Lockdown creates a wave of "Turbo Relationships", with new couples quicker to commit

Release Date: Wednesday 24th June 2020

New ‘Relationships in Lockdown’ report from eharmony and Relate explores how Brits are responding to the pandemic.

  • Over a third (36%) of people newly living with a partner believe the past two months feel equivalent to two years of commitment – and common relationship milestones (like moving in together) were met quicker
  • More than half (59%) of new couples feel more committed to their partner than ever, but 17% say lockdown made them realise the relationship is over
  • Common areas of conflict for couples include children (11%), finances (10%) and mismatched opinions on lockdown rules (9%); with some affairs uncovered
  • Two in five (40%) single people battling loneliness, though isolation has made others (29%) realise they are happier on their own
  • More than half (59%) of new couples feel more committed to their partner in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, creating a wave of ‘turbo relationships’

That’s according to the ‘Relationships in Lockdown Report’, published today by eharmony and leading relationships charity Relate. Using direct insight from counsellor focus groups combined with omnibus research, the report reveals how couples and singles are coping against the backdrop of a pandemic, and how things look set to change once lockdown is fully lifted.

1. Turbo relationships

A key finding of the report was the impact of Covid-19 on couples that are newly living together. Navigating lockdown as a pair has made close to two-thirds (63%) say their relationship feels stronger, and over half (58%) now know they want to be with their partner forever.

Coined ‘turbo relationships’, over a third (36%) agree that two months in isolation feels equivalent to two years of commitment, and the same amount (36%) say they’ve reached common relationship milestones, such as moving in together, quicker. This acceleration has also led to more sex (23%), better communication (28%) and the opportunity to discover new, shared passions (18%).

“In wider periods of societal unrest, couples often pull together”, explains Relate Counsellor, Peter Saddington: “The combination of more time spent together, heightened anxiety levels and the removal of common routines – like seeing friends – is an intense mix. And, whilst many of the consequences of these turbo relationships are encouraging, people must remember we are living through a unique set of circumstances. If your relationship doesn’t continue at the same pace or feelings lessen post-lockdown, that doesn’t spell disaster. Communication is vital to allow couples to navigate what feels right when normal life resumes.”

2. The impact on longer-term love

It’s not just ‘turbo relationships’ that have benefitted from lockdown, close to half (42%) of all couples have welcomed the ‘quality time’ it’s allowed. Over a third (36%) now feel more grateful for their partner, and one in seven (15%) have seen a more caring side to them.

Sadly, one in seven couples (14%) say that lockdown has made them realise that their relationship is over.  In addition, 4% of people uncovered a virtual affair and 3% uncovered an affair in real life.

When looking at the reasons behind arguments, children (11%), finances (10%) and mismatched opinions on lockdown rules (9%) were revealed as the top three sources of tension. Mismatched sex drives was another concern – with men more likely to cite this as a negative consequence of lockdown (9% of men compared with 6% of women).

3. Single life and sex

Loneliness was the biggest reported negative issue experienced by single people in lockdown, with  two in five (40%) feeling this way. Over a third (35%) also agree that isolation has had a negative impact on their overall mental health.

However, this loneliness has pushed many single people to develop romantic relationships online. In fact, eharmony sign-ups were up 50% year on year across April and May. Over that same initial lockdown period, communication rates online at eharmony also tracked a third higher on average.

Time alone has afforded singles some positives though. Four in ten (39%) believe they’ve been able to reclaim their own time and, remarkably, over a quarter (29%) think lockdown has made them realise they are happier alone. One in five (21%) feel more in tune with their sexuality.

Sex is certainly on the mind for some, and has been a topic of conversation in Relate counseling sessions. Seven percent (7%) admit breaking lockdown rules to meet an ex for sex. And, over one in ten singles (13%) have plans for a ‘hook up’ as soon as the rules are relaxed – with men much more focused on this aspect of single life than women (20% vs. 5%).

eharmony relationship expert Rachael Lloyd comments: “Make no mistake, we are living in  historic times, with a pandemic and the resulting lockdown having a profound impact on the way we live and love. Relationships have been seriously tested, as have many friendships. It’s not usual for a couple or singles to exist physically cut off from the wider community, we rely on a range of supportive bonds to process experiences and emotions. In this context, I’m delighted to see more than half of couples (59%) feel closer than ever. However, it’s also not surprising that around 17% say they’ve decided to move on.

“What’s really interesting, is the creation of so-called turbo relationships whereby couples who’d never usually move at such speed may have found themselves living together within weeks of meeting – and largely thriving. However, the desire for meaningful connections remains for many singles, eharmony sign ups increased 50% YOY in April and May, and our Video Date feature helped increase communication by a third.”

Relate Counsellor, Peter Saddington, adds: “In our now virtual counselling sessions we’re hearing how increased pressure around finances and the stress of juggling work and home schooling is taking its toll on some relationships. Disagreements about lockdown rules are common across the board no matter how long a couple has been together, and loneliness has been a key issue for single people. If, like some respondents, you’ve uncovered an affair during lockdown then that’s a lot to deal with, particularly if you’re still living with your partner. We’d urge anyone experiencing relationship issues during lockdown to consider webcam or telephone counselling. You can attend on your own or as a couple and many people say they’re finding it easier to open up in the comfort of their own homes.”


For more information, please contact:

Lauren Westmore - Third City

T: 07464543693 E: lauren@thirdcity.co.uk


Liam Reeves – Third City

T: 07398 268 187 E: liam@thirdcity.co.uk


Relate and eharmony conducted a focus group among six working Relate counsellors to gain insight into the state of relationships and single life based on the sessions they have held in lockdown.

Opinium on behalf of Third City conducted supplementary UK research in June 2020, among a nationally representative sample of 2,002 UK adults (18+). A boost of 365 UK adults that have been together less than a year and are living together was added to this sample to quantify the topic of ‘turbo relationships’.

About eharmony.co.uk

eharmony launched in the UK in 2008 with a clear vision: to create more lasting love in the world. The experts at eharmony use an intelligent Compatibility Matching System (CMS) to match singles, according to 32 bespoke dimensions of compatibility. These are powerful indicators of relationship satisfaction. On average, every 14 minutes someone finds love on eharmony.

About Relate

Relate is the leading relationships charity and the Relate Federation is the largest provider of relationship support in England and Wales. Offering counselling, information, mediation and support to individuals, couples and families, we currently work online and on the phone with people of all backgrounds and sexual orientations at all stages of life. Find out more at relate.org.uk.

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