Match’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn, talks about managing your relationship with your partner during the pandemic

If you have a partner and you’re currently isolated with them at home, the lockdown may be causing a little strain in your relationship.

We all need a bit of space sometimes – and regular time apart, whether for work or the odd evening out with your friends, can do wonders for a relationship. It can be the difference between enjoying each other’s company and feeling you never get a moment to yourself. But right now that simply isn’t an option. Many of us will find ourselves sharing a small home with their other half, maybe with the added stress of money worries or children staying home too.

So how do you keep your personal space and manage living together 24/7 under one roof?

It’s usually just me at home – my husband works long restaurant shifts. But suddenly we’re both here 24/7. How can we adapt?

The biggest challenge for most couples right now is a lack of personal space, but there are things you can do to make it better. Take separate walks or long baths so you both get a bit of “me time”, but also try spending time together. Exercising, painting a room, digging the garden or even doing a jigsaw puzzle can relieve the stress.

How can we avoid bickering about silly things like who has control of the TV remote?

The secret here is not to try to do everything together. If you can’t agree which show to watch, try reading a book or listening to a good podcast instead and catching up later. Remember we’re all under pressure right now worrying about our health, our jobs and our families. So take a deep breath, count to 10 (or 100!) and remember these tough times will pass. Some things are more important than fighting over the remote, and your relationship is one of them.

Our flat is tiny. How can we make sure we each have the space we need?

Try working in different rooms. If you can’t, put your headphones on! Go for a short walk if you need some time alone, and take turns cooking so you both get the independence you need. But don’t ignore each other: do a home workout together or go out for a bike ride. You won’t need to talk much (which could be a relief!), but you’ll feel connected as you share the experience.

We are allowed to leave the house once a day. What are your tips for making the most of this time? Should we be together or alone?

If things are getting tense or stressful your daily walk, run or ride could give you the personal space you need to order your thoughts and relax. But if you would rather go out together, make it quality time. Leave your phones in your pockets and take the opportunity to listen and discuss how you are both really feeling. The best thing any of us can do for our partners is give them the emotional support and solidarity they need right now.

My partner is worried about his parents, who are stuck overseas. How can we cope with the extra stress?

It’s natural to worry, but don’t let it take over your life – especially if there’s nothing you can actually do. Take time away from the news or the internet, and allow yourself to take a day off to concentrate on things you enjoy: movies, pampering or just cooking a nice meal. Show your partner you have their back, even if it’s by doing something simple like making them lunch or just a nice cup of tea. Sometimes the little things say the most!

When you’re the only people we see and speak to face to face for days on end it’s bound to have an effect on a relationship, right?

Spending time apart is a great way to recapture the magic in a relationship, but when it’s not an option things can be tough. It’s worthwhile remembering that our partners, however wonderful they are, can’t provide all the emotional support anyone needs, so make sure to have online chats and virtual drinks with family and friends to give you a different perspective on everything!

My partner is getting irritated by all the video calls I’m making to my friends and family. What do I do?

The secret to any long-lasting relationship, even in normal times, is a little give and take. Of course you need to be considerate by wearing headphones and going into another room if possible. But you both need to remember that your extended social circles can give you vital moral support at the moment to take the pressure off your relationship.

My partner keeps interrupting me when I’m trying to work. How can I stop him?

Having one working partner and the other not while you’re both at home all the time can be a recipe for friction. Why not set up a dedicated work area where you can focus, and make sure you let your other half know if you’ve got a big meeting or a deadline to beat. And remember to try to be positive and offer a clear plan. If you say something like ‘I’ve got a big meeting until 5, so I really need you to leave me alone. But how about we go for a walk once I clock off?’ you’re making your position clear, but you don’t sound like the bad guy. And if that doesn’t work, try a playful tone. Say something like ‘you’re a very nice distraction but I’ll have to enjoy you later…’ A good partner should always respect your boundaries.

My boyfriend works as a chef, and he’s started deep cleaning my kitchen and treating me like a member of staff. How do I keep him busy and out of my hair?

Having a project to focus on – such as cleaning the kitchen – can really help people get through a tough situation like the lockdown. But you have your needs too! First, try a little humour to relieve the tension, but if that doesn’t work explain that you WILL help but you have other things to do first. Don’t forget to give praise where it’s due, so if they do clean your kitchen say thank you – even if it was annoying at the time!

Check out our new podcast ‘Love on Lockdown’

To help keep you company during the Lockdown, Match has launched its first podcast! Called ‘Love on Lockdown’ there’s a new episode every weekday to help singles discover how this could be the perfect time to find that special someone!

Get the confidence to start something real!

Need an extra dose of dating swagger? Check out our exclusive coaching videos with Match dating expert Hayley Quinn, one of the UK’s leading dating experts.