“Where Did the Covid Couples Go?”
Some relationships thrived – while others dwindled (Picture: Gina Tonic, Aidan Milan, Robyn Munroe)
Today marks three years since Boris Johnson appeared on our TV screens and told us all to stay at home, marking the start of those infamous ‘unprecedented times’.
From stockpiling toilet roll to becoming inexplicably obsessed with banana bread, it’s fair to say we all made some interesting choices in the early days of the pandemic.
But some people took more extreme decisions than most.
As England and Wales settled into what would be two months of the first lockdown, couples were faced with a tough decision.
Either live apart, and be banned from seeing each other – effectively forcing yourself into a long distance relationship – or take the plunge to cohabit, long before either party had planned.
Twitter suddenly became alive with stories of couples choosing to speedily move in together after just one or two dates; amongst the tragedy of the global pandemic, it felt like love was blossoming under coronavirus, leading to the advent of the ‘Covid couple.’
But it’s no secret that relationships were also put under intense pressure. The number of couples who sought counselling in 2020 surged the world over, as did divorce rates.
So what happened to those couples who fast-tracked their relationships?
Manchester based writer, Gina Tonic, 29, had been seeing her boyfriend, Matt, 35, for just one month when lockdown hit. Not wanting to be apart, Matt moved into the flat Gina shared with a friend.
When we last spoke to Gina the pair were about to celebrate their first anniversary – and we’re happy to report they’re still as happy as ever.
Gina, 29, says: ‘We’re a success story. Moving in together was pretty seamless and we’ve gone from strength to strength.’
Gina and Matt met on a dating app at the end of February 2020, and quickly became inseparable.
‘We spent every day together,’ explains Gina. ‘But we hadn’t discussed the future – it was far too early for that.
‘But then lockdown happened and we both lost our jobs. We thought it would be fun to spend the time off with each other – so Matt came to stay with me. We thought it would last for about two weeks, at the most.’
Gina and Matt moved in together after less than a month of dating (Picture: Gina Tonic)
But as the weeks turned into months, the pair quickly became used to living together. ‘There was one evening when it dawned on me that if lockdown ended, Matt was going to go back to his houseshare – and I hated the idea.
‘I told him I didn’t want lockdown to end and for him to leave. He agreed, so we decided to make it official.
‘My housemate was thrilled because we were suddenly saving loads on rent too.’
Rather than raising eyebrows over their decision, Gina says that family and friends were supportive.
She explains: ‘It was such a strange time for everyone – there was no ‘normal’ way to do things. This just seemed to make sense.
‘Being together meant we were able to whether the storm of Covid together. We both lost grandparents during the pandemic, and I’m grateful I had Matt’s support during such an awful time.’
But Gina says that the couple faced challenges when restrictions began to lift. She explains: ‘As we all know, it was a long time before normal life resumed, but when it did, there was definitely an adjustment period.
‘We were so used to spending 24/7 together that we’d become a little co-dependent. I’d get jealous if he made plans with friends – a situation that had never happened before in our relationship.’
Gina credits their communication skills for getting them through this time. She explains: ‘Lockdown was such an intense time that we learnt very early on that we needed to be able to discuss our emotions and how we were coping mentally.
‘It’s meant that we’ve built a foundation of being honest and open with each other, so we’ve always been able to discuss and work through any issues.’
Now, the couple are heading off on their very first holiday next month to Florence, Italy. ‘It’s funny that we’ve been together for three years, but never had so much as a mini-break,’ laughs Gina. ‘It’s very ‘Covid couple’ of us!’
Metro Lifestyle reporter, Aidan Milan, 29, also says lockdown built a solid foundation for her and her partner, Rob, 36.
After meeting on Hinge in June 2019, things were going well, but the pair were taking it slow.
Aidan says: ‘I’d been dumped just two weeks before I met Rob, so I thought it would just be a rebound thing.
Aidan and Rob built a strong foundation in lockdown (Picture: Aidan Milan)
‘I knew he was a great guy, but I was just seeing where it went. By the time lockdown happened, we hadn’t even said “I love you,” yet.’
Aidan and Rob also assumed that lockdown would last for just a few weeks. With Aidan living in a one-bedroom apartment in south London, and Rob in a houseshare in east London, the pair decided to pack their bags and move to Wales, near to Rob’s family.
Aidan explains: ‘Rob’s mum and stepdad own a pub, which has an apartment above it.
‘I’d only met his parents once before, but it seemed like the best option. I packed a case with two weeks worth of clothes and my laptop, and off we went.
‘I’d never lived with a man before, so it was a big change. Luckily, we adjusted to living together really easily.
‘I got on really well with his mum and step-dad too. I was definitely thrown in at the deep-end, but it was pretty seamless.’
But as restrictions started to lift in the summer of 2020, the couple faced some awkward conversations.
Aidan says: ‘Pre-pandemic, I’d agreed to move in with my friend, Molly, when my lease was up.
‘I was excited to live with her and I didn’t want to go back on my promise. Rob and I also thought it would be a good chance to live apart again, and take time to make sure we weren’t rushing into anything.’
Rob went back to his flatshare, while Aidan moved in with Molly. But as the second lockdown loomed, they knew they wanted to spend it together.
Aidan says: ‘Matt moved in with me and Molly. I’m not sure it was an ideal situation for him, but I loved it!
‘He was a huge support during lockdown – I was so lucky to have that comfort and I’m not sure how I’d have coped without him.
‘It also gave us confidence in our relationship. If we can get through an apocalypse, we can survive anything.’
But not every Covid couple lived happily ever after.
Robyn Munroe, 26, is a PR exec from Cannock. She says that Covid not only fast-tracked her relationship with her ex, Tom* – but also sparked the end of it.
She explains: ‘I had started seeing Tom at the end of 2019.
‘It was very casual to begin with, and we definitely hadn’t talked about what the future might hold.
‘But when lockdown happened, he moved in with me and my parents, so we could spend it together.’
Robyn says she and her ex lived different lives in the ‘real world’ (Picture: Robyn Munroe)
But with Robyn working on the frontline in Tesco, and Tom furloughed from his marketing job, life wasn’t easy.
She says: ‘It was exciting at first – it felt like we had a whirlwind romance, and we were almost playing at being married.
‘But work was chaos, so at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was relax in some peace and quiet.
‘But Tom had been at home all day on his own – when I got back, he was almost hyperactive and wanted to chat and do things. I just didn’t have the energy.’
Lockdown also took a toll on their sex life. ‘We weren’t sleeping together,’ says Robyn. ‘We should have still been in the honeymoon phase, but we had a dry spell for four or five months.’
Their relationship rumbled on, but things got worse when Covid restrictions eased. ‘He was used to having me all to himself,’ says Robyn. ‘But I’m very sociable and wanted to go out, whereas he was introverted and shy. He was like my shadow and he’d moan if I made plans with friends.’
Finally, in September 2021, Robyn decided to call it quits. She said: ‘I think he was a bit blindsided, but it was the best thing.
‘In hindsight, I don’t think we’d have been anything more than a fling if it wasn’t for the pandemic.
‘In the real world, it would have become obvious really quickly that our personalities didn’t gel.
‘That wasn’t something we found out until much later on.’
But Robyn doesn’t regret being one of the Covid couples.
She says: ‘I’m grateful of the experience, because it’s taught me what I want and need out of a relationship. We just weren’t right for each other.’
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