Navigating a Relationship in Quarantine


Healthy relationships can already be difficult to maintain, whether it be a relationship with a family member, friend, or romantic partner. However, quarantine just seems to make it harder than ever to keep relationships in check—these connections with others may seem like they’re falling apart amidst the pandemic.

In this article, we will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on people’s relationships and include tips to maintain healthy relationships during this time. The article will also talk about dealing with a breakup during quarantine and maintaining other types of relationships, such as those with friends and family.

How have relationships changed? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made life more difficult in general. For example, individuals may have more mental health and financial issues, and these issues may exacerbate relationship problems. As a result, this pandemic presents challenges to a couple’s relationship in disparate ways. One way it could impact relationships is by introducing attachment anxiety. [1] Attachment anxiety is defined as inconsistent caregiving that results in distress, destructive reactions, and excessive reassurance seeking which leads to relationship problems such as jealousy and poor communication. [2] Destructive reactions can include raising your voice and using harsh words, while excessive reassurance seeking is defined by the constant need to check in with someone. The pandemic can also affect the sexuality of couples, leading to dissatisfaction with their relationships. Ultimately, these two factors — attachment anxiety and relationship dissatisfaction — can lead to conflicts in romantic relationships during the pandemic.

Tips to maintain a quarantine romance

When social distancing or navigating a long-distance relationship, maintaining a quarantine relationship can be even more difficult, especially to those who value physical touch. [3] Physical touch is a love language that is important to many relationships as it releases the “feel-good” hormone oxytocin. Affectionate touch can promote the feelings of attachment with a significant other. [3] However, with social distancing during quarantine, it can be harder to get the physical touch you desire in a relationship. Here are four tips to maintaining a healthy relationship during quarantine and dealing with the lack of touch when you desire physical affection.

Tip #1: Create a quarantine routine

Creating a routine with your significant other can help establish stability and dependability. By following a regular schedule, you can take away the pressure and anxiety of deciding what to do with your partner and become more time-efficient. By having a structured plan, you can also minimize conflicts in your relationship. Maybe for some couples, a routine could be video calling once a day or a few times a week. Additional options for spending time over a call could be eating lunch together over Zoom and watching a movie on Friday nights. 

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Tip #2: Make sure you have alone time

While you might want to be with your significant other all the time, you should allow yourself and your partner some alone time throughout the day. [4] Just because you need space does not mean that you do not love your partner. Having regular alone time is essential for everybody. Give yourself some space so you can understand your own emotions instead of lashing them onto your partner in an argument; these problems and arguments can be amplified without alone time. By setting aside time for yourself, you can have the freedom to pursue your own interests while being committed to your relationship. 

Tip #3: Communication is key

You and your partner should always set aside some time to check in with each other. Refrain from keeping your feelings about your relationship to yourself, and try to be more compassionate and vulnerable about difficult feelings, no matter how hard it can be to express them. You can also try to have more deep conversations, which is a fun and intimate activity that can help you learn new things about your partner. [5] These conversations could include conversations about your dreams, family, challenges in life, or favorite memories. To have deeper, more intimate conversations, make sure it’s a good time to talk and to set the tone. You can ask questions about topics that your partner can be interested in, but also don’t push them to see your perspective. 

Tip #4: Remind yourself of how far you’ve come 

While isolation from your partner (assuming you’re not living with them) can be difficult, remind yourself that this situation won’t last forever. There’s a brighter side, and the situation may actually strengthen the bond between a couple, because of the challenges you and your partner may need to overcome. A majority of people (51%) believe that their relationship with a significant other will emerge stronger once the pandemic is over. [6] You can try to take this stage in life as a silver lining in your relationship.

Dealing with a quarantine breakup

On the other hand, quarantine can cause relationships to fall apart. Breakups can be an unbearably painful and stressful experience, but a quarantine breakup can feel even worse because you may feel like you’re all alone. [7] The usual methods of getting over an ex and coping would include working on themselves by investing in their daily routines or getting out there and meeting new people or, but that doesn’t apply during our current circumstances. Here are some ways you can alleviate the pain and move on from a broken relationship. 

Going No-Contact

The first step you should take is to acknowledge the grief. While the pandemic can exacerbate your feelings, you should not be too hard on yourself. You can follow the no-contact rule, where you avoid calling, texting, or messaging an ex in any way after a breakup. [8]

You should recognize that it’s okay to feel disappointment and stress after a breakup and to give yourself a break. However, you should also remind yourself that you can get through this emotional circumstance. You can go no-contact with an ex by blocking them on social media or removing any physical triggers that can remind you of that person. Although it can hurt, going no-contact can be one of the most efficient ways to move on from an ex. You can think of going no-contact as a detox from your past relationship as you step into a new stage of life. 

