Not your kids or pets, but living with your romantic partner can help you feel more socially connected during the pandemic, which may ultimately lead to higher well-being, a new study suggests. The study indicates that people living with a romantic partner were most likely to improve in social connection after social distancing measures.
"Research prior to the pandemic has long shown that partners are one of the strongest predictors of social connection and well-being," said researcher Karynna Okabe-Miyamoto from the University of California - Riverside. "And our research during the current Covid-19 pandemic has shown the same. Living with a partner uniquely buffered declines in social connection during the early phases of the pandemic," Okabe-Miyamoto added.
For the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the team included more than 800 adults in two studies. In the studies, participants reported their perceived social connection before and during the pandemic.
They were asked to rate statements such as "I felt close and connected with other people who are important to me" and "People are around me, but not with me."
They were also asked to declare their social distancing adherence and whether they travel outside of the home for work. Looking at participants before and during the pandemic, the researchers said that people living with a romantic partner were most likely to improve in social connection after social distancing measures.
Working outside the home did nothing to help people feel socially connected, nor did video calls with friends and family, the team said. The researchers said the finding is consistent with past research that affirms romantic relationships lead to a greater sense of wellbeing and feeling connected.