We matched on Bumble on March 30. The next day, we video chatted. The next week, we had our first date, drinking cans of White Claw at a safe social distance in the park. And then, four days after that, he moved in.
Let me be clear: This is not my normal dating timeline. And I hadn’t lost all sense of reason: The living situation was always going to be temporary. I wasn’t even looking for a new relationship (though I did start swiping because it couldn’t hurt to line up some dates when isolation ended). But Rob caught my eye because our profiles featured almost identical photos, each of us dressed in traditional German garb, cheersing with giant beer steins in Munich. “Can make a great risotto and sourdough bread,” his profile said. He was also cute.
We’d text all day and video chat for hours each night. He got my sarcastic sense of humour right off the top—no need to put a winky face after every comment—and made me laugh my head off. He was articulate and curious about the world, had a terrific voice, and was so engaged. He didn’t play mind games; I didn’t stress about texting too much.
On the third day, I lamented our inability to get together in person. “The only option for potential dates is to live together for at least two weeks,” he typed. Funny, I thought. He kept joking about it, and I kept laughing it off, until I began to wonder whether he was serious—but I didn’t dare ask. It was like we were playing a game of relationship chicken.
Then the park date happened, and as he unlocked his bike to head home, I wanted to kiss him. Badly. But that was against the rules, and the rules didn’t seem to be going away any time soon. I worried they were going to screw up my shot with this guy. How long could video calls sustain the spark? That night, when he asked, “So when am I coming over?” I replied, “How’s Saturday?”
Yes, I knew it was crazy, but was it really so different than inviting any new man home? In the grand scheme of things, it really didn’t seem so risky to me: I’d met him; he seemed perfectly normal; if worst came to worst, I’d just kick him out.
Living together has been a weird mix of that shiny, exciting honeymoon phase and the isolation doldrums everyone is experiencing. Our relationship timeline was also instantly thrust forward about six months: We wear athleisure almost exclusively. Our “dates” are to the grocery store. Most evenings, it’s Netflix or card games, and at night, he puts in his mouth guard and I put in my earplugs. Why waste time with any airs when it feels like the world is ending?
With each day, of course, the sheen wears off slightly. He loves to tease me but sometimes goes two cracks too far. It drives him crazy if I don’t tidy the kitchen before bed. But that’s all minor stuff. Mostly, the biggest challenge has been finding balance, which tends to happen at the start of any new relationship, pandemic or no. I want to hug him as he preps his sourdough bread. I want to laugh at our in-jokes and make new ones. I want to enjoy every second of this happiness because I know it isn’t forever.
In fact, Rob just got the call to return to work. His hours are incompatible with mine, which means he’s heading home. When he does, will our four-week-long relationship move backwards? We want to keep seeing each other, but I don’t know how that will work. I worry that I’ll become just another face on a screen. I worry we won’t recapture the excitement of it all.
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Maureen Halushak, editor-in-chief, Chatelaine