Amid the sourdough starters, banana breads and PE with Joe workouts, lockdown has seen love blossom.
Despite the crushing isolation and stagnant social environment most of us found ourselves living with, new relationships escalated, Tinder dates turned into serious situations and broken hearts miraculously mended. You probably have a mate who met a bloke on Bumble in January and is now discussing potential dog names after being holed up together for four months.
But why is that? Why should such a distressing time have led to solid relationships rather than, say, an increase in breakups?
According to research by the relationships charity Relate and dating website Eharmony, lockdown has led to a wave of ‘turbo relationships’, in which relatively young relationships now feel like umpteen years of marriage.
In study of over 2,000 British adults, 58% said they now knew that they wanted to be with their partner forever after living together during lockdown and a similar number felt more committed in their relationship after weathering the pandemic storm together.
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Nurse Allie met her partner on Tinder in December and at the start of lockdown, decided to move in with him.
‘Now we’re basically a married couple,’ she says.
‘I think we kind of knew it was going to work early on but lockdown was almost a test to confirm that. It definitely made things more serious and made us into a more “real couple” than if we’d just seen each other a few times a week as we did before.’
Sam, on the other hand, matched with his girlfriend on the app at the start of February and had to wait lockdown out to be reunited. They’ve now moved in with each other.
‘We matched in February and then boom, lockdown happened,’ he tells Metro.co.uk. ‘I moved back in with my parents the day after we met up for the first time and spent eight weeks on FaceTime.’
He says: ‘Lockdown has been a full-on blessing for me, sad as that sounds’.
‘You know that your relationship can survive if you spent three months of it on the phone and the only alone time was one walk in the countryside.’
So what happens now? Lockdown is ending and life is slowly returning back to normal. Doesn’t that pose new challenges for a relationship defined by the ‘unprecidented times’ it was founded in?
‘There was definitely a wobble moment when we were like, “what happened to our honeymoon period? Are we ever going to have one or have we just skipped straight into an intense relationship?”,’ Sam explains.
‘But if I’m honest, I struggled enough with somethings during lockdown and without my girlfriend, I genuinely don’t know how I could have got through it. Lockdown definitely intensified things but we’ve weathered the storm and managed to level out.
‘The moment we could see each other, I came straight back home to spend as much time with her properly as a couple out of lockdown as I could.’
And then, of course, there are the pre-existing relationships that lockdowns pushed to the next level.
Suzie has been with her partner since April 2019. On 22 March 2020, the day before lockdown began, they got engaged.
‘We got engaged in hope of marrying that week,’ says Suzie. ‘We knew we wanted to marry each other and were nervous about what was ahead so wanted to make it official in case anything bad happened!
‘Of course, all weddings were cancelled so that didn’t happen. We’re now booked to get married on 11 December at Chelsea Town Hall (the day before Sebastian’s 50th birthday!).’
We asked Match’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn, how lockdown had impacted on new relationships and she explained that one of the biggest changes Covid-19 had presented was the need to have ’emotionally intimate’ conversations super early on.
‘In order to stay safe, people have had to have candid conversations about their health that may usually be brushed aside,’ Hayley explains. ‘Likewise, asking to be in one another’s social bubble has become the new stepping stone towards “going steady” – and that implies a gear shift in the significance of the relationship.’
Such has been the rush to move forward that one wonders what might become of these relationships once society returns to normal. Just how real or stable can these turbo romances be?
While Hayley admits that for some, getting into serious situations will have been their way of finding a distraction, she’s more prone to believing that these relationships may be the real deal.
‘I’d argue that our circumstances, in terms of commitment, haven’t really changed,’ she says. ‘There will always be some people out there who are looking for fair weather relationships, and others who are looking for something longer term.
‘The best advice here is to be candid about what you’re looking for and to avoid reaching out to old flames for a distraction.
‘That being said, recent research from Match has shown that over half of singles are more committed to finding a relationship due to Covid-19 as the virus has caused people to reflect on what is really important to them.’
If you want to work towards a committed, stable relationship, Hayley says that you want to move away from the word ‘intense’.
She tells us: ‘While it can be very flattering and exhilarating going headfirst into a romance, there’s some truth in the phrase “the flame that burns twice as strong burns half as long”.
‘If you’re looking for a real relationship, prioritise the slow build; get to know one another on video dates, and daytime dates (think walks in the park, and ice cream) and take your time evaluating your connection. Shift your focus from looking for immediate excitement to growing a connection if you want to build a lasting relationship.’
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. We know that lockdown saw a rise in domestic violence. Unhappy relationships have been strained to breaking point because of the lack of physical distance. There must have been plenty of couples who found themselves weighing up the pros and cons of moving into together at the start of their relationship – well before they were ready to take that step.
But back in June, Eharmony relationship expert Rachael Lloyd said that while the pandemic had ‘seriously tested’ relationships, many new couples were coping well.
‘What’s really interesting is the creation of so-called turbo relationships whereby couples who’d never usually move at such speed may have found themselves living together within weeks of meeting – and largely thriving,’ she notes.
So how can couples ensure that they carry on being just as strong after we get back to ‘normal’?
‘There’s never any guarantee that a relationship will carry on (coronavirus, or no coronavirus!) as this always requires the ongoing commitment to work on it from both parties,’ Hayley says.
