“Will I be able to see my partner in the next phase of lockdown?”

As the UK prepares to enter phase two of lockdown, Stylist investigates what this might mean for couples who have found themselves separated during the pandemic.

On 9 June, it will have been three months since I last saw my boyfriend. We’ve been isolating at our respective family homes in different areas of the country since the middle of March just before lockdown was imposed – the last time I saw him, we had no idea how long it would be until we’d see each other again.

The hardest part about all of this has been the not knowing. My boyfriend and I have been long distance at one other point in our relationship, so it’s not like we don’t know how to cope with not being able to see each other for an extended period of time (our Zoom date nights remain the highlight of my week). But with every week that goes by, the fact that we don’t know when we’ll see each other again is becoming more and more difficult to handle.

We’re not the only couple struggling with the uncertainty surrounding when we might be able to see each other again. Alice Greedus, 24, hasn’t seen her boyfriend for two and a half months. They were finally able to see each other over the weekend for a socially-distanced bike ride, but, as Greedus explains, it’s just not the same.

“It’s very strange not being able to kiss or hug your boyfriend,” she says. “I admitted to him that it doesn’t quite feel like I actually saw him when I had to stay two meters away at all time.

“It’s really difficult being separated, we’re used to only seeing each other at weekends, as he lives in Bournemouth and I live in Fleet in Hampshire but this has been a new test. We wanted to lockdown together but we both live with our parents so it wasn’t really an option.

“I think the worst part is not knowing when we will see each other again. At the beginning I was dealing very well with it, when I thought he might be able to visit again by June. As this looks less likely, I’m growing increasingly anxious and it’s certainly having a negative impact on my mental wellbeing.”

It’s undeniable that being separated from your partner during such a hard time is incredibly difficult – even for those people who are experts at long distance dating. If there’s one thing many of us who have found ourselves separated from our partners in lockdown want to know, it’s when we might finally be able to spend some quality time with them again. So what are the government saying right now?

Under the current lockdown restrictions, you are able to meet one other person from a different household in a public outdoor setting, as long as you maintain the two metre social distancing rules. And because we’re allowed to drive and take day trips, that could technically involve a quick (though still socially distanced) visit to a partner who lives a bit further away. This is, of course, a great first step for couples who have been separated from their partner for an extended period of time – but what might the next step look like?

Although nothing is yet to be confirmed, there’s been some speculation about what phase two of lockdown might look like in terms of socialising with your friends and family. When the lockdown restrictions first began to be lifted at the beginning of May, the government said that they would consider allowing households to merge as soon as 1 June, although there’s been no follow-up as to whether this will actually go ahead. Another report published this week in The Telegraph suggested that the government is drawing up plans to introduce a “social bubble” system which will allow up to 10 people to socialise outdoors, including in their garden. 

With this in mind, you might be able to invite your partner to join your “social bubble” and spend more time with them as soon as 1 June – we’ll just have to wait and see what Boris Johnson announces at his next lockdown review, which is due this week.

It seems couples who have found themselves separated may have to wait some time until they’re able to freely see each other again. For now, we’ll have to make the most of spending our evenings on virtual dates and FaceTiming over breakfast, in the knowledge that, one day, we’ll be able to see our loved ones again. 

Coping with feelings of isolation

If you’re struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness in lockdown, you’re not alone. We’re facing a situation unlike any of us have ever experienced before, so it’s completely normal to find things difficult. However, if you’re looking for a way to alleviate some of these feelings, here are three articles that might help:

  • Free online therapy and wellbeing resources you can access for free during the coronavirus outbreak
  • It’s OK to admit that you’re lonely. In fact, it might help
  • 8 of the most comforting podcasts to listen to if you’re lonely

For more information and resources on coping with feelings of isolation and low mood in lockdown, you can check out NHS Every Mind Matters or visit Mind’s website.

Images: Getty

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