I moved in with the guy I was dating during lockdown – and it didn’t work out
If you could step into a time machine and journey back to the morning of 8 February, you’d find me stumbling around, a little worse for wear.
Reeling after a night out, I’d soon meet a perfect stranger who would change everything.
At the time we met, I was a mess and had sworn off dating after a disastrous relationship that I had been in for almost two years. I had felt unwanted and disrespected, and needed time to recover and recentre my self-esteem.
He, on the other hand, was deep into single life, maximising his free time and enjoyed flittering between worlds.
As the haziness of the night before continued to linger, I soon found my way to the apartment I’d been invited to, where I’d spend one of the best days of my life.
We started dating intensely following that fateful day that was full of firsts, from kisses to, well, everything else.
We spent the night together, had one night apart, and then I found myself on a train to Leeds (where he was studying at the time) to spend the entire week cementing a partnership.
He dragged me around museums, and in the next few weeks between burger bars and takeaways after messy nights – I fell in love.
By the time lockdown was announced, we were in adoration of each other. We’d already hit so many milestones and created some intimate traditions, from cooking and showering together, to waking up in each others’ vomit after getting a little too drunk.
At the beginning of March, he suggested that we ‘isolate here for two weeks, while it blows over’ as things started to look a little murky.
There was no doubt in my mind that this was the right move – I was so excited. It was a bold decision on both our parts to quarantine with someone we’d known for just over a month, but it felt right.
We settled into domestic life quite well, both using the downtime as a reset button on our lives.
He managed to dedicate much-needed time to catch up on his university work, while I dove into passions I’d been neglecting, such as writing and my fitness.
Daily 5Ks kept me sane and energised while giving us space from each other – and it didn’t hurt that I’d come home sweaty and raring for some other physical activity, too.
Every day was a blessing, from the morning cappuccinos to games of ping pong downstairs in the lounge.
Unfortunately, after a month-long stint at his mum’s home together, it became apparent that what we’d cultivated so carefully, was slowly wilting with each passing day
In contrast to my previous relationship, I felt empowered with our dynamic.
We respected each others’ personal space, and encouraged time apart for an hour or so here and there. But in that time, we’d still be texting saying how much we missed each other. To be with somebody who encouraged me to focus on my own goals fuelled my creativity like never before.
Those blissful two weeks in that same apartment soon turned into four months. If you spend four months with anyone, you’re bound to have complications.
We were fiery, and we fought – but we also play-fought. For a week or so, we played a game that involved tying the others’ wrists and ankles to a chair with socks, and leaving them in a darkened room to ‘escape’. That was by far one of the most thrilling.
Towards the end of lockdown, we were even surer of each other, formulating a plan to take on the world if, and when, it began to reopen.
We assumed that since we’d thrived in such close quarters, that getting an apartment in Brighton – where I’d been living, pre-lockdown – would be a logical next step. We debated over two bedrooms but decided on one, as we knew we’d be laying our heads next to each other anyway.
We figured we’d both find jobs, and take on the outside world as strong as we’d tackled lockdown.
Unfortunately, after a month-long stint at his mum’s home together, it became apparent that what we’d cultivated so carefully, was slowly wilting with each passing day.
While we thrived together during lockdown, emerging back into the real world as boyfriends was a difficult transition. We had to choose whether to revert to our previous selves, or stay as the people that we’d become.
Having changed so much over the past few months, I was happy to focus on the life that I had nurtured during lockdown. He, however, had a harder time incorporating a relationship into his previous life, which was a large factor in our agreement to call time.
No matter how hard I desperately tried to fix it – which included a ‘make or break’ stint away to my hometown of York for one last slice of lockdown-era ‘us time’ – one major complication stood in the way.
Monogamy was a large variance between the both of us, but with five years of age difference between us, I understood that he didn’t want to settle down just yet.
As friends, we had one final break-up dinner, which cemented our outlook as the same – we had a wonderful time, which neither of us will forget, but tying each other to a leash of responsibility would not work for either of us.
We simmered the physical elements of our relationship step-by-step as we battled between desire and logic. We slept together a handful of times after the break-up and found a balance between still showing the affection we share for each other without confusing or misleading the other.
Now, we greet with soft smiles, and are always there to give each other a reassuring hand squeeze.
We regularly meet for coffee, or dinner, and ensure that our time spent together is truly in our own little bubble, just like lockdown was. We take care to not talk too much about our separate personal lives, and instead focus on career progression or our newfound life amidst a global pandemic.
I truly believe I was destined to meet him. He constantly reminded me that lockdown was an opportunity to revaluate my life and make it the best it can possibly be.
He helped me have a better grasp on my anxiety, having gained an understanding that most of the battle is within myself, and now feel confident in myself that I can face adversity.
There’s no un-breaking the connection I have to the man who showed me my full potential, nor do I have any will to.
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