• In hindsight, there’s no mistaking that recent years have brought a whole host of changes for everyone — namely, the pandemic, vaccines, and social movements.
  • With these changes, there’s been a lot to take in; but some of the bigger subjects have affected our personal connections with the people to whom we’re closest. 
  • New research by Thriveworks found that over half of Americans have experienced some type of negative impact on a personal relationship due to clashing beliefs on recent events or hot topics like the pandemic. 

In many ways, the country is divided now more than ever before. As much as we’d love to see eye to eye with everyone around us, recent research* from Thriveworks shows that 54% of Americans have experienced some type of negative impact on at least one personal relationship as a result of conflicting viewpoints on recent major events and topics. 

Discover which issues are driving the largest wedges between us and our friends, family, coworkers—and most significantly—our romantic partners.   

Which Issues Are Fueling the Fallout? 

Poll numbers reveal that the top issues negatively impacting our relationships are personal disagreements regarding views on the pandemic, politics, vaccines, social justice movements, and conspiracy theories: 

  • 31% of survey respondents reported that the pandemic negatively impacted their relationships
  • 26% indicated that differences in political views negatively impacted their relationships
  • 21% reported that differing viewpoints related to vaccines negatively impacted their relationships
  • 18% of respondents said opposing views related to social and civil movements such as BLM or transgender rights negatively impacted their relationships 
  • 16% of respondents indicated that someone’s belief in one or more conspiracy theories negatively impacted their relationships 

These topics, whatever our personal viewpoint, are clearly divisive — and as the results indicate, most of us haven’t made it through the past three years without experiencing some sort of relational fallout. 

Clashing Mindsets and Frayed Friendships

The relationships in hot water over the subjects listed above were with friends, family members, partners, and professional colleagues—but our friendships suffered the most. Here’s the full breakdown:  

  • 60% of participants noted that a friendship had been negatively affected
  • 23% indicated that a romantic relationship with their partner had been negatively affected
  • 22% reported that a relationship with a sibling had been negatively affected
  • 20% of respondents experienced a negative effect on a relationship with a parent 
  • 19% reported that a relationship with a colleague had been negatively impacted
  • 10% indicated that a professional relationship with one’s boss had been negatively affected
  • 7% reported other unnamed relationships suffering, as well

From our parents to our professional connections, it seems that no connection has been spared. But perhaps the most significant is the way that the COVID-19 pandemic has uniquely affected personal relationships. 

Pandemic-Related Disagreements with Partners 

Some of the most dramatic findings from the survey uncovered that relationships were heavily affected by not only the pandemic, but by the resulting shift in both activities and perspectives. Of those who said the pandemic negatively impacted their relationship with their partner, the following were the top outcomes: 

  • We haven’t been able to have as much fun as we did before the pandemic – 54% 
  • We started arguing – 42% 
  • We have struggled to effectively communicate – 40% 
  • We drifted apart – 27% 
  • Increased time together made me question our relationship – 22% 
  • We have not been able to spend as much time together and have drifted apart – 20% 
  • I realized we don’t have as much in common as I thought – 20% 
  • More time spent together made me realize we have nothing in common – 13% 

Calling It Quits After Quarantine

While social distancing measures and quarantine precautions may have felt like heaven for some, considering it might’ve equated to more quality time with their partner, others found quite the opposite. Though not everyone surveyed experienced a relationship that ended, 12% of survey respondents broke up with their partner, and another 5% divorced, or separated (2%). 

*A study of 1005 Americans commissioned by Thriveworks and conducted by Censuswide in January 2022. 

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