A year ago, the world went crazy with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the concept of a lockdown.
Originally pitched as a 15-day solution to "slow the spread" of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections by "flattening" the epidemic curve, government-imposed lockdowns became an ongoing fact of life for many around the world. Worse, they became the go-to policy for many public officials who used them to cover their inability to adapt to the pandemic's demands, week after week after week. At this writing, parts of the world are still going into COVID lockdowns, some for the third or fourth time since the start of the pandemic.
For couples, these lockdowns has meant spending a lot more time together than would have otherwise happened in a world without the coronavirus pandemic. Having their places of work closed by lockdowns forced many couples to work from home if they could. At the same time, the lockdown stay-at-home orders prevented them from visiting others or having guests. The end result is much more "together time" than anyone would have imagined before the pandemic.
But how much more time is that? And how does that compare to a year of time couples would have spent together in the pre-COVID world?
Questions like these led BBC presenter and Cambridge doctoral maths candidate Bobby Seagull to develop a formula to quantify how much more perceived together time couples have accumulated as a result of the lockdowns.
We've taken the math and built the tool below to do it, using data collected from a survey of 2,000 couples conducted by Groupon earlier this year as the default data. Substitute your own numbers as you might like to see how your relationship has relatively aged!
Most of the data input items are very straightforward, but one represents a subjective judgement. The "Boredom Factor" represents how the lack of options for entertainment or away-from-home social gathering contributes to making time spent with your partner seem like more time is passing than is really the case. Which is to say that often being bored 'ages' your relationship.
In the tool, we've opted to make that factor a "Yes" or "No" proposition, where if you feel you've experienced the boredom factor, selecting "Yes" will double the amount of additional time you have spent together outside of what would have been the case before being locked down.
If you select this factor, the final answer then is the 'perceived' amount of time your relationship has aged, as a multiple of the time you would have had together without the pandemic. Not selecting it will give you an estimate of the actual number of equivalent pre-pandemic years the additional time spent together you have accumulated in lockdown.
All in all, the result is a number that, for most, will be the equivalent of multiple years of time together as a couple. A result of one, on the other hand, would mean that your time in lockdown went about the same as it would have in a pre-lockdown world.
Either way, it's an interesting way to approach the question, which is why we took on the project!