War, calamities or a pandemic can have a significant impact on how a person views love, dating or a fleeting romance. Love is usually associated with flowers, chocolates, fancy dinners or just waiting to meet your significant other. While a global pandemic cannot diminish the value of love, it surely can alter interpersonal relationships. One of the main reasons for this shift is due to the amount of time people get to spend alone. While one can say that the pandemic brought people closer to their respective partners, equal number of people felt their relationship has strained through the pandemic. The change in perspective is visible among those who are single, newly dating, married, separated or cohabitating. The biggest challenge was posed by the never-ending lockdowns arising out of boredom and too much together time and restrictions on socialising, both of which can make an impact on your love life.

Distances, differences
Currently, those signing up for dating are clear on their intentions, because of which, instances of ghosting have come down, which is a healthy sign. People have begun to value each date. While many of those who are in relationships have drifted apart, because of lack of physical intimacy. Ananya*, a student, had a strong dating game for a year before March 2020. “Though I avoid serious commitments, I used to regularly meet new people through dating Apps. It unfortunately took a hit post pandemic. I was worried about desperately wanting to meet new people. I wanted the physical presence of another human being in my life. It was a big deal to ask amidst a lockdown. My friend suggested one of her friends for a virtual date. We hit it off. I always had reservations about long distance relationships because of trust issues and time zones. But I handled this pretty well and I am more open to it”, she said. Many partners have even surprised each other during the pandemic though major fights have erupted from simple things such as one deciding to attend a social gathering when the covid numbers are high or a boyfriend of 17 years ‘not having a problem’ of not meeting the girlfriend even after a year!

Within four walls
But for the newly married one, these have been testing times. Anand* from Bengaluru who works at a media house as an Analyst, says even as love remains the same, his tolerance level does not. Being in a long-distance marriage, he says, “There is no room for drama. Sometimes we took breaks from each other without even mentioning.” Simple things such as moving around the city, shopping together, a short vacation, attending social gatherings and events do take away a lot of stress in a relationship and no one understands it better than
Jayanth*. A CEO of an educational start-up in Chennai, Jayanth panicked when the lockdown began affecting his business. “I got busy making online modules to keep the show running”, he said. But his inability to spent time with his girlfriend of six months began altering their relationship. She is a PhD scholar and duo had planned to marry. “I had little to no time for her and both families began getting anxious and we eventually married at her house”, he said, after which the relationship got worse. Jayanth blames the ‘daily fights’ because of lockdown and two people having to see each other for way too much time. “I am highly stressed at work and I do not share my worries with another person. When I am stressed, I keep quiet and try to find a solution in my mind. This is how I have been since I am a single child. While she has the habit of sharing her problems out loud. So even when she is ranting, I maintain my calm. This has led to many problems, including breaking things in the house and not speaking to each other for two-three days.” Another reason was how messy he was and how he never noticed that she did all the kitchen chores. This was solved by hiring a maid. The stress added by the pandemic was more, “She had planned on travelling to many places after marriage, that was not possible. She also has a breathing problem. You know how strenuous that can be during covid times,” he said. The pandemic had taught people to walk out of a relationship or fight for it, for now, Jayanth has decided to make things work. “Now I understand love differently. I would have surely preferred someone more mature, open- minded and non-restrictive,” he said.

‘How to end a relationship’ has seen a surge in Google searches for this query while there is a 30 per cent spike in divorce and child custody cases. The city of Mumbai topped the chart with a three-fold increase in divorce cases, followed by Delhi. From an average of 1,280 cases in a month, their numbers went up to 3,480 in Mumbai courts during the lockdown. City-based Advocate Alexis said, “the divorce cases filed during lockdown were mainly based on differences in opinion. But there were also a few cases when couples who filed for divorce and living together withdrawing cases. It happened with three per cent of my cases. The couples wanted to reunite after going through a difficult phase together or standing up for each other. In one case, they reunited after one of them contracted covid and the other began caring.”

To new beginnings
The glossy and filtered pictures of couples working out, the filmy reels and making Dalgona coffee on Instagram do tell a reassuring story. For some relationships, the pandemic worked wonders. For Rachel, the past few months have been great as she got to many joint activities with her husband. “We both had jobs where we travelled for long hours each day and saw less of each other. But since the pandemic began, we began gardening, working out together, got two dogs and even got watching movies and having discussions on the same. We have never done these things before,” said Rachel. She however said her husband who did not take interest in household chores, took charge after the lockdown
was lifted.