Girl on Laptop - UCLA Total Wellness

Keeping In Touch

You may start to feel desperate for physical touch, which is especially difficult during the pandemic. However, you do have several other options to keep yourself company. You can video chat with your friends and family and share your feelings with them—you don’t have to go through this alone. By connecting with others through video calls, you can remind yourself that you’re loved and that people are always there to support you. Another option is to re-enter the dating pool by joining some dating apps. However, you do not need to rely entirely on others to overcome this situation, as self-care is just as meaningful and important.

Ways of Self-Care

During this period of time, self-care can be helpful for alleviating anxiety or stress. By taking care of yourself, you can improve your mental and physical well-being. During COVID-19, you can treat yourself in numerous ways. One example is a simple self-massage. [9] These massages can increase the hormone oxytocin and reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Oxytocin has been shown to have a positive impact by increasing feelings of relaxation, trust, and overall psychological stability. [10] In addition, self-massages can ease stress, anxiety, and headaches. By taking care of yourself, you can think and feel better too. 

Self-care also includes taking care of your body during a period of immense stress. This can include getting enough sleep—typically seven to eight hours—but not sleeping excessively. [11] You should also maintain a healthy diet by eating nourishing foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. During a breakup, you should remember the importance of nourishing and delicious foods! Nourishing foods with large amounts of healthy properties such as antioxidants can improve your mood and reduce anxiety. [11] You should also consider going outside to go exercise, which can improve mental health and self-esteem by reducing anxiety and depression. Getting over a breakup is difficult, but you can use this period as a time to become a better version of yourself by taking care of your mental health and body.

Friendships, family, & other relationships

There are other types of relationships beyond romantic ones, including those with your friends and family. Maintaining these relationships is just as meaningful and important during quarantine, and you may feel like your social circle has been narrowed down by the pandemic. You may also be frustrated with the social distancing regulations that limit your ability to see your close friends and family. [12] While we have adjusted to this setting with online friendships, we may feel the screen burnout of seeing our loved ones with endless Zoom or FaceTime calls. However, there are other ways to stay in touch with your kin and create authentic relationships through the pandemic.

Family - UCLA Total Wellness

Even during a pandemic, you can still foster the important relationships you have with friends or acquaintances. You can connect with your friends with everyday, casual methods, such as simply tagging a friend in a meme that reminds you of them or playing a game together over Zoom. Friendships can also be strengthened when you remember and acknowledge big moments, such as birthdays. [13] You can show that you care for another person by sending them a nice message, or even calling them to wish them a happy birthday. Another way to show your appreciation to your loved ones is by sending cards to your friends and family with whom you want to stay in touch. While we’ve gotten used to connecting via technology, it can be meaningful to handwrite your words to communicate to a friend. 

During the pandemic, you can also enjoy several fun outdoor activities with your friends and family. You can explore new places outdoors to take a break from being quarantined, as long as you practice social distancing and wear masks. You can engage in low-risk outdoor activities such as jogging, walking at the beach, or setting up a picnic. [14] By spending time outdoors, there are several positive benefits including reductions in stress and anxiety and elevated mood. With these activities, you can hopefully bond with your friends and family even during the pandemic.  

The bottom line

I hope you find these tips useful and feel inspired to strengthen the connections you have with your loved ones. In the end, you’re not alone regardless of your relationship status, and others are likely feeling similar emotions as you. The pandemic will eventually end and the quality relationships you have with your loved ones make your experience in quarantine worthwhile. It is important to foster our long-distance relationships, even though we know that everything will eventually return to normalcy. Although quarantine has impacted our significant relationships, we can still maintain healthy relationships with others which play an important role in our mental health and emotional well being. During quarantine, don’t forget that your mental health also matters.


  1. “Relationship Functioning During COVID-19 Quarantine.” (2020).

  2. “Changes in Sexuality and Quality of Couple Relationship During the COVID-19 Lockdown.” (2020).

  3. “Why Physical Touch Matters for Your Well-Being.” (2018).

  4. “6 Tips for Keeping Relationships (Romantic or Platonic) On Track in Close Quarters.” (2020).

  5. “Quarantine Might Be Ruining Your Relationship. Here’s How To Save It.” (2018).

  6. “Q: Will My Relationship Survive Quarantine?” (2020).

  7. “How to Handle a Breakup During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” (2020).

  8. “Why breaking up during coronavirus is a ‘double dose of grief’.” (2020).

  9. “How to Ease Pain with Self-Massage.” (2020).

  10. “Why Is Oxytocin Known as the ‘Love Hormone’? And 11 Other FAQs.” (2018).

  11. “Your Step-By-Step Guide To Getting Over A Tough Breakup” (2020).

  12. “How to Maintain Healthy Friendships During Quarantine.” (n.d.).

  13. “Caring For Our Friendships During Covid-19.” (2020).

  14. “Nature’s Role in Mental Illness: Prevention or Treatment?” (2019).

Available in “Healthy Together” Spring 2020 | Vol. 20 | Issue 1

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