One in five UK adults suffered ‘complete relationship breakdown’ during pandemic, study finds

Fractured relationship could have been with either family, friends, colleagues or neighbours

Olivia Petter
Friday 13 August 2021 12:01
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One in five UK adults experienced a complete breakdown in a relationship during the pandemic, a new study has revealed.

According to University College London’s Covid-19 Social Study, the largest study of social ties during Covid-19, 22 per cent of adults suffered the dissolution of a relationship with either family, friends, colleagues or neighbours.

The study, which is ongoing, was launched in 2020 shortly before the first lockdown was imposed in England.

It has been examining the state of people’s relationships and lifestyles during the pandemic and includes data on more than 70,000 people.

The research is funded by the Nuffield Foundation, with additional support from Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation.

In the latest release, it found that adults aged 18-29 were most likely to report a relationship breakdown out of all age groups.

Adults in this bracket were 35 per cent more likely to have had a relationship breakdown compared to 12 per cent of adults aged 60 and over.

Meanwhile, in more positive news, nearly half (46 per cent) of young adults said the quality of their relationships with their spouse or partner had been better than usual during the past year.

That’s significantly more than adults aged 30-59 and those aged 60 and over, of whom 27 per cent and 21 per cent respectively reported better relationships with their partners.

The study’s lead author, Dr Elise Paul from the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health, told the Guardian that the research reflected “the mixed impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Dr Paul added: “Younger adults reporting a better relationship with their spouse or partner may have benefited from furlough or remote working allowing them to spend more time together.

“On the other hand, the stress of the pandemic and lockdown measures which prevented people from seeing those outside their household may have contributed to the breakdown of other relationships, particularly those with people who do not live close by.”

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