You're not imagining it. Everyone around you is breaking up right now.


On the weekend, I caught up with an old friend.

We greeted each other not with a hug, but with an awkward elbow bump. Then, we sat a solid metre apart from each other while we enjoyed our coffees.

Then, things got even weirder.

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My friend told me that she’d just split from her partner of six years after he’d confessed to sleeping with one of her best friends behind her back for over a year.

While I was shattered for my friend, I wasn’t actually as shocked as you might expect.

You see, this was the fourth friend of mine to go through a major breakup since January.

On top of that, another friend’s parents have just announced they are separating after 34 years of marriage.

What is going on?

With the state of the current news cycle, I’d forgive you for thinking that finding an answer to this right now is quite frankly the least of our worries.

But actually, I think the two things may be linked.

We all know that January/February time is rife with breakups and divorce. As people reflect on another year gone by and begin to think about what they want from the new year ahead, big decisions are made.

Sometimes that means ending a relationship that’s probably actually been circling the drain for quite some time.

But in 2020, this feeling of existential uncertainty is magnified tenfold. It has trickled into March and will likely hang around until April, May and beyond.


In January, we faced devastating bushfires in which 33 people died, a billion (yes, a billion) animals were lost, and almost 2000 homes were destroyed.

Even if not directly affected, the devastation felt personal. Our own backyard was burning. This wasn’t just a ‘bad bushfire season’; the severity of these fires was a direct result of climate change. Everything that means for the future of our planet? Well, it’s… a lot.

Then the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant and Caroline Flack in January and February respectively hit hard, reminding us that life is short and precious, that we must hold loved ones close and also be kind. Someone we care about can be gone in an instant, be taken from us or leave without a goodbye.

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And now we are facing a new crisis. Not one that just affects Australians, either. At the time of writing, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 6610 people worldwide. It continues to spread. There is no vaccine and no cure.

We are socially distancing, self-isolating, alone with our thoughts.

Yes, big, scary, unexpected events make us think. They make us question. We reevaluate our lives and the people in them. Do we feel reassured and comforted by our partners during these tough times? Or are they just another thing we feel uncertain about?

If you’ve watched Years and Years, you’ll remember Daniel’s story arc well. It’s 2024. He’s married to Ralph, but he’s met Viktor, a refugee, and he’s falling in love. When he hears about the imminent threat of a missile strike on New Year’s Eve, he panics, realising he’s not with person he wants to live – or die – with. So he leaves Ralph to find Viktor.

That’s what I’m talking about.

Feature Image: Getty.