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NI singletons looking for love as lockdown restrictions ease

We’re most eager region in UK for romance, but 26% are still worried about sex

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Despite the keenness of singles here to getting back in the dating game, one in four surveyed (26%) feel ‘out of practice’ in the bedroom, while a further 12% are not ready to be intimate again. Stock image posed by models

Despite the keenness of singles here to getting back in the dating game, one in four surveyed (26%) feel ‘out of practice’ in the bedroom, while a further 12% are not ready to be intimate again. Stock image posed by models

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Despite the keenness of singles here to getting back in the dating game, one in four surveyed (26%) feel ‘out of practice’ in the bedroom, while a further 12% are not ready to be intimate again. Stock image posed by models

Northern Ireland’s singles are throwing themselves back into dating faster than any other UK region, but a quarter are feeling nervous about having sex, a survey reveals.

As Covid restrictions continue to lift, 41% of single people here are keen to enter into romantic relationships compared to the overall UK rate of 36%.

The study, conducted by counselling charity RelateNI and dating and relationship site eHarmony, has revealed that 28% of people in Northern Ireland have said their self-esteem has increased in comparison to pre-pandemic levels.

The Way We Are Now 2021 report combines insights from counsellor focus groups and consumer polling, plus website and service data to produce its findings.

Despite the keenness of singles here to getting back in the dating game, one in four surveyed (26%) feel ‘out of practice’ in the bedroom, while a further 12% are not ready to be intimate again.

Meanwhile, nearly a third of those surveyed  32% who are more likely to enter into romantic relationships since the easing of restrictions believe they are doing so because they have a better sense of what they want from their rendezvous post-pandemic.

Another 23% of people said they did not want to waste any more time.

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The research also found that two thirds (66%) of adults in Northern Ireland agree that self-esteem is linked to success in a romantic relationship.

And while nearly 30% surveyed may have enjoyed increased levels of self-esteem since the start of the pandemic, nearly the same percentage (26%) said their self-esteem had decreased.

Duane Farrell, Relate NI chief executive, said the pandemic appears to have contributed to a split in self-esteem levels.

“A positive and balanced view of yourself is critical to overall wellbeing and building strong relationships of all kinds,” he said. 

“It is great that a third of those in Northern Ireland feel that their self-esteem has increased but for others it has taken a big hit.

“As we focus on ‘getting back out there’ don’t forget to take some time to also focus on yourself.”

He continued: “Learning to love yourself can mean different things to different people.

“It might be making time to get outside every day, saying no to a social engagement, or getting some support such as counselling.”

Reflecting on the report’s results, Rachael Lloyd, relationship expert at eHarmony said: “Lockdown was hard for a lot of people.

"However, it also gave singles the time to work out who they are and what they’re looking for in a partner.”

She added: “While it’s only natural that some people feel nervous about having sex again, lockdown has also created a boom in more meaningful dating, with people keen to find real substance.”

The expert added: “At eHarmony, we’ve seen this kind of thing happening before traumatic environmental events invariably lead to spikes in dating and people wanting to connect deeply with each other.”

As part of relationship week, people can access self-help content at relateni.org/relationshipsweek21


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