If you’d told me at the start of the first lockdown that I’d spend the second one living with a man I had been dating for less than two months, I’d have laughed in your face. Cackled. In April, I had only recently got out of a pretty intense situationship that, looking back, did not spark joy, just near-clinical anxiety, and had followed that with a very brief phase of ‘I will sleep with anyone who even blinks at me from across a room or shows mild interest on a dating app’ before being cock-blocked by Rona.
My boyfriend (R) and I met on Tinder when restrictions were at their most severe. In fact, it was while I was taking one of my frequent breaks from listening to the instructor on the Couch to 5k app who was gently encouraging me to run during my one government-mandated exercise period of the day that I opened the app, matched with R, and started chatting to him. He sent me an anti-Tory villanelle (we’re both English students, what can I say?), I decided I had time for him, and the rest is history. We didn’t actually meet in person until September, when he transferred to Exeter University (he swears this has nothing to do with me), and even then, the concept of meeting up with someone who you’d only talked to on the phone was very alien, especially given that we’d been operating like that for about 5 months.
When lockdown 2.0 was announced, it was actually my housemate who suggested R moved in. The thought hadn’t really entered my mind; I think I’d gone into some weird state of delirium. I weighed it up in my mind – did we really want to be THAT couple? Would it be a strain on our relationship? Could I cope with his snoring for a whole 28 nights? We concluded that, given that we’d only been together just over the amount of time we’d have to be apart in the national lockdown, living together was actually going to work better than being sad and sexless over FaceTime. We moved his stuff in the night before lockdown came into force and hunkered down for what was sure to be an interesting month.
Two weeks in, and we’re coping pretty well. Luckily, one of my housemates was moving out for lockdown and said R could sleep and work in her room, which has stopped us from feeling like we’re living on top of each other. That being said, we’ve slept every night so far in the same bed. I’m getting more used to the snoring (helped significantly by the Harry Styles sleep story on the Calm app), and even his habit of going barefoot in the kitchen is now just about tolerable (seriously, if you go barefoot in your communal student house kitchen you’re braver than a US Marine, and also I will never trust your feet anywhere near me). We’re cooking for each other regularly, going on little walks, watching a lot of films (not John Wick though, to his eternal disappointment), and haven’t killed each other yet. Our worst argument has probably been over our somehow astronomical groceries bill, or his incessant need to tickle me to the point of collapse.
If I had any tips for couples in a similar position, or those who may find themselves like this in the future, they would be:
- Make sure you have space from them! In normal times, you’d probably only be seeing them a few times a week, and it’s important to make sure you still have time for yourselves. If I can’t have time alone to watch BuzzFeed Unsolved, I will lose my mind.
- Play bad music loudly while you have sex so your housemates are annoyed by JLS, not the sex noises. There’s not a whole lot you can do about squeaky bedframes apart from blast ‘The Club is Alive (With the Sound of Music)’ – your housemates will thank you. Well, probably not, but you can try.
- Lay some ground rules, e.g. don’t come into my room while I’m working, buy your own milk, if you tickle me I am not responsible for my actions, if you let me eat the last biscuit we can watch John Wick next week, maybe.
I’m fairly confident that even if we break up one day, we’ll look back on this time as a period of growth; one in which we both learned to tolerate each other’s foibles (and BOY are there a lot of foibles), hugged often, discovered the best chicken pie recipe ever, found out that there is nothing in this world that I am worse at than gaming, and very nearly came to blows over Monopoly.
Conclusion: there’s no-one I’d rather be passive-aggressively arguing with over washing up techniques during the second peak of a global pandemic than him.
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