So, 'Turbo Relationships' Boomed In Lockdown. Are You In One?

Did the pace of your relationship speed up during the pandemic? Here's how to keep things fresh as life returns to normal.

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If you found your relationship went from zero to 100 during lockdown – and all of a sudden, you’ve mastered the art of living together – you’re not alone.

Lockdown appears to have accelerated Brits’ love lives, resulting in so-called “turbo relationships”, a new report from Relate and eHarmony has found.

Some people found themselves living together within weeks of meeting – and largely thriving because of it. Over a third of those newly living with a partner believe the past two months have felt “more like two years of commitment”.

And more than a third of respondents say they’ve reached common relationship milestones a lot faster – leading to more sex, better communication and the opportunity to discover new, shared passions.

Why is this happening? Relate counsellor, Peter Saddington, says “in wider periods of societal unrest”, couples often pull together. “The combination of more time spent together, heightened anxiety levels and the removal of common routines – like seeing friends – is an intense mix,” he says.

There are pros and cons to being in a turbo relationship. “It’s quite a romantic idea, isn’t it?” says Relate counsellor, Holly Roberts. “This romantic idealism that a couple have just met and they’ve decided to move in together because they’ve missed each other and want to be together. I think that can be really positive – it’s a nice love story to the beginning of their relationship.”

On the flip side, some people might have walked – or ran – into a lockdown relationship a little “love blind”, she says.

If this is the case, there may have been a few red flags that have cropped up: bickering more than normal (that could be once a day, and about small things that are irrelevant), noticing differences in your values (they’re not big on marriage and you are), as well as spotting a void in your mutual interests.

Those who want to keep their relationships ticking over should now try to slow things down, says Roberts, and “rediscover that honeymoon period at a slower pace”.

Speeding things up in your relationship may have meant you’ve missed out on the exciting bits of having a new partner. Roberts encourages people to go back to the dating phase and rediscover each other – creating a sense of mystery, experiencing butterflies and actually missing someone again.

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It’s also good to be mindful that it may be hard to adjust from living in each other’s pockets, to going back to some form of normality.

“If a couple have been living together and it’s just been the two of them, that intimacy and time they spent together is really unique,” she explains, “but coming out of lockdown, they’re going to have more opportunity to see other people – friends, family – and other intrusions on their time that will take them away from each other.

“It’s managing that process and feeling like it’s okay to miss each other – but it’s also ok to want to spend time with other people.”

Having your own time, friends and interests is important in making you feel nourished as an individual, which in turn makes you a happy and wholesome person to be in a relationship with – and vice versa, adds Roberts.

If you do find yourself struggling with the change of pace, talk about it. “Communication is absolutely vital,” she continues – and a lack of it can fuel misunderstanding and feelings of abandonment in your relationship.

Crucially, psychotherapist Lucy Beresford says both people in the relationship need to acknowledge that living in a mutual bubble can’t last forever.

“There has to come a point where you meet each other’s parents, or reconnect with your friendship groups – and it’s really important you do. You can’t exist in this little bubble, just the two of you, for the rest of your life,” she says. “You have to let other people in, create different energy, different oxygen, in your relationship – but you have to also talk about it.”

Some couples have found lockdown to be been a strain on their relationship. If that’s the case, don’t beat yourself up about it – a break-up isn’t inevitable. Hold fire, and let the dust settle post-lockdown if you can.

“If you’ve been struggling it’s probably that you need that extra energy, extra input, from other people – whether that’s chatting to your sister, your best mate, or seeing your colleagues in the flesh,” she says.

“Make time for that and recognise that the little bubble is very artificial – and it’s unlikely life will need to be like that again.”