When lockdown was announced in the UK in March, a whole bunch of people who had just started dating someone had to ask themselves a simple yet heavily loaded question: should I move in with this new person? As in, right now? Even though I don't know their second name or whether they do something odd and unexpected, like, idk, shit in the shower?
For a lot of those people, the answer was yes. Drunk on honeymoon love and sex endorphins, they packed a bag and moved in with whichever person they met on Hinge when they were bored and horny in February. Early on, we spoke to some of those people, many of whom seemed enthusiastic about their nightly wine, cheese and shagging and the fact they'd already said “I love you” after six weeks.
But three months is a long time to be stuck inside with anyone, let alone a lover you barely know. What if, a few weeks in, you're suddenly and inexplicably repulsed by everything they do? What if, after a few weeks, you discover that they have seen OneRepublic seven times in concert? What if they turn around and tell you that sorry, haha, they're still in love with their ex?
Now that lockdown is easing up, we spoke to a few people who chose to enter lockdown with someone they'd just started dating. Mainly to ask: how did it pan out?
“WE SAID 'I LOVE YOU ABOUT TWO WEEKS INTO LOCKDOWN”
It was a classic: our mutual friend set up the only two gay girls that she knew on a date, which was around New Year's Eve. We dated for about a month then she pissed off on holiday for three weeks, landed back and lockdown happened about two weeks after that.
It all started getting quite real quite quickly in London – one day my housemates all said they were leaving to go back home, and hers did the same, so we had the choice of staying in our flats alone or moving in together. I think neither of us wanted to ask the other, but then she said I should come over for the duration of the apocalypse, so I packed my case and moved in.
It is obviously quite 0 to 100 going into lockdown together. We were both working from home full time which helped, although her job is much more demanding than mine. I learnt she is the kind of person who uses the phrase “ping me over a message” unironically, and she's learnt that I cry about three times a week and get angry when hungry, but we have yet to have our first argument.
We said “I love you” about two weeks into lockdown, and it's been getting better since then. We obviously had to get comfortable around each other really quickly, and I definitely feel like going through something like this together is a real make or break situation. Since all our housemates wanted to come back, we decided to move out into our own place and it's great. We've been together less than six months, but there's nobody I'd have rather spent the apocalypse with, even if she does eat pizza with a knife and fork. — Katie, 27
“I'M NOT SURE WHEN I STARTED GETTING DOUBTS. MAYBE A MONTH IN?”
I'd been on some really bad dates, and then in February I met this guy that was really sweet and open and seemed to have his shit together emotionally, so we started seeing each other. When lockdown was announced, we both agreed that I'd stay at his. All my flatmates had left, so I figured: if it goes badly, I can just go back to mine? I wouldn't be breaking any rules. And I didn't want to be alone.
I'm not sure when I started getting doubts. Maybe a month in? I started to feel like we were more like close friends than a fresh couple. It just wasn't a case of us constantly wanting to rip our clothes off and sex is important to me. If it's like that after a couple of months... how it's going to be after a couple of years? Without sounding cheesy, I realised I wasn't sure if it "felt right" and then that feeling grew.
He was understanding when I spoke to him about how I was feeling and decided to go back to mine. He didn't put up much of a fight and we still message and stuff. It was friendly. I've actually really enjoyed being alone in my place ever since, which came as a surprise. I'm dating myself right now. — Bella, 28
“IT WAS PRETTY STRESSFUL AT FIRST”
I'd been going out with Ash, my girlfriend, for a month? Maybe two. She's immunocompromised, so she can't go outside, so I ended up staying here because I didn't want to leave her alone in her flat. And it felt like it was going somewhere. I've since moved out of my flat.
It was pretty stressful at first. For a while, we had Ash's friend over to stay. It was hard because it meant there wasn't much time or space, which can be difficult for having a relationship or intimacy. Especially if you're self-conscious. I'm trans, so for me personally there's a lot of anxiety surrounding intimacy and stuff. A lot of cis people aren't nice! So it's really hard to gauge what kind of reaction you'll have.
Ash is Black and autistic, so there's a lot of trauma between us. But it's easier to talk about that [during lockdown]. I left my flat three days ago and I'm going to be Ash's carer as well. A lot of people I know who have been in three-year relationships have broken up with their partners; you make commitments without knowing the practical implications of those commitments. So this has been practice. — Gabriella, 28
“I SAID: LISTEN, MY CURRENT LIFESTYLE ISN'T FITTING INTO THIS LIFESTYLE”
Moving in after three weeks or something was a lot, although there were elements of it I enjoyed. We had sex a lot and it was dreamy waking up to this gorgeous man every morning. But it started to not work for me personally because, while him and his flatmates had been furloughed from their jobs, I still had a relatively high pressure job where I had to be on meetings etc constantly and sometimes work late or early. And while I was trying to get on with this stuff, they were drinking and partying in the house and that became an issue.
Then in April I said: listen, my current lifestyle isn't fitting into this lifestyle. It wasn't a break-up, and we've spent time together since and I'm actually going to his place later. But it was the living together part that was too much. I'm not a massively social person, so to have to be around four other strangers every night and listen to loud music was unsettling. I think if we were to ever live together properly, it would need to be our own flat! — Jesse, 24
“I AM APPARENTLY A VERY NEEDY LADY, BUT HE MAKES BEING NEEDY OKAY”
Since I last spoke to you, we've only grown stronger and more close and he's moved in officially and we've got a kitten together. I definitely think he's taught me that it's okay to have someone to lean on and it was something I was missing so much while being single for three years. He's a doer and I'm a thinker, so we're a good team. Like, I will buy a cupboard from Argos and he will put it together.
It's made me stronger because I've never had a live-in partner and we'd been dating three weeks when he moved in. I just feel it's let me find my strength in my ideas and intuition because there's someone else to sweat the easy stuff now. He's a person who loves being needed and doing all the little bits. That's what I've always needed because I am, apparently, a very needy lady, but he makes being needy okay in a way I've never felt before – so we're a perfect fit. — Gina, 26
“WE REALLY ENJOYED LIVING TOGETHER, WE HARDLY ARGUED”
We had been friends for a really long time before we got together. We officially became a couple in early February. We had been staying together the night before he was told he needed to self-isolate for a week because he had a cough. So I packed and went to stay for the week. The Monday we were supposed to come out of quarantine was when lockdown began, so I ended up just staying there for 14 weeks.
Living together we learned a lot about each other. I learned that he shakes his head when he brushes his teeth instead of moving the brush haha, and he learned that I can’t share towels with another person. We realised that he’s better at cooking and I’m better at general chores so we ended up falling into a routine that he would cook and I would do the dishes.
I eventually moved out about a week ago as his flatmate is high risk and I was asked to go back to work, so we thought it would be best for me to move back into my flat so I could work and earn money and keep everyone safe.
We really enjoyed living together, we hardly argued and only bickered over little things like putting the empty toilet roll in the bin or someone eating the last biscuit. It’s definitely sped things up in terms of how close we are and we are thinking about the logistics of possibly moving in together at some point. It’s made me happy knowing that we can live together pretty harmoniously and it was good to have someone there when the world is in such disarray — Ellen, 21