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Lockdown love: How the pandemic ages relationships

After spending so much time together in 2020, the average couple has experienced the equivalent of four extra years in their relationship, calculated by with a calculator.

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If living with a partner, the past year of quarantining together may have probably felt similar to the Bill Murray movie where every day feels exactly the same.

Above results above generated by a new Valentine’s Day survey of 2,000 people conducted Groupon. (Graphic: Business Wire)

After spending so much extra time together the past year, the average couple has experienced the equivalent of four extra years in their relationship — based on the results of a new Valentine’s Day survey of 2,000 people conducted by experiences marketplace Groupon.

For Valentine’s Day, Groupon partnered with mathematician and Cambridge doctoral candidate Bobby Seagull, to develop a proprietary math formula to create the quarantine relationship equivalent of “dog years” — quantifying the extra time couples have spent together.

In addition to calculating the additional time spent together compared to a normal year, the formula also includes a boredom factor. Approximately 60% of couples admit time is passing much more slowly since they can’t experience new things together.

For many, the extended amount of time together has been a positive experience, with 73% saying it’s strengthened their relationships and 65% saying they’ve learned more about their partners. Other positives identified by survey participants included: spending more quality time together (47%), sharing cooking responsibilities (43%) and drinking more cups of coffee (27%).

Although couples spent more time watching Netflix, relaxing and playing board games, quarantine hasn’t been all smooth-sailing for many couples. 59% of couples said Covid-19 has been the ultimate test of their relationships, with the average couple not been on a date in approximately five and a half months.

The most irritating habits people discovered about their partners during quarantine include: playing loud music or watching TV during work hours (27%), spending too much time in the bathroom (24%), eating lunch too loudly (22%), having an annoying work phone voice (20%) and causing disturbances during work calls (18%).

“The pandemic has been challenging for couples on many levels, however, there are some strategies that they can implement to alleviate any stressors that arise in the relationship,” says Bernard de Wet, a Chicago-based licensed couples therapist. “One such strategy is to create a filter system for each specific stressor. For example, checking-in with your partner and asking, is this a pandemic-related stressor or would this stressor still be present regardless of the pandemic? Having a filter system, and checking-in with your partner, may change the way you view the stressor and make it easier to resolve it from a team approach.”

The research also uncovered interesting work-from-home trends and insights. 70% of people surveyed said they’ve been working from home alongside their partners. 77% of respondents said they’ve learned more about what their partners actually do for a living as a result of working in close proximity to them throughout the past year.

6 out of 10 people surveyed (64%) said they work in a different room than their significant other as a way to get some privacy and alone time. One out of three respondents (37%) said they take lunch breaks together.

De Wet says: “Many couples are currently spending more time than they ever have together, such as working from home and being in each other’s company throughout most of the day. As such, creating shared, meaningful experiences may be beneficial for the relationship.

“That said, it may be challenging to lean on some of the previous typical relationship or dating rituals that you and your partner shared prior to the pandemic, which will require more creative solutions. This may include going for a car ride together and having a picnic in the car or ordering food that originates from a country that you either planned to visit prior to the pandemic or want to go visit once it’s safe to do so.”

Click here to calculate how much your relationship has aged during the pandemic.

Whatever the comfort level of the relationship this Valentine’s Day, Groupon is aiming to help with escaping boredom and foster deeper connections with partners — and other loved ones — with a range of experiences such as engaging activities, relaxing massage and spa packages. Traditional staples such as eats along with the romantic staples of flowers, chocolates and wine are also available.

Groupon’s Valentine’s Day collection is available here.

Lockdown Love Formula Key

P = Pre-pandemic average number of hours cohabiting couples spent together per year. Groupon’s research found this was 1696.67 on average

B = x 2 for the boredom factor. Considering couples said time spent together during the pandemic felt more like years than months, the boredom factor multiples the pandemic time spent together by two.

HWD= Hours spent together as a couple during an average week (excluding weekends) during the pandemic. 76.95 hours according to the research

T = the tier factor – the number of weeks working from home together since the pandemic began. Research found the average was 28 weeks

HWE = Hours spent together as a couple on an average weekend during the pandemic. The research found couples spend an average of 12.3 hours together

N = Number of weekends since the pandemic began (calculation based on this being 43 at time of research)

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