sex and relationships

What It’s Like Self-Isolating With Someone You Just Started Dating

“I feel robbed of the excitement of the honeymoon period and my independence.”
24 March 2020, 10:47pm
Self-Isolating New Relationship Dating Coronavirus COVID-19 VICE 2020
Photo: Emily Bowler

As both a queer woman and victim of the housing crisis, I have more than enough empathy for anyone who has ever met someone off Hinge, decided they were “the one” based on their haircut and embarked on a date that simply… never ended. Who among us hasn't moved in with someone after two weeks because they have a nice butt and can play the drums before realising that they microwave raw chicken and that no one should call their mum more than three times a day?

In the past, these "move in with someone you've just started dating” situations might happen occasionally. Sometimes they'd work out; other times not (everyone knows someone whose parents moved in after three days and have been married for 25 years – good for them). But with the recent COVID-19 outbreak forcing many to self-isolate for 14 days or longer – along with Monday's shutdown to keep people at home – brand new partners must decide to either not see each other for an indefinite period of time or else take the plunge and commit to self-isolation together.

So how is it panning out for those who have chosen the latter? We spoke to a few people who have been dating someone for three months or less before choosing to live together amid the outbreak.

“We eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of red wine and have sex”

We met on Tinder right at the end of January. We were both very reluctant to label anything, we were just having a nice and sexy time. For context, I have been living alone for almost two years very happily – I also work from home and enjoy it. To have someone even stay over two or three nights a week seemed like a big step for me.

By the end of February, he made it clear that the room he was subletting was horrible and wanted to find a new place of his own, so asked if he could stay with me for two to three weeks, to which I agreed. Suddenly, come the second week of March, we're basically in self-isolation, so obviously he's not going to find anywhere to live. He also lost his job because of coronavirus, so is literally just in my apartment, all day, with very little work to do.

We're having a nice time and getting on fine. We eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of red wine and have sex and I reckon this is better than being alone. However, I feel robbed of the excitement of the honeymoon period, my independence (which I treasure) and I have to try and forget about all the little niggling things that irritate me that wouldn't irritate me if we were dating normally. — Milly, 29.

“I haven't got 'the ick' yet, which is a good sign”

We went on our fourth or fifth date and then I spent the weekend at his. We had some dinner with his flatmates which was really nice, but then the next day one of his flatmates messages the guy I'm dating saying that one of his close colleagues possibly has coronavirus and that they should all self-isolate for the recommended 14 days, to be safe.

I had the option at that point to either leave and not come back or stay. We both decided I should stay. I'd been around his flatmate too, so it feels like the responsible thing to do, rather than bring it to my flat and whoever else. So we've been like this for around six days now, which is a really long time when you can't leave the house.

It hasn't been too bad so far. We work from home in separate rooms during the day and make food and watch films during the evenings. I haven't got "the ick” yet, which is a good sign, and neither of us have run out of conversation topics. I think I actually fancy him a lot more. It does feel intense but the whole situation feels intense, not just our relationship. — Lily, 24.

“I've already had a panic attack in front of him”

We've officially been together for two weeks, although have been dating for six weeks. He's now moved in for the foreseeable (because of corona and I just wanna get banged during the apocalypse, really.) It's been really good! He's older so he keeps just doing stuff like the dishes and taking the bins out and preparing sensible food. My flatmate really likes it too for the above reasons. He's brought a suitcase of clothes and that.

I think when you start a relationship you tend to spend so much time together straight away anyway, so it's not that much different to that. I've definitely found out he's very practical in ways that I'm not. I've already had a panic attack in front of him, which I would've preferred not to, but he dealt with it well – so it's made us closer? It's been very good, even though I know this is probably the opposite of what we should've done. — Gina, 26.

“There are good sides and bad sides”

Me and my boyfriend of, like, a month and a half are self-isolating together. We live in a rural-ish area near Bristol so it feels important to be together as it would feel lonely otherwise. Especially as I live with another couple, so it would have been just me and them. There are good sides and bad sides, I think. The good side is that I don't have to be celibate (lol), he's a really good cook and we laugh together a lot. The bad side is that we don't get any space and that can make both us irritable. Neither of us are afraid of expressing ourselves or saying what we think, which can tip into bickering – not something I'm used to after only a few weeks. — Oli, 31.

“I wanted her to see me at my best for a bit longer”

This is the first week of self-isolating at her place after one month of dating. So far it's going okay. We haven't gotten annoyed with each other yet and it's been fun getting to know someone without any distractions, finding time for each other or worrying about when they're going to text back.

What I would say is that I wanted her to see me at my best for a bit longer. It's fun when you first start seeing someone and you get dressed up and can present them with a certain improved version of yourself, but in a self-isolating scenario you can't really do that. We're seeing each other without make up, without nice clothes. We're seeing each other at our most vulnerable, freaking out about family stuff and society in general – I've even had a cry. Maybe it will bring us closer in the long term, but at this point it's too early to tell. — Grace, 23.

“It does feel funny to have done all of this without having said, like, 'I love you'”

We've been together almost three months, but not quite. He rearranged his flat so that there's space for me to work from a little box room and brought loads of food in. Then yesterday I got pretty sick so now we're both in for 14 days. He's a real goody two shoes and wanted to go into work, but once he realised I was properly ill, he was very sweet and has been caring for me. I'm a bit worried about how he's going to cope as I think he wants something to do, but there's nothing to do!

It's weird that we basically live together now even though we aren't actually that serious? Though I guess we are now. But I'm happy to be here because I live in a studio flat, so at least I have a couple of rooms to move around in now. Also he's got so many books, so that's good? IDK, he's a sweetheart. I bought of loads of board games and I really like him so hopefully once I'm better this will be quite fun.

It does feel funny to have done all of this without having said, like, “I love you” or anything like that. We are boyfriend and girlfriend as of like two weeks ago, but I nearly spat my tea out when work emailed him back like "wishing your partner a speedy recovery”. — Leila, 28.

“We watch movies, cook or just sit and talk”

I found a boyfriend about two weeks before quarantine – we met on Tinder, then started dating. When the pandemic started I moved to his place so we could spend more time together. Now we have a lot of time to get to know each other. While he works remotely, I can develop skills I've always wanted but wouldn't do it alone at home. When I see him working, it makes me want to do the same. He's also very neat and because of him I have started folding my clothes. We watch movies, cook (both of us never did that before) or just sit and talk. I'm not worried – I see it as a huge opportunity to get to know this guy. — Marcin, 28.

@daisythejones

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.