The impact of initial social distancing measures on individuals’ anxiety and loneliness depending on living with their romantic/sexual partners

Joseph M. Currin, Amelia E. Evans, Bridget M. Miller, Christopher Owens, Zachary Giano, Randolph D. Hubach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, large swaths of the U.S. were under stay-at-home orders, thus preventing many individuals from leaving their homes. While previous studies have shown that such orders can be detrimental to mental health, specific mental health outcomes, such as loneliness and anxiety, have yet to be fully explored, particularly among various living situation contexts (e.g., living alone, with romantic/sexual partners, without romantic/sexual partners). The current study explores this using a mixed-methods approach. Data were collected via Amazon’s M-Turk (N = 85). Kruskal–Wallis tests revealed significant differences between the three groups with respect to loneliness. Statistically significant greater levels of loneliness were found in individuals living alone compared to those living with romantic/sexual partners and those living with non-romantic/sexual partners. No significant differences in anxiety levels were detected. Qualitative analysis revealed similar themes among all groups regarding anxiety. When asked about loneliness, however, those living alone shared more about feeling isolated, unwanted feelings of solitude, and how technology only mitigates a portion of these feelings. Those living with others and sexual partners shared desires to see friends and co-workers, yet not to the severity described by individuals living alone. Romantic/sex life themes are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • Living situation
  • Loneliness
  • Social distancing

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