Intimate Relationships in Times of COVID-19: A Descriptive Study of Belgian Partners and their Perceived Well-Being

Laura Sels, Sarah Galdiolo, Justine Gaugue, Marie Geonet, Pauline Verhelst, Claudia Chiarolanza, Ashley K. Randall, Lesley Verhofstadt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


How did couples in Belgium cope during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic? In this study, grounded in relationship science, we investigated in a descriptive manner several factors that could affect how couples perceived individual and relational wellbeing during this time. Specifically, we examined the associations between gender, sexual orientation, parental status, and relationship duration on participants' self-reported individual and relational well-being after the first lockdown (more generally and more specific in response to COVID-19). Additionally, we investigated if relational well-being predicted perceived change in individual well-being from pre- to post- COVID-19 regulations. To test these hypotheses, self-report data was collected during the Summer of 2020 in both the Dutch and French speaking part of Belgium. Data from 679 participants suggested that individual and relational well-being only differed based on parental status (and not by gender nor sexual orientation). Importantly, parents reported lower relational well-being than participants without children, while participants without children reported higher perceived increases in depression. People that had been in a relationship for longer also reported lower relational well-being, but this relationship was explained by other confounding factors. Relational well-being buffered increases in individual distress that people perceived to have occurred pre- COVID-19 regulations to after COVID-19 regulations went into effect. These findings might inform practice and policy for individuals in a romantic relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPsychologica Belgica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Intimate relationships
  • Relationship quality
  • Wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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