Don’t hold off the breakup until after lockdown (Picture: Getty Images/fStop)
Navigating a love life during a pandemic hasn’t been easy – and it shows by what people have been Googling.
Single people have been forced to rely on apps to meet new love interests, while coupled up people have either had to make it work long distance, or take the meaning of ‘alone time’ to a new level.
Naturally it hasn’t been easy to adapt to all of these changes.
Google Trend data reveals what the biggest love related questions and search terms of 2021 have been so far.
Even though the end of lockdown is in sight, it will still be some time until ‘normal’ dating can resume.
To help you find the answers to these recurring questions, relationship therapist Zoe Williams from GearHungry shares her tips and advice:
‘How to break up with someone’
This question has seen a 9900% increase in searches.
The dynamic of a relationship may have changed dramatically during lockdown, so Zoe advises not to make ‘permanent decisions on temporary emotions.
‘Remember, the pressures of lockdown are temporary and when normality returns the pressures will lift.’
However, if you are clear on the breakup, Zoe says there are a number of ‘unspoken rules’ when it comes to ending a relationship.
Generally they are: do it in person, avoid using clichés, say it in a neutral space – but right now many don’t have the luxury of meeting in person and having options for where to go.
‘It’s tempting to put off the inevitable and wait until post lockdown. I have noticed a rise in individuals believing that waiting until lockdown is over to break up with someone is possibly the fairest thing to do.
‘Their belief is that both parties will be able to socialise, see friends and seek the somewhat traditional avenues to move on from the relationship.
‘Although there is some logic to this, I advise against it,’ says Zoe while explaining that you end up prolonging the time that person will take to move on.
Though it’s not preferrable, use the digital channels available such as a video call.
‘This allows the other person to make plans outside of lockdown, create future events to look forward to and work to move on immediately.’
In terms of how to deliver the news, Zoe says not to spare feelings.
‘Sparing feelings often leads to questions and uncertainty. It can be difficult to argue with honesty and healing comes easier to those that understand the logic in decisions, even if they may not agree with them.’
‘Texting my ex’
There has been a 9700% increase in searches of this term.
It has been widely reported that people’s exes were crawling out of the woodwork during lockdown.
Zoe says this isn’t surprising: ‘It is an unsettling time that has led to many experiencing a roller coaster of emotions.
‘This is partly due to prolonged periods of time that allow us to reflect on the past, stirring nostalgia,’ hence why there’s temptation to text someone from the past.
Zoe doesn’t say you should completely avoid this – rather, you should get clear on why you’re doing this and what your desired outcome is.
‘I strongly recommend that you establish your objective first and recognise the feelings that the interaction will potentially raise.
‘If your intention is to rekindle a relationship, allow some time to come to terms with the fact that they may not be on the same wavelength. Be prepared to give them time.’
You might also just want to check in with an ex out of concern over their health, rather than to reconnect. If you do this, ‘be prepared to not receive the same level of concern’.
One thing she advises against: texting an ex out of boredom. This can only lead to hurt if feelings arise again for the other party.
Equally, the term ‘how to get over my ex’ has risen too, with Zoe saying it can be even harder to cope with the symptoms of dealing with heartbreak while human contact is limited and we are confined to one space.
‘Dating in lockdown’
There has been a 205% uplift in searches of this term.
Though it’s not without it’s challenges, Zoe thinks the new styles of dating that have emerged – such as slow dating – are helping us make better choices on partners.
‘Socially distant meet ups somewhat rewind time and encourage dates without alcohol or first date politics,’ Zoe tells us.
‘I am hearing more and more that people are surprised at how different the dating scene is without beer goggles. They are also enjoying the lack of, “who pays for what” conversation.
‘Best of all, there is no pressure to see each other again.
‘I truly believe that pandemic dating will transition into the new normal for years to come, with a zoom date almost acting as a first interview.’
It will be mean that some common ground is established before the first official date and there is no immediacy on the potential physical side of a relationship.
‘Living with new partner’
There has been a 9600% uplift in searches of this term.
Faced with either not seeing each other for an unknown amount of time or moving forward with the relationship quicker than usual, new couples have committed to each other with increased urgency.
‘The pandemic has pressed fast forward on some relationships,’ says Zoe.
‘Put simply, cohabiting during a global crisis is going to put a strain on any relationship, no matter how well established it is.
‘Constant company with limited “breaks” and a spotlight on a person’s natural behaviours away from the smoke screen of date nights can impact a person’s initial perception of their love interest.
‘As a result, the honeymoon period can be cut short.’
If you’ve been finding it harder to live with a partner than you initially anticipated, Zoe says it’s not too late to have the serious conversations that might have been skipped in the rush to cohabit – conversations that otherwise would have taken place.
‘Ensure that you are both on the same page with regards what life will look like post lockdown. Do not make any assumptions.
‘Remember, it can be an ongoing conversation where the outcome can be moulded to your feelings and situation’.
‘Arguing in lockdown’
This term has seen a 9700% increase in searches.
Zoe has some reassuring news here, as she says that ‘arguing in lockdown is inevitable, but not necessarily unhealthy.’
It’s good to air your problems rather than bottle them up – this way you have a chance to move forward.
Calling herself a ‘realist’, Zoe says: ‘I acknowledge that the conventional advice of, sit down and talk, can be unrealistic.
‘I encourage anyone who is consistently arguing to establish what is necessary arguing and what is unnecessary.’
Ask yourself: What means something to you and what doesn’t? What are you willing to negotiate on and what are you unwilling to compromise on?
Weighing these questions up will help you figure out what is worth arguing over – usually with the result of less arguments.
As Zoe says, ‘you choose your battles.’
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