Impact of Long Covid on relationships

We asked people with Long Covid and those living with people with Long Covid about the impact it has had on their relationships.

This section covers:

  • Parent and child relationships
  • Sibling relationships
  • Friendships
  • Intimate partner relationships

Parent and child relationships

Several parents with Long Covid talked about not feeling able to be the parent they once were to their children. For some this caused considerable guilt. Sara feels like she is a “worse parent” since getting Long Covid and Vonnie says her children feel like “they’ve lost someone.” Paul’s daughter gets sad that she can’t do the things she used to do with him. However, he’s trying to focus on who he is as a person and to remember that Long Covid hasn’t changed what his family love about him. Although Ada is grateful for the support she has from her in-laws, she says, “I’m their mum. I want to be their mum… I want that mentally and physically to be there for them.”

Paul’s daughter gets sad that she can’t do a lot of the things she used to do with him.

Parents with children who have Long Covid also talked about the impact on parenting relationships, including their sadness and worry for not only their child with Long Covid but also their other children. When getting her children ready for school, Emma A felt guilty about giving all her attention to her daughter with Long Covid and forgetting to say goodbye to her other child. Lindsey supports her wife and child who both have Long Covid. She says the pressure on her is “just constant.” She feels that there is not enough support out there for the partners and parents of those who have Long Covid.

When getting her children ready for school, Emma A says she felt guilty for giving all her attention to her child with Long Covid– “I just came home and cried and cried and cried.”

Sibling relationships

Some people talked about how siblings had reacted to having a family member with Long Covid. Siblings were described as being supportive, taking more care of their siblings or, if they were older, helping out more in the family, but some acknowledged that they likely worried and had some frustrations. Younger siblings who played together had found new ways to play. Bella’s younger sister can no longer run around with her but they play Lego and cards instead.

Deidre says her two daughters look out for their sister more now, which is nice.


Long Covid had impacted most people’s friendships in some way. Ways to meet up with friends had changed. Amira and Abigail saw friends less out of school because they were so tired or had so many medical appointments. Freya can no longer manage sleepovers as much but FaceTime had been a way for her to keep in contact with her friends.

The young adults we spoke to met up with their friends more at home. When Lucy B does go out with her friends she now does lunch rather than “dinner and drinks” and the venue has to be step-free. Her friends have been supportive, but she thinks “everyone struggles to adjust.”

Long Covid had impacted some people’s ability to maintain friendships, especially children and young adults. For Xanthe and Evie, maintaining friendships took too much energy and they were “just focusing on getting through the day.” James found it difficult to build a friendship group at his new school when he was off for weeks at a time.

Since Amira has had Long Covid she doesn’t really see her friends anymore. She says “I feel like it’s putting me more away from them.”

Friendships could be affected when people didn’t understand what it was like to live 24/7 with Long Covid, or didn’t believe that Long Covid existed. Helen, a parent with Long Covid, described some of her friendship groups as being “nourishing and helpful” but others had been difficult. Some, including teenager Abigail, described their friends as being “completely fine with it” whereas others talked about falling out or drifting apart from friendship groups.

Charlotte, a parent with Long Covid, missed having “a normal laugh” with her friends. She explained, “the only people who would treat me the same are my parents and my husband and my sister. My sister comes and moans to me all about her life and her kids and boyfriend and a job and I just love it because that’s what she would’ve done anyway. And she’ll say to me, ‘your house is a right mess’. I love that because everybody else doesn’t be like that anymore.”

Hannah has lost some friends since developing Long Covid, but she says it’s made other friendships stronger.

Some people were more likely to catch up with friends and family over video call rather than in person. Ravi said the risk of getting Covid again was “always in the back of your mind.”

Ravi, a parent with Long Covid, does not see his friends very often. He is much more cautious since getting Covid.

Intimate partner relationships

The impact of Long Covid on people’s intimate partner relationships varied. Ada, Michelle, Lindsey and others said that it had put a strain on their relationships, through changing roles within the family and added pressures on partners. Some people with Long Covid, including Ada who had anxiety and Charlotte who has lost her confidence, now felt different about themselves which they felt had an impact on their relationship with their partner.

Christian says that because of his Long Covid, his wife sometimes gets resentful and cross as she “effectively has to be a single parent” and carer on some days.

People we talked to knew of others who had separated from their partner as a result of the added pressure of Long Covid. One person told us, “I just worry he’ll not– why does he want to stay with me when I’m like this? It’s a normal worry, I think. And I’ve started saying to him, you know, “go out on your Christmas. Go on your own.” And I think he feels like a single person, but not a single person, you know. It’s hard for him.”

While she feels ‘lucky’ that she and her partner are still together, Layla says there is an underlying tension in her relationship.

Others including Beth felt it hadn’t had much of a negative impact. Deirdre’s child has Long Covid, but feels her relationship with her husband has not changed as a result. She says “we’re quite a tight knit family.” Xanthe talks about recently starting a relationship with someone who also has Long Covid.

Beth says her relationship with her husband has not been affected by their daughter’s Long Covid. They’ve been through tough times previously and this has brought them closer together.

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