Is locking down whilst you’re all loved-up everything it’s cracked up to be?
I, like many other students, spent the first lockdown last March back at my parents’ house. Ironically, during that time I lived closer to my long-term boyfriend than I had in the four years I’d been at UofG, but there was one small caveat: I wasn’t allowed to see him for more than a two-metre-distanced stroll in the park. We’d talked about moving in together before the pandemic, but the immediate pain of being so close but not legally able to even hold hands, let alone hug, kiss or do anything else (wink wink), only enforced how necessary it felt for us. Having now spent one lockdown apart, and another a little too together, I know that we made the right choice, but it definitely isn’t as rosy as I thought it would be when I was having existential crises and crying at Bridget Jones on loop in my childhood bedroom back in April.
It’s no secret that on and off lockdowns have been hard on couples who live together. Apparently, one law firm logged a 122% increase in divorce enquiries between July and October last year compared with the same period in 2019. Honestly, I can see why. In the grand scheme of things, I do love my boyfriend a lot, and living with him hasn’t changed that. But it’s a well-known fact that moving in together for the first time is hard enough as it is, and when you add to that a legal order to stay inside together at all times and mix with no one else ever, things are bound to get a little fraught.
When we were flat-hunting in August it felt really important to be somewhere in the West End so that I could be close to campus (that aged like milk in the tropics, didn’t it?). Of course, West End prices don’t come cheap, and since this was my first “adult” home with my partner I really wanted it to be slightly less scummy and questionably decorated than my student flats had been. Luckily, when you’re a couple living together you can get a one-bed flat and split the cost, so you can afford places that are a little nicer. I mean, you hardly need an extra room when no one can stay over, right? Wrong. When one of you is a research student who physically can’t get up in time to secure a library seat with a plug socket, and the other has a legitimate full-time job but is stuck working from home because of Miss Rona, a spare bedroom starts to look really enticing. Just get a bigger dining table we can both work from, we said. We don’t want desks cluttering up the limited free space we have, we said. Now I’m two months into a wait for a folding table to please God, please arrive before I need to do yet another Zoom meeting sprawled on the bed with my Dumbo and Stitch cuddly toys in full view of my supervisor, all because my partner has a work call at exactly the same time I have a uni one. And because he’s the “adult” with a salary-paying job and a proper desktop monitor, I’m the one who gets shunned to the bedroom. The joke’s on him though, because the bedroom gets way better sunlight and the bed is at least comfier than our dining chairs. Hah.
On a similar note, why for the love of all that is holy can our internet connection not deal with us both being on video calls at the same time? It is the year of our Lord 2021, nearly a year since Covid moved everything online, and I’m still sat there buffering because my partner has decided to jump on a last-minute call in the middle of my twice-a-month contact hour with my supervisor. Notice how he never has to deal with his connection dropping out, it’s only ever mine. Now, I’m not saying that he’s somehow privately sleeping with someone from Now Broadband to steal all of the connection we pay for, but I’m also not not saying it…
And I can hear you all shouting “but living with your partner is great because you constantly have someone to cuddle in bed!” – in a word, no. The day I realised that I would never in my life get a full bed to myself ever again I actually, ironically, had to go and have a lie down to recover from the shock. Never again do I get to spread myself edge-to-edge, or roll around to my heart’s content every night. I believe I’ll be with my partner for the rest of my life, and I don’t foresee any obvious circumstances when we won’t be living together now that we’ve taken the first plunge, so my days of sleeping around (the bed) are behind me. Maybe I’ll catch a fleeting nap with my one true love every now and then, maybe a languorous long-weekend if my partner goes away with his friends whenever travel is allowed, but never again will I have the thrill of endless days of unrestrained duvet dalliances ahead of me. I would pay good money for one dirty night alone in a hotel with another bed, one that’s all mine, but my partner wouldn’t take it well, and lockdown forbids it anyway. Alas my love, one day I’ll get you to myself again. One day.
I love my partner, I wouldn’t still be with him if I didn’t, but there’s only so much you can do stuck inside with one other person, and I think we’ve had enough “quality time” to last us the next 10 years post-Covid. He’s funny, we get on, we like the same things yadayadayada. But there is nothing to talk about anymore. Everything either of us has experienced for months, the other has also experienced. Plus, the disagreements over what to watch on Netflix are getting real tense in month two of full lockdown, seeing no one else bar the postman. Actually, we’ve both found ourselves having increasingly long conversations when the postman chaps the door. How’s it going today Andy? Nippy outside is it? How are the kids?
To all the couples who are upset they don’t live together during these lockdown times: I feel for you, I really do, but you might have dodged a bullet. For the love of God, enjoy having that bed to yourself before it’s too late.