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Will life return to normal once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, or will the virus have lasting effects on social and psychological aspects of our lives?
The Doctors examine what a post-COVID world may look like with evolutionary psychologist Dr. Martie Haselton, who discusses the possible dark and concerning findings of her recent study, along with relationship expert and psychiatrist Dr. Ish Major.
The UCLA study predicts the virus will negatively affect birthrates, along with increasing the number of divorces and instances of domestic abuse. The study authors theorize that lower birthrates could lead to negative effects on the economy and the availability of jobs. Additionally, gender equality could suffer due to the pandemic, as more women are having to be in charge of child care and schooling and are being forced to forgo their careers.
Dr. Haselton notes that even before the pandemic that most moms felt pressure about handling both career and family, and now with kids at home, she explains there is often the expectation that women will "pick up the slack." She also warns that reverting back to more traditional gender roles in the home may lead to more conservative social views on issues like reproductive rights and equality for sexual minorities.
When it comes to relationships, Dr. Haselton says while being forced to start a new relationship remotely can help people get to know each other better, she worries that only meeting in the "2D world" can lead to issues when people meet in the "3D world." Our experts also share there will be a 13 percent drop in birth rates, which could lead to a larger elderly population.
Dr. Ish points to how important getting to know someone in person is and explains how hormones, physical reactions and chemical reactions in the body kick in when we are with someone else -- something that might not be happening during a Zoom date. He worries about people who have started new relationships with someone they might not have ever met in person.
Both Dr. Ish and Dr. Haselton worry that when the world returns to normal, many of the relationships created in the midst of the pandemic might crumble and the relationships that were hanging on by a thread before COVID will finally break.
Dr. Ish hopes these issues will force people to take control of their narrative. "This is not about stepping back," he says. "This is about stepping up... there is strength in all roles" He stresses each person in the relationship needs to feel, valued, loved, connected, and appreciated -- along with having an ongoing dialogue about what roles and responsibilities are best for each person.
Also, our experts feel the pandemic may lead to more people focusing on taking care of their mental health, seeking out support and therapy, which should benefit not only the individual but the entire household.