How has the pandemic affected our romantic and friendly relationship?

His books on romantic relationships have been translated into nearly 30 languages. Through weekly podcasts Where do we start, she has made her therapy sessions available to millions of people around the world. His TED talk has been viewed approximately 25 million times. Esther Perel also appears regularly in talk shows by Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey. At 63 years old, this Belgian based in New York is without a doubt one of the most famous couples therapists in the world. Its strength lies in the sober and direct way in which it conveys its unique vision of romantic relationships, infidelity and the concept of romance. Like the rest of the world, the Belgian remained incarcerated for many months in a large apartment in Lower Manhattan. “As a therapist, I was very concerned about the impact of the pandemic on our relationship,” she explains during her whirlwind visit to Belgium.

Also read: “Can You Have a Healthy Relationship with a Narcissistic Pervert? »

The latest figures from the Federal Interior Ministry show that the health crisis has clearly affected the population at the relational level. In the United States, but also in our country. In 2020, the number of divorces increased by 13% compared to the previous year. This figure corresponds to the largest increase in 5 years.

As for the “already divorced”, the pandemic has only exacerbated the conflicts associated with (non) payment of alimony. In 2020, the service responsible for dealing with this type of problem opened 3,400 new files, that is, almost 40% more than in 2019. Those who lived legally appear to have slightly less confinement. The number of separations in this segment of the population has decreased by 17% compared to 2020. Some regions have also experienced a real baby boom, but throughout the kingdom the birth rates are still comparable to 2019. The conclusion – somewhat concise – that we can draw on these statistics is that the pandemic has upset our balance in love, clarifies Esther Perel. We were suddenly confronted with the fragility of our lives. When life expectancy is shortened, people’s state of mind changes profoundly. Suddenly, they wonder what they really want out of life. The pandemic has given a boost to the nature of our relationship. Many people have decided to change course. Through a breakup or … by having a baby.

Also read: “How do you succeed in overcoming your breakup? »

In both cases, their priorities have changed. Thoughts change. As for the concept of loneliness, it has taken on a new dimension. Some people who were not single realized that they felt lonely in their relationship. The reverse was also true. Even in full confinement, singles have been able to count on a solid network. Evidence that the way we weave and maintain social contacts is not related to the fact of being in a couple or not. If social distancing affected us all, we had to make sure it did not turn into emotional distancing. “

Social relations? Our business!

Maintaining ties and making new friends is getting harder and harder. By definition, people who live alone have more friends, go out more, but have less sex than if they were in a relationship. On paper, life for singles seems more hectic. Constantly in search of new connections, these people feel essentially less alone. According to Esther Perel, heterosexual men in relationships tend to reduce their circle of friends. “Women generally make an effort to maintain as many contacts as possible. In a patriarchal and classic approach to the couple, men generally do not combine professional success with a satisfying social life.

Women generally make a greater effort to maintain as many contacts as possible.

We can also note that women tend to maintain relationships with their husbands, relationships that they feel obligated to support. In a very fixed notion of romance, we also take as our starting point the principle that we must be everything to the other. But if your partner is enough for you, what justifies you continuing to see other people? In addition, friendship is considered less important than romantic relationships. “We also see it in the context of therapies,” emphasizes Esther Perel. In the collective unconscious, a couple is always a loving couple, a cohabiting couple or a married couple. We’re never talking about a couple of friends. In a patriarchal society, love and intimacy go beyond friendship, which is therefore relegated to the background. We rarely ask people to take their friends to therapy sessions. He who utters the word “love” thinks of romantic love. Not the one you feel for your friends. This love is mistakenly underestimated. »

Expand your pair of friends

Esther Perel insists on the importance of being creative when it comes to establishing and maintaining connections. “If you want your life to stay exciting, you have to make a real effort. Around a table, meeting guests who do not yet know each other is often enough to spice up the conversation. The integration of new people avoids that. repeat the same stories over and over again.I like to arrange parties where I ask everyone to invite an unknown.A great way to expand your circle.Especially since this circle is important to you but also to the balance of your couple. The more support you can count on from your friends, the less pressure there is on your relationship.If they do not have the power to save a dysfunctional relationship, there is no doubt that your friends are affecting the quality of your relationship.

The more support you can count on from your friends, the less pressure there is on your relationship.

In the event of a breakup, we like to be able to hold on to our friends. The nature of our relationship has changed a lot. “On the sexual level, we are longer nomads. We are not getting married as an 18 year old anymore. We do what we want until 29, then we look for the “ideal” person. Whether you meet them through an app or in real life, this person justifies your unsubscribing from all dating sites. This same person also has the power to comfort you with the idea that this relationship is sufficient in itself. Disadvantages? If you are deceived in any way, you lose everything: sex, marriage, friendship and a more or less traced path. Faced with such a vacuum, we understand the importance of being surrounded by true and good friends. »

For more psycho articles, also read: “Stay Separate to Save Your Couple”, “Friends Couple: When the Quartet Merges” or “10 Tips to Escape the Routine in Your Couple”.


Couple, love.

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