What It’s Like to Fall in Love During a Pandemic

Drastic times call for drastic measures—like diving headlong into a new relationship.

fall in love

Illustration by Trina Dalziel

When Covid-19 made its way to New Jersey in mid-March, I was several weeks into dating a new guy. I met Hayden on a dating app, and we had only been on a handful of dates in Jersey City (where I live) and Brooklyn (where he lives). Then came the lockdown. Suddenly, we were faced with an ultimatum: Would we shelter in place together, or separately?

“I guess quarantine is a great time to find out if you’re compatible or not,” Hayden joked. He had a point, but I was worried. Not seeing each other for an indefinite period of time might abruptly end what seemed like a really good thing. But would spending all our time together during a pandemic turn out to be a disaster?

Having lived alone for the past seven years, I am unaccustomed to having a roommate, let alone sharing my space with a romantic partner. Still, these are different times. 

We dove right in. Within 24 hours, the relationship went from third date to unofficially living together. My friends told me I was absolutely nuts; I secretly shared their concern.

Six weeks later, Hayden and I have adjusted to our new way of life. It was unusual, figuring out cohabitation while also navigating a new relationship. But so far, so good. We started working from home in tandem, Hayden at his desktop computer, me on my laptop at a folding table he set up in his room. (I eventually moved my “office” to his absent roommate’s room.) Every weekday, we pause for lunch together. At the end of the workday, we migrate downstairs to make dinner, moving around the kitchen in sync. Hayden almost always does the dishes, even if he’s also done most of the cooking.  

We’ve nurtured our relationship without the usual date options: no meeting up with friends at bars, no going out for dinner, no shows or concerts. With the outside world closed, we have found entertainment elsewhere. There was a virtual double date with my friends in North Carolina. We used Zoom and FaceTime to meet each other’s families, states away. We use gaming apps like Houseparty and Jackbox to video chat and play games with our friends. But mostly, we spend quality time together, and our relationship has grown into something official—something serious.

When we do go out—for groceries, wine and beer—we don our masks and clutch our hand sanitizer. On weekends, we drive back to my apartment to do laundry, traversing a deserted downtown Manhattan and holding hands in the Holland Tunnel until we emerge in Jersey. 

The coronavirus pandemic has kept most people apart. For Hayden and me, it’s had the opposite effect. Life together is shockingly good. It feels normal, even though the world outside is anything but.  

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