Pandemic led NI Adults to experience both positive & negative changes in Self-Esteem in Equal Measure

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Relate NI encourages people to work on loving themselves this Relationships Week (5-11 July)

relationships week 2021

Almost a third (28%) of people living in Northern Ireland say their self-esteem has increased compared with pre-pandemic levels. In contrast, 26% said their self-esteem had decreased . This is according to new report ‘The Way We Are Now 2021’, released by leading relationships charity Relate and relationship experts eharmony during Relationships Week (5-11 July).

The report combines insights from counsellor focus groups and consumer polling, plus website and service data. It considers how single people and couples have reacted to lockdown easing and identifies key attitude and behaviour changes, as well as offering tips from counsellors for building healthy relationships with yourself and others.

The research found that two thirds (66%) of adults in Northern Ireland agree that self-esteem is linked to success in a romantic relationship . That’s why Relate NI is using Relationships Week to encourage people to work on arguably the most important relationship of all: the one with themselves.

Relate NI CEO, Duane Farrell said the pandemic appears to have contributed to a split in self-esteem levels: “A positive and balanced view of yourself is critical to overall wellbeing and building strong relationships of all kinds. It’s great that a third of those in NI feel their self-esteem has increased but for others it has taken a big hit. As we focus on ‘getting back out there’ don’t forget to take some time to also focus on yourself. Learning to love yourself can mean different things to different people – it might be making time to get outside every day, saying no to a social engagement, or getting some support such as counselling.”

Across the whole of the UK, the top reasons that have contributed to their self-esteem increasing were paying more attention to physical health (30%), realising how strong they are for getting through a pandemic (24%) and taking up a new hobby (24%) . For those who said their self-esteem has decreased now, compared to pre the Covid-19 pandemic, this was driven by not being able to socialise with friends and family (48%), money worries (42%) and not prioritising their physical health (40%). Comparison with others on social media (23%) was another key factor. Self-esteem amongst women had decreased more than men now, compared to pre pandemic times (32% vs 18%) .

NI Singles More Likely To Be Throwing Themselves Back Into Dating

The report shows that as restrictions lift a large number of singles in NI (41%) are keen to enter into romantic relationships with one or more people, a higher number than the overall average of 36%. In addition almost 4 in 10 respondents (37%) have made more effort than pre the Covid-19 pandemic to learn from previous mistakes and/or recognise unhealthy romantic patterns. Over a fifth of single people surveyed (24%) noted that they use self-help resources including books, online quizzes or advice from wellness influencers more than they did pre the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nearly a third (32%) of single people surveyed in NI who are more likely to enter into romantic relationships, since restrictions have relaxed, think this is because they have a better sense of what they want from a relationship than before the pandemic, and 23% don’t want to waste any more time. However, sex presents an issue for some. One in four NI singles surveyed (26%) feel ‘out of practice’ in the bedroom, while a 12% are not ready to be intimate again.

Rachael Lloyd, relationship expert at eharmony said: “Lockdown was hard for a lot of people, but it also gave singles the time to work out who they are and what they’re looking for in a partner. While it’s only natural that some people feel nervous about having sex again, lockdown has also created a boom in more meaningful dating, with people keen to find real substance. At eharmony, we’ve seen this kind of thing happening before – traumatic environmental events invariably lead to spikes in dating and people wanting to connect deeply with each other.”

The Way We Are Now’ report has been released to launch Relate’s annual Relationships Week (5-11 July). People can access self-help content on learning to love yourself throughout the Week and beyond, and information on services to help boost self-esteem is available at Download a copy of the report at from Tuesday 6 July.

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