How the pandemic is impacting relationships

MEDFORD, Ore. — Will we have another baby boom or will divorce rates skyrocket?

It’s a question on many psychologist’s minds as the global pandemic is having a significant impact on relationships.

“You only really know a person when things get really difficult,” said Dr. Douglas Col, clinical and neuro-psychologist.

The stress of a global pandemic affects us all differently but it’s in these difficult times, psychologists say, you really see someone’s true colors.

For better or for worse.

“Some people really close in and take care of themselves and devil take the hindmost. And then there’s a smaller number of people who have a completely different view, which is we all get through this together,” said Dr. Col.

Dr. Col says he’s noticed two things happening for couples.

The first is if people enjoy each other’s company, this feels like a refreshing break from their busy lives.

The second, isn’t as pretty.

“People that sort of get along in the marriage but aren’t necessarily enthralled with each other are having a much harder time because they can’t get away from each other,” he said.

Added stress and isolation can also have an affect on physical intimacy.

“For some people when times get difficult their physical, sexual interests goes through the floor,” he said. “They’re just not interested, forget about it, call me later. But other people, really need that reassurance.”

That could open the door for risky behavior. Dr. Col says we saw that happen during the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s.

“People, who almost just a reaction of denial, will become hyper sexual even though it’s risky,” he said. “And then there was another subset of people who had AIDS and were HIV positive [and] somehow felt they needed to spread the wealth. It’s like if I’m going down everyone has to go down.”

For singles, social distancing doesn’t exactly spell romance.

But Dr. Col says dating applications can be a good way to connect remotely as long as they stay apart.

“It forces people to talk and learn about the other person much more than jumping straight into a physical relationship,” he said. “It’s almost like promoting the old idea of courting more.”

No matter your relationship status, Dr. Col says it’s always good time to work on the relationship you have with yourself. To take this extra time to reflect and understand who you are and how you can impact the future.

“This is not going to be a situation that when this is all over, we go back to the way things were before,” Dr. Col said. “To envision, okay, this is like a real start on our world, so let’s think about what new world we want to create.”

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