‘However, you can do your best to create the right foundations for it by making sure you take time getting to know someone. Go for normal day dates over last-minute meetings and be open about what you’re looking for in the long run.’
For Sam, this post-lockdown period has given him and his girlfriend a chance to experience life as an ‘actual couple’ – including moving in together.
‘She decided that she wanted to move to London and we agreed that it was a waste of time having two flats. Then we decided to visit Ikea for a day off and honestly, it was the best day ever. I’ve never felt more comfortable and I’ve never considered a day at Ikea with anyone before.’
And that’s when you know you’ve bagged The One.
Dating terms and trends, defined
Blue-stalling: When two people are dating and acting like a couple, but one person in the partnership states they’re unready for any sort of label or commitment (despite acting in a different manner).
Breadcrumbing: Leaving ‘breadcrumbs’ of interest – random noncommittal messages and notifications that seem to lead on forever, but don’t actually end up taking you anywhere worthwhile Breadcrumbing is all about piquing someone’s interest without the payoff of a date or a relationship.
Caspering: Being a friendly ghost – meaning yes, you ghost, but you offer an explanation beforehand. Caspering is all about being a nice human being with common decency. A novel idea.
Catfish: Someone who uses a fake identity to lure dates online.
Clearing: Clearing season happens in January. It’s when we’re so miserable thanks to Christmas being over, the cold weather, and general seasonal dreariness, that we will hook up with anyone just so we don’t feel completely unattractive. You might bang an ex, or give that creepy guy who you don’t really fancy a chance, or put up with truly awful sex just so you can feel human touch. It’s a tough time. Stay strong.
Cloutlighting: Cloutlighting is the combo of gaslighting and chasing social media clout. Someone will bait the person they’re dating on camera with the intention of getting them upset or angry, or making them look stupid, then share the video for everyone to laugh at.
Cockfishing: Also known as catcocking. When someone sending dick pics uses photo editing software or other methods to change the look of their penis, usually making it look bigger than it really is.
Cuffing season: The chilly autumn and winter months when you are struck by a desire to be coupled up, or cuffed.
Firedooring: Being firedoored is when the access is entirely on one side, so you’re always waiting for them to call or text and your efforts are shot down.
Fishing: When someone will send out messages to a bunch of people to see who’d be interested in hooking up, wait to see who responds, then take their pick of who they want to get with. It’s called fishing because the fisher loads up on bait, waits for one fish to bite, then ignores all the others.
Flashpanner: Someone who’s addicted to that warm, fuzzy, and exciting start bit of a relationship, but can’t handle the hard bits that might come after – such as having to make a firm commitment, or meeting their parents, or posting an Instagram photo with them captioned as ‘this one’.
Freckling: Freckling is when someone pops into your dating life when the weather’s nice… and then vanishes once it’s a little chillier.
Gatsbying: To post a video, picture or selfie to public social media purely for a love interest to see it.
Ghosting: Cutting off all communication without explanation.
Grande-ing: Being grateful, rather than resentful, for your exes, just like Ariana Grande.
Hatfishing: When someone who looks better when wearing a hat has pics on their dating profile that exclusively show them wearing hats.
Kittenfishing: Using images that are of you, but are flattering to a point that it might be deceptive. So using really old or heavily edited photos, for example. Kittenfishes can also wildly exaggerate their height, age, interests, or accomplishments.
Lovebombing: Showering someone with attention, gifts, gestures of affection, and promises for your future relationship, only to distract them from your not-so-great bits. In extreme cases this can form the basis for an abusive relationship.
Microcheating: Cheating without physically crossing the line. So stuff like emotional cheating, sexting, confiding in someone other than your partner, that sort of thing.
Mountaineering: Reaching for people who might be out of your league, or reaching for the absolute top of the mountain.
Obligaswiping: The act of endlessly swiping on dating apps and flirt-chatting away with no legitimate intention of meeting up, so you can tell yourself you’re doing *something* to put yourself out there.
Orbiting: The act of watching someone’s Instagram stories or liking their tweets or generally staying in their ‘orbit’ after a breakup.
Paperclipping: When someone sporadically pops up to remind you of their existence, to prevent you from ever fully moving on.
Preating: Pre-cheating – laying the groundwork and putting out feelers for cheating, by sending flirty messages or getting closer to a work crush.
Prowling: Going hot and cold when it comes to expressing romantic interest.
R-bombing: Not responding to your messages but reading them all, so you see the ‘delivered’ and ‘read’ signs and feel like throwing your phone across the room.
Scroogeing: Dumping someone right before Christmas so you don’t have to buy them a present.
Shadowing: Posing with a hot friend in all your dating app photos, knowing people will assume you’re the attractive one and will be too polite to ask.
Shaveducking: Feeling deeply confused over whether you’re really attracted to a person or if they just have great facial hair.
Sneating:When you go on dates just for a free meal.
Stashing: The act of hiding someone you’re dating from your friends, family, and social media.
Submarineing: When someone ghosts, then suddenly returns and acts like nothing happened.
V-lationshipping:When someone you used to date reappears just around Valentine’s Day, usually out of loneliness and desperation.
You-turning: Falling head over heels for someone, only to suddenly change your mind and dip.
Zombieing: Ghosting then returning from the dead. Different from submarineing because at least a zombie will acknowledge their distance.
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