Is your lockdown relationship just a quaranfling? Here are some clues
Do you feel stifled in your relationship where before, during lockdown, you felt held and safe?
In hindsight, did you rush into seriousness out of fear of loneliness during the pandemic?
Did you feel secure in your choice of partner during lockdown, but now find yourself wondering who else is out there?
If you’re nodding along, you might have found yourself in a quaranfling.
A quaranfling is a relationship that escalated quickly not long before or during the pandemic, either remotely or physically, but won’t last much longer than lockdown does.
We’ve looked closely at the impact the pandemic has had on dating before, with ‘Covid cuffing’ becoming a dating trend last year when fears of the then-imminent second wave were just starting to bubble up.
For reasons ranging from fear of lockdown loneliness to worries over time yet to be lost, many singletons found themselves looking for something serious.
But, now that the Government is inching us out of lockdown number three and promising a return to normal, it’s time to decide whether your Covid cuff was nothing more than a quaranfling that has now served its purpose.
How can you tell for sure whether your relationship is meant to go the distance, or was simply something to help get you though the last hellish year in one piece?
And is there really anything wrong with a relationship born from what is, ultimately, self-preservation?
Hayley Quinn, dating expert with Match, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It has been a weird year for dating: singles have had to navigate endless social restrictions, chilly park dates, and conduct their love lives on Zoom.
‘In normal single life, you’d have last-minute dates, parties and holidays with friends to add excitement to your life; but with the highs of single life off the table, it’s unsurprising that so many singles have sought to form a relationship with someone to ride out the pandemic with.
‘Research from Match states that 47% of people have been actively looking to find a relationship during the pandemic. “Turbocharging” has also been a real pandemic dating trend, where relationships have accelerated more rapidly through milestones like moving in together to avoid having a long-distance relationship during lockdown.’
Hayley says that, while coupling up with someone to avoid being alone for lockdown might sound ‘unromantic’, it ‘could actually be a great way to keep your love life alive’ – as long as everyone’s on the same page.
She tells us: ‘The most important part of having a successful quaranfling is that both people are transparent about what their relationship goals are – if one person believes coupling up is for life, and the other sees it as shorter term fling, then that will quite obviously create issues.
‘So, if you’re having a quaranfling, you should know about it.’
However, knowing exactly how you feel and why isn’t always that easy, especially during times like these.
Briony Leo, Psychologist and Head of Coaching at Relish, explains: ‘It can be tough to know whether a relationship is the real deal – particularly after such a strange time where the world has been upside down.
‘That said, some aspects of relationships are always the same. If you’ve been talking about the future together, and aspects of your lives are intertwined (e.g. cooking together or weekend plans together), that is a helpful sign – as well as if you have met each other’s friends, or have been engaging in activities together (e.g. online games or games nights).
‘Some signs that this is just a quaranfling might be that there hasn’t been much discussion of the future, that your lives are reasonably separate, that you haven’t met each other’s friends (even online).
‘Of course, the easiest way to discern this is to have a direct conversation with your partner and talk about what might happen after quarantine – being sure to state what you want (are you wanting to continue things?), giving them space to talk about what they want, and plan how you might handle any changes or shifts in the future.
‘We can anticipate major changes when things return to normal – including more social options, more dating options, opportunity to travel, changes in our working situations – and this will mean that both of your routines and needs will change.
‘In some ways, this might be a good opportunity to talk about your relationship and discuss the big questions – it is a kind of catalyst.’
If you’re starting to worry that your partner may think of your relationship as a quaranfling, Hayley says the best thing to do isn’t to keep guessing, but to communicate your worries and check if you’re on the same page or not.
If you’re coming to the realisation that your relationship was just a quaranfling on your end, Hayley recommends: ‘Be bold and communicate with the other person – there are few things people dislike more in dating than wasting their time.
‘It’s also perfectly possible to be transparent with someone whilst remaining kind.
‘You can acknowledge all the good things the relationship has brought to your life, whilst being unequivocal that it’s now time to move on.
‘Be prepared to hear the other person out and really listen, but don’t be too surprised if they’re actually thinking exactly the same thing.’
If you do happen to be or have been in a quaranfling, you should know that a relationship doesn’t have to last forever to be meaningful.
Hayley says: ‘Often you might have to experience several shorter run relationships to become clearer about what you want long term.
‘Likewise, just because a relationship doesn’t make it to the altar, doesn’t mean it lacks meaning.
‘Becoming good friends, being each other’s support during a hard time, or realising that you are just compatible at this phase in your lives, are all potential trajectories for a relationship that is still meaningful.’
After all, being single in a pandemic is hard, and having the right emotional support has been vital.
As long as you haven’t lied to the other person in your relationship, or made them feel like you 100% see a future with them, you shouldn’t necessarily feel bad for clinging to someone who could help you get through the turmoil of lockdown(s) in one piece.
It’s possible for the pair of you to step away from this quaranfling on good terms if you’re both able to accept that you got what you so desperately needed from each other and that’s OK.
Even if you were a bit confused at the time and really believed you two were in it for the long haul, better to realise now before things go any further.
‘Sometimes a relationship may not be right for us in our regular life – but just for the moment,’ said Briony.
‘A great example is holiday romances. Perhaps you both had your emotional and physical needs met during this challenging time, and although the relationship itself may not be a candidate for long term (e.g. you might have different values, different schedules, etc.), it has been enjoyable and distracting during quarantine.’
So what if you feel like your relationship has been a quaranfling, and you want to end it?
Briony says: ‘Breakups are always challenging – and so my advice is to have a conversation as early as possible about what each of you want.
‘What you don’t want is for you to be seeing this relationship as a short-term situation, whereas your partner is thinking this is forever.
‘As with any breakup or difficult conversation, giving lots of notice and choosing a calm time to talk about things is fundamentally important.
‘Making sure neither of you is affected by drugs or alcohol, or on your way somewhere (it’s amazing how many difficult conversations happen on their way to dinner parties!), and perhaps write down what you want to say.
‘Be clear about the reasons you’re ending the relationship, if you are the one who has made the decision.
‘If you have been broken up with, make sure you practice self-care and get the support of your friends – you may be more vulnerable right now.’
Even if you know a breakup is for the best, it can still be hard to deal with. That goes double for anyone who has been broken up with.
Briony recommends practising acceptance to help you through.
She says: ‘One helpful way of dealing with a quaranfling breakup might be to practice acceptance – to understand that you might both have intense emotional connections with each other, having spent a lot of time together in isolation (or having spoken every day and shared a lot of your emotional experiences) – but that isn’t necessarily a sign that you are meant to be together.
‘We talk about trauma bonding as a strong bond that is forged between two people who have gone through traumatic experiences together – and there might be an element of this at play.
‘It might help to make room for both of those realities – that you feel a strong emotional bond to this person, but also that they may not be the right person for you in the longer term.’
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