Covid-19’s impact on relationships has seemed pretty dismal.
The number of couples who have sought counselling this past year has surged the world over, as have divorce rates.
When the UK’s first lockdown began on 16 March 2020, few of us could have predicted the varied and often-harrowing effects of the pandemic on everything from the economy, to our mental health, to the health statuses of our loved ones, to our jobs, to our romantic relationships.
But has coronavirus ‘killed love’ completely?
Of course not. Amid the doom and gloom, life under coronavirus has strengthened bonds and led to the advent of the ‘lockdown couple’; new couples who made the choice to speedily move in together to avoid being separated or split up by the first quarantine.
We checked in with lockdown couples nearly a year on to see how things are going.
Manchester-based journalist Gina Tonic and her partner Matthew had been together for just over a month when the first lockdown hit. Prior to the announcement, cohabitation hadn’t been something they’d discussed.
‘Three weeks after that lockdown started, I told Matthew to move in for it — not really considering it would last that long,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Then a month into lockdown, I looked at him and said, “I don’t want lockdown to end and you don’t live here”. So he handed in the notice for his old house and moved in officially then.’
On average, Millennial and Zoomer couples are waiting longer to move in together, get engaged, or to get married than previous generations. With that shift often comes the notion that quick-commitment is generally an impulsive, altogether bad idea.
For Gina and Matthew, however, it’s been the best choice they could’ve made.
‘It’s just been really supportive and sweet,’ Gina explains. ‘We work together well as a couple and it’s been boosted by living together for both of our mental health and even financially — splitting our rent and bills has made a massive impact on surviving lockdowns without work coming in.
‘Matthew’s a barber so he’s been unable to work for the majority of the past year and I freelance, so it can be up or down.
‘Most importantly has been how much he supports me mentally. Without him, I definitely would have had a breakdown of some sort.
‘Even just having someone do the laundry because you hate doing it can sound like a silly little change but it’s revolutionary for my focus and wellbeing.’
Matthew agrees wholeheartedly, telling us: ‘It sounds corny, but it just felt right for the both of us.
‘Life isn’t always planned out and when I started to date Gina, I just knew that things were falling into the right places.
‘For any new couple, it’s vital to just put yourself out there and be how you really are.’
Gina does note that there’s a fair amount of humour to be expected after such a quick move-in. ‘It’s funny because we know so much about each other, but then something obvious that would have come up on say, regular world date six, I have no idea about,’ she says.
‘I only just found out this week Matthew had cats and hamsters as a kid, for example. But if we’d gotten to know each other in regular dating circumstances of asking those kinds of questions over food and drinks, I’m sure I would have known that ages ago.’
For Yorkshire-based beauty therapist Caris Parr, who had been dating her partner for nine months before lockdown, things have been similarly sweet.
‘If you’d asked me before, I’d have said, “No way would I move in with someone so quick”,’ she tells us. ‘But I just feel like when you know something is right, it just feels right.’
The choice to move in together wasn’t easy. Caris has a little boy to consider as well, and it would be the first time she moved a partner in with the two of them.
‘Covid has put so much pressure on everything that we didn’t want it to put pressure on our relationship too,’ she explains. ‘At the same time, it had put all our lives on hold and we didn’t want it to keep us from moving forward.’
Things aren’t always easy, of course.
‘The biggest pressure has been money,’ Caris says. ‘I’m self-employed and I’m not eligible for any grants, so it currently all falls on my partner. He really feels the pressure of it all. I also don’t like relying on him as I’ve always been able to provide for myself and my son so it’s been a big change.’
Even so, Caris has no regrets.
She says: ‘I honestly wake up every day feeling so thankful that he came into my life and that if we can get through this we can get through anything. We are a team. Not just me and him, but all three of us.’
For couples considering doing the same, Caris does note that ‘it’s important to make time for yourselves as individuals, but also set aside time as a couple (that doesn’t include doing something to the house or cleaning).’
Leicester-based Hayley Alanenor Taylor is also optimistic about her lockdown couple status. Although she and her partner had known each other for 11 months before restrictions began, they only saw each other for a few hours at a time, three or four days per week.
‘I think it was initially challenging for both of us, mainly due to the financial instability caused by the pandemic and from seeing each other for a few hours at a time to spending 24 hours a day together,’ she tells us.
‘I feel that we got to know each other in such an intense make-or-break situation and now have built a wonderful, strong relationship. Living together has genuinely made the lockdown much easier to handle.
‘We didn’t really know if it was the right thing, but how can you ever be 100% sure it will work out?’
‘We love each other and are dedicated to making each other happy.
‘I would tell couples contemplating the same thing to do it, if they have the means and can’t imagine not seeing the other throughout lockdown.”
Ultimately, the question of whether or not to move in together is a wholly personal one that every couple will have to make for themselves, particularly as we approach the one-year anniversary of lockdown with no solid end in sight.
However, it’s worth remembering that, for some couples, the choice to simply go for it — impulsive or otherwise — has made these last 10 months a whole lot more bearable.
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