While the pandemic has forced us to live with a great deal of uncertainty, it has also helped us see our relationships more clearly. In a recent poll by Snap Inc., designed to measure this year’s impact on well-being and friendships, researchers stumbled on a pandemic silver lining: some people are finding that this year’s challenges have shown them how important their bonds truly are, and even prompted them to reconnect with old friends.
We asked the Thrive community to share how 2020 has impacted their relationships in beneficial ways. Read on and relate:
Parental leave that allowed for better bonding
“My husband and I have been together for 14 years, through kids, careers, commitments. Before COVID, our marriage and family life were on autopilot. We had our third baby just after the shutdown. You’d think all of it would have finally broken us, but my husband was able to spend my entire maternity leave at home with me. Our days were spent doing dance parties, making home-cooked meals, fishing, and having lots of family chats. My husband and I realized how much time we spent on things that didn’t impact our family, which led us to sell our house, downsize, and pay off over $30K in debt. We are stronger than ever because COVID forced us to live more mindfully.”
—Nesha V. Frazier, founder, Charleston, S.C.
Deeper connections in the workplace
“I’ve been making deeper connections with business contacts. Opening up about our struggles and the things we are doing to get through this time makes everyone seem more human. The willingness to be vulnerable is one of the silver linings that have come out of the pandemic.”
—Craig Inzana, marketing agency owner, Omaha, NE
A new appreciation for technology
“This year has strengthened my relationships with my three college roommates. The four of us have been out of school for 30 years and are scattered all over the east coast. Before COVID, we would go years without talking over the phone. Now, we have a call once a month and adjust our schedules so we’re sure not to miss it. Sometimes, we are all on video. Other times, we are on our phones walking outside. One of us took our monthly call from a bicycle once. We have used this time to coach each other through work goals, support each other through personal changes, vent, laugh, and celebrate. We call them our ‘COVIDeo chats.’ This is the main change I hope we retain when life returns to whatever ‘normal’ will mean post-COVID.”
—Donna Peters, career coach, podcast host, Atlanta, GA
More honesty and compassionate directness
“2020 has erased all superficial conversations in my life, especially those with friends. There is no small talk. We cut right to the challenges we’re facing with virtual schooling, our differences in political opinions, our marriages and what it’s like being with our spouses 24/7, or balancing job loss. I’ve been able to meet others and myself with a whole lot of grace, as we are all doing the best we can with the daily decisions we have to make.”
—Lisa Pezik, business strategist, Ontario, Canada
“My husband, Bill, and I have been married for 16 years this month. It’s a second marriage for both of us. For the last nine years, Bill has lived and worked 200 miles away. We speak on the phone every night and started off seeing each other on weekends. Over time, it became every other weekend, and then once a month. I feared that our relationship was floundering. Then came lockdown. Since March, we have spent more time together than we had in the previous eight years. We’ve rekindled our love and have made the most of our time together, while valuing the days we spend apart to get focused work done. We have come to a decision that the time is right for us to retire from our jobs. If it wasn’t for lockdown, we might have drifted apart.”
—Sue Palmer-Conn, certified divorce coach and chartered psychologist, Liverpool, U.K.
Time for introspection
“This year, I have strengthened my relationships with a number of key, trusted souls. However, the most important and significant relationship that I’ve strengthened has been my relationship with myself. I currently live alone. During this time, I’ve experienced a pendulum swing of deeply felt emotions including joy, sadness, grief, contentment, inner peace, and compassion. Spending so much time by myself meant there was nowhere to hide and far less distraction, which allowed me the incredible opportunity of taking a brave deep dive into inner work.”
—Anthea Alexander, emotional well-being mentor, Melbourne, Australia
Unexpected living situations — and opportunities to bond
“Two weeks before lockdown, I was living in a hotel because major work was being done on my place. I visited my best friend from university so I could see her try on her wedding dress. What was meant to be a weekend visit turned into a three-month stay with her. Being on a stay-at-home order could have been boring but we got inventive. We both were working from home, but when the weekend came we made the most of it: afternoon tea, barbecues, countryside walks, bike rides. Every weekend chose a new song to choreograph a routine to, and then send a video to our loved ones. hile I always thought our friendship would last the test of time, I now have no doubt that we’ll be friends forever.”
—Charelle Griffith, marketing strategist, London, U.K.
Not settling for “social media friendships”
“Being forced to stay away from people reminded me of what drew me to them in the first place. The pandemic also changed the way I viewed friends who I hadn’t talked to in a while. Before COVID, I had accepted the fact that some people simply fade out of your life. On at least two occasions, I have called someone who I lost touch with, instead of just writing on their Facebook wall or commenting on an Instagram picture. Both times we had an hour-long conversation, which reminded us why we were so close when our friendship started.”
—Kyle Grappone, clarity coach, Hamilton, NJ
How has the pandemic affected your relationship with friends, family members, colleagues, or even yourself? Tell us in the comments below.
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