We've all had to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic, but for people in relationships who live apart, there's an extra challenge – essentially becoming long distance over the last couple of months. As the government rules look set to continue re spending time in each other's houses – safe-distance walks don't quite cut it when you're a couple – the temptation might be getting too much for some people. But, if you're currently living with someone who's going against government guidelines to see their other half, that doesn't mean you have to be ok with it. Here's how to politely put a stop to your housemate's lockdown love-ins, according to the experts.
Government Lockdown Guidelines For Couples Who Live Apart
First, let's run through the rules as they stand. Back in March, Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer, announced that during lockdown, couples who did not live together would have to either choose to live apart for now, or take the step to move into one household until rules relax. Despite certain rules being relaxed in May, this still stands. The only way you are now able to see anyone outside of your household is outside, while practising social distancing measures.
For couples, this still means no physical contact, or sense of privacy. But, if your housemate is currently breaking these rules with their partner in the room next door, talking to them about it might be tricky. I spoke to a couple of relationship experts to get their thoughts on the subject.
What The Experts Say About Couples Breaking Lockdown Rules
"It's not really okay for your roommate to do this," Joanne Barnett, dating coach and relationship expert tells me. However, she does advise that you take a step back to appreciate the situation, before talking to your housemate about it: "Try to be calm and understand that everyone is under pressure; relationships are under pressure."
Relate counsellor, Gurpreet Singh agrees that "of course, it’s really challenging for partners who don’t live together", and at the same time that "it’s understandable to feel unhappy and object to your roommate bringing home their partner during lockdown". However, he stresses that "this is a serious situation, and the government has issued clear guidelines for how you can meet members of other households".
How To Talk To Your Housemate About It
In short, you're totally within your rights to bring up the situation with your housemate, but staying calm, and approaching things with sensitivity is key. "Rather than engaging in a full blown argument with your flatmate over it, or worse ignoring them so resentment builds up, it’s better to discuss it with them in a calm manner," Singh suggests.
"Avoid entering into a standoff situation. This is not the time to increase tension in your household," he continues. "It’s much better to approach the conversation from a position of understanding, and negotiate a solution that you’re both comfortable with, and that respects government guidelines."
Timing is another important factor. Singh recommends trying to approach your housemate when their partner is not around, and when you're both in a comfortable and relaxed place. "Talking during the evening over a meal or watching TV, when you’re both more relaxed, is a good idea. In a more informal setting like this, you might be better able to understand the other person’s position."
The best way to start the conversation? Be honest and direct, tell them how you feel and that you're worried for the good of all of your health. And, remember to hear them out. Good luck!