Young Britons most likely to break Coronavirus rules in the pursuit of romance

A new survey by Ipsos MORI shows a significant minority of Britons aged 18-75 are prepared to break Coronavirus rules in the name of romance.

The author(s)

  • Kelly Beaver Managing Director, Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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One in five Britons in relationships (22%) and one in five Britons that are single (20%) say that they have broken government-imposed restrictions or lockdown rules to either spend time with their partner or go on a date / pursue a romantic relationship. 

Have you broken the coronavirus rules for romance?However, these numbers vary by age group. 45% of those aged 18-34 in a relationship have broken the rules to spend time with their partner and 29% of singles in the same age group have broken the rules to go on a date or pursue a romantic relationship. These figures are much lower among older age groups. 15% for both groups among 35-54s and 12% / 6% respectively among those aged 55-75. 

Have you broken the coronavirus rules for romance? (Age groups)Meanwhile, 1 in 5 (19%) Britons in relationships are experiencing more arguments with their partner since the Coronavirus outbreak, with women (25%) twice as likely as men (12%) to say they have been arguing more. Couples with children in the home (24%) are more likely than those without (16%) to be arguing more and those aged 18-34 are more likely to be arguing more (28%) than those in other age groups. However, overall, 52% of those in a relationship have seen no change in how often they argue with their partner, 9% say they are having less arguments and 19% say they did not argue before the outbreak anyway. 

Of those in relationships, 43% say they are spending more time together since the outbreak of Coronavirus. 10% say they are spending less time together. 43% say there has been no change.

How has your relationships changed due to the coronavirus?The pandemic seems to have had little difference on the amount of sex couples are having. Six in ten of those in relationships (60%) say there has been no change since the Coronavirus pandemic started, 15% say they are having sex more often while 14% say it is happening less. 31% of those in relationships aged 18-34 say they are having more sex compared to 15% overall.

Four in ten (41%) of those in relationships say they have grown closer to their partner since the outbreak began, increasing to 6 in 10 (59%) of those aged between 18-34.  One in ten (10%) say they have grown further apart and 45% say neither. Overall, 18-34s are both more likely than older cohorts to say they have grown closer to their partner and more likely to say they have grown further apart. Older age groups are much more likely to say there has been no change – perhaps because their relationship has lasted longer.

How has your relationships changed due to the coronavirus?Elsewhere in the poll, whilst half of Britons aged 18-75 have seen little difference (49%), 4 in 10 are feeling more lonely since the Coronavirus outbreak began (40%). 10% feel less lonely.

Women (44%) are more likely than men (34%) to say they feel more lonely. This matches a trend elsewhere in the survey where 58% of Britons say they are finding it harder to stay positive about the future than before Coronavirus, with women (66%) more likely than men (50%) to say this is the case – a trend that we have consistently seen since March.

Kelly Beaver, Managing Director of Public Affairs Ipsos MORI, says:

As we start the second week of national lockdown, the rules and restrictions are certainly having an impact on the nation’s love lives. Our latest Ipsos MORI polling shows that it’s the youngest, those aged 18-34, who are the ones most likely to break the rules to go on a date or pursue a romantic relationship. Having children also clearly has an impact, with one in four couples with children saying they’re arguing more since the outbreak began. We also continue to see the gendered impact of COVID, with almost half of women saying they are feeling more lonely since the COVID outbreak began compared to just over a third of men.

Technical note:

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,077 British adults aged 18-75. Interviews were conducted online from 30th October to 2nd November, 2020. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

The author(s)

  • Kelly Beaver Managing Director, Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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