"Casually dating during COVID-19 is like musical chairs," says Vicky, a 38-year-old creative producer from Scotland. "Whoever you've been dating at time of lockdown is the one you're stuck with."
There is no silver lining to the coronavirus outbreak. People are scared and sick and, more than anything, unsure about what's to come. And it's that exact uncertainty and desire for comfort that's making them do some pretty brash things, like finally sending that "What ARE we?" text. A few weeks into quarantine, single people everywhere are gathering the courage to finally confess their feelings. Below, ELLE.com spoke to three different women who recently took their romantic relationships to the next level, all because of our strange new reality.
"We met on Hinge, and our first date was in December. He’s really funny and goofy and appreciates the fact that I’m really independent. We were going out, meeting each other’s friends, meeting each other’s family, but there was no label.
In the last two weeks, we decided we should make it official. I think it was because of all the stressors—I also lost my grandma recently—and it made us realize we want to be together. Because it’s so new and we decided to commit, it’s really bizarre. My relationship is between us, but because of coronavirus, it’s affecting everyone.
I’m able to work from home right now, but he’s still going to work since he’s in the Air Force National Guard. I have two roommates, and they’ve expressed concern about me going to see him because he’s still going to work. I’m trying to respect my roommates, but also I want to see him, and I don’t know how long this is going to be. I’m avoiding it at this point, so right now, we’re not seeing each other. We also live in different states, and his state could decide to go on lockdown or mine could, and I don’t want to be stuck. I hadn’t dated someone in so long, and then I finally do, and I can’t see them.
But I think it’s made us stronger. We FaceTime a lot; our communication has been really good. It’s made us appreciate wanting to be with each other. With the virus happening, it was like, 'Okay, what are we doing?' Let’s commit to each other because we don’t know what the future holds. Let’s take control of something we can control and be together. It’s nice to have that support, but also I think men in general are maybe not as concerned as women are about this.
With the virus happening, it was like, “Okay, what are we doing?” Let’s commit to each other because we don’t know what the future holds.
When this is all over, I hope we can go back to normal and see each other how we were before. How long could this last, and will it affect how we feel about each other or our relationship? We’re still very new, and this has kind of interrupted the fun part of dating."
"I’d been dating a guy for about two months before the novel coronavirus came to New York City. We’d been having a blast going out to dinners and wandering around museums. We spent Friday nights at jazz clubs and Saturday afternoons strolling through Central Park. He was sweet and caring, and I found myself falling for him. But I wasn’t sure what the city’s near-total shutdown would mean for our relationship. Would I see him? Would we talk on the phone? Would things fizzle out? Or would we quarantine together? I hoped the crisis wasn’t the end for us.
After a few days, we decided to become exclusive in maybe the millennial way ever: by deleting all dating apps from our phones.
Turns out, it was just the beginning. We made plans to hang out at my apartment, and he stayed through the weekend and the next week, too. We picked up extra clothes for him at Target and stocked up on food together. We had fun watching old movies, playing cards, drinking wine, and looking at way too many quarantine memes. When my parents sent care packages of hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes, he helped me unpack them. If I got anxious about the pandemic, he rubbed my back. We put on gloves and went for long walks (staying six feet apart from people!). We spent hours talking. After a few days, we decided to become exclusive in maybe the most millennial way ever: by deleting all dating apps from our phones. 'I don’t want to date anyone else,' he told me. I didn't either. In texts and Zoom calls to my friends, he is now officially Quarantine Bae.
We've learned so much about each other being in close-quarters during quarantine, and it's deepened our feelings in a really short amount of time. Last week, he told me he loved me. I said it back—and meant it. In a way it feels like we fast-forwarded through the honeymoon period and straight into comfortable-relationship mode. We've had arguments and come up with compromises. We ask each other for advice on work problems. He's a huge comfort during this scary moment in time, and I'm grateful to have him. I never expected to get a boyfriend—or to fall in love—during isolation, but here we are."
"His mom set us up. I live in Pennsylvania and he lives in Michigan, but we're both from Ohio. When I was home this past spring, he was there, too. We met, started texting, and eventually went on a few dates.
Since then, we’ve gone through spurts of talking regularly and then not at all. But when we were in the same place, we’d see each other, go on a date. In December, we agreed to be friends, even though we liked each other. We talked for a bit after that, and then he ghosted.
We hadn’t spoken for about a month, and he texted out of the blue in early February. I was really surprised but also very annoyed and frustrated. At this point, we really hashed it out. I told him, 'I’m going to stop assuming that we’re anything other than friends.'
But on the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, we started talking more. Now, we talk on the phone every day, we text each other, we FaceTime. We got to a point where he told me, 'I want to be more than friends, but I don’t know what that looks like,' and I said the same back.
I do feel like we started talking so much because we’ve been alone more; he told me that’s initially why he reached out again. As somebody who lives by myself, and as somebody who is more extroverted, I’ve had a hard time thinking about how long I might be in this new reality. I’m worried about feeling isolated, but this makes me feel less alone.
I feel that giddy excitement you feel when you have a crush on somebody. It’s nice to feel that, instead of feeling hopeless and scared.
It's so cliché, but I do feel like the experience of living through a pandemic is really going to bring people together, and I think it has brought us together. I don’t know how long it will last, but I feel like we’re able to talk each other down a bit when we’re really freaked out. Despite all his flakiness, I feel like I trust him more now because he’s been there for me through this.
It's also really fun to have a crush or to fall in love. It's always a bright spot in anybody's life. To have that right now when things are scary, and we don't know what's happening—why would you not want that? I have that giddy excitement you feel when you have a crush on somebody. It’s nice to feel that, instead of feeling hopeless and scared."
Madison Feller Madison is a staff writer at ELLE.com, covering news, politics, and culture.