Needing Space During Lockdown: A Test of Relational Turbulence Theory in the Context of Conversations About Physical and Emotional Space During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Elizabeth Dorrance-Hall (Creator)
  • Liesel Sharabi (Creator)
  • David J. Roaché (Creator)
  • Laurie James-Hawkins (Creator)
  • Alyssa Croft (Creator)
  • Cassandra Alexopoulos (Creator)
  • Veronica M. Lamarche (Creator)
  • Maximiliane Uhlich (Creator)
  • Elisabeth Timmermans (Creator)



The COVID-19 pandemic upended home life for couples across the globe. Many couples faced increased relational uncertainty and interference from a partner as a result of stay at home and lockdown orders. This study uses relational turbulence theory to examine how (a) relational uncertainty and (b) partner interdependence are associated with cognitions and emotions about needing space conversations with a partner. We examine links between perceptions of needing space conversations and relational turbulence. In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 609 adults in a romantic relationship from 29 countries completed an online survey. Relationship uncertainty was negatively associated with relational cognitions (i.e., solidarity and intimacy), and interference from a partner was associated with more intense hopeful feelings about needing space conversations. Relational cognitions were associated with reduced relational turbulence, and hope was associated with higher relational turbulence. Theoretical implications for relational turbulence theory and practical implications for couples are discussed.
Date made available2023

Cite this