3 Couples Share Their Glorious/Hilarious Isolation Stories With Us

“We went on two dates … and then moved in together”

With billions across the globe forced to stay home, COVID-19 is changing every aspect of our relationships, from courtship to cohabitation to coitus. Here, we share three very different quarantine romances.

“We went on two dates … and then moved in together

Strict social distancing measures and a fear of the unknown led Carrie, a professional ballerina, to fast-track her relationship.

“I met Mike on Bumble in mid-February. We were supposed to have our first date on February 23, but that never happened. He put it in his calendar incorrectly. I thought he was going to come to Manhattan, where I live, from Connecticut, where he lives, and we were going to have a beautiful dinner. Instead, he was in Arizona.

I was disappointed; I was really looking forward to seeing him. He sent flowers immediately and apologised. We finally got together in person on Saturday, March 7. We had lunch, walked around, and then had dinner at Eleven Madison Park.

Dating in New York City is complicated because there’s always somebody better. There’s so much swiping and people don’t put in the effort. I was tired of repeating my story over and over: “I grew up in Upstate New York, I went to the Professional Children’s School and danced with the New York City Ballet. I was in the movie Black Swan.”

But I really liked Mike. He talked to me, he listened to me and he treated me super well. He’s just very chill.

A few days later, I visited him at his apartment in Connecticut only to find out that, coincidentally, one of my closest friends lives two doors down from him. We spent a fun day together, and then I went back to Manhattan.

The following day, while watching the news in my apartment, I got more and more freaked out about COVID-19. My father’s a dentist who raised me to open doors with paper towels to avoid germs and not touch gas pumps. But it really hit me that day just how unsafe the city was becoming.

I was talking to Mike on the phone, and told him how weirded out I was. He invited me to pack up my stuff and move into his downstairs bedroom. I sat on it for a little bit; I wasn’t sure that was the right thing to do. But as the news progressed I decided it was time to get out of town for a while. I fled
with Jack, my Bengal cat, and two weeks’ worth of clothing. I arrived at Mike’s place at 11pm on Thursday, March 12. He was already asleep.

So far, it’s been great. Mike has the upstairs, I have the downstairs, and we kind of meet in the living area. When I first got here, he was going to his office during the day, so I could do my ballet and yoga in the middle area. Now that he’s working from home, I’ll go downstairs so he can be alone. We’re not in each other’s hair constantly.

One thing I don’t do is cook. I was on the Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America, so I’m not kidding. But I make amazing salads. Mike cooked dinner last week; he made salmon and I made the salad. I’m also doing the dishes and cleaning.

But we’re still courting each other and not just falling into traditional expectations. It’s nice having separate bedrooms; there’s still the romance. I do my lady things and he does his manly things, and then we meet up.

I think we complement each other. I need to be active – I’m like a cocker spaniel. He’s more laid-back. He set me up on the Peloton bike so I can burn some energy. It’s been really comfortable and nice to have someone.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with this relationship. I’ve never been married, but I was engaged for eight years when I lived in Los Angeles. I don’t want to make that mistake again of staying in the wrong situation for so long.

It’s definitely cart before the horse, but it’s working right now. If quarantine goes on for months? Well, I’m taking it a day at a time. There are multiple contingency plans in place. I have a car and my friend next door.

The other day Mike said to me, “I looked in the grocery store for flowers for you,” and I said, “That’s OK, you got me toilet paper!” Priorities are different in times like this.”

As told to Abby Ellin.

coronavirus lockdown relationships

“I didn’t realise that my husband working from home didn’t mean sex breaks”

Writer and postpartum doula Naomi Chrisoulakis used  to dream of spending more time together “as a family” … until she found herself holed up with her husband and toddler, while also heavily pregnant.

“Are you enjoying all this time we’re spending together?” my husband asks me from his “office” (actually a corner of our kitchen/dining room in our Sydney home, where his three monitors sit next to the cat bowl). I consider his question. Is he talking about the quality time I’m spending making 17 snacks a day for him and our three-year-old daughter? Or the way even though he no longer has a commute, he only wanders into the kitchen to a meal on the table at the same time he used to walk through the door? Maybe he’s thinking of how, as well as snack bitch, I’ve also been promoted to early childhood teacher five days a week, complete with Steiner-style daily rhythms, homemade playdough and baking with a very messy assistant chef. Or perhaps he’s confusing confinement with the babymoon – a break in Tokyo, sans preschooler – that we’d been hoping to take around now. If I really set my mind to it, opening the dishwasher might feel like being in an onsen, right?

If I sound bitter, it’s only because I’ve wondered many times during the weeks my little family has been “self-isolating” together, whether this is all a cosmic joke. “I just wish I had more time to do all these lovely projects with Margot,” I’d thought pre-Corona, as I raced between work, appointments, preschool pickups and grocery runs. “We’d plant a vegie patch, and make scones! We’d do nature walks and learn about the planets!” I’d even moved beyond fantasy to full-blown nagging Michael to negotiate work-from-home days, so we could “spend more time together as a family”.

Well, apologies to my past self, but I did not sign up for this shit. I didn’t realise that after the scones and the bloody nature walks, I’d be desperate to have a break from all the Mary Poppins-ing. I didn’t realise that Michael working from home didn’t mean sex breaks, but did mean listening to him fart at the *exact* moment I’m wondering why I’m the one who always has to sort out lunch. I didn’t realise that it meant he’d completely eschew hair product, and I’d completely eschew any desire for him as a result. Me going bra-less might work for him, but apparently I’m only one pot of sculpting wax away from divorce.

The thing is, we’re not really spending that much time together, together. We’re tag teaming on parenting: when he’s on a work call, I’m shushing Margot in another room. He takes over full-time parenting after dinner, while I’m collapsed on the couch and the baby does cardio kickboxing in my belly. Watching Tiger King while he rubs my feet is about as romantic as it’s getting at the moment.

And yet whether it’s because disease and death feel like they’re at our doorstep, or the way he pauses work to plant a kiss on my cheek, I feel more connected to him than ever. The other night, as we chatted lazily on the couch about what we’d do when his contract finished, with no sign of another on the horizon, I sneezed and my pelvic floor decided to quit its post. It was the straw that broke this snack bitch’s back: I sobbed. Nothing, nothing was how it was meant to be. This was not the way I had planned pregnancy to be. This wasn’t the world, singed by bushfires and plagued by a virus, that I wanted to birth our son into. Everything felt broken, including me. “It’s hard, I know,” Michael said, pulling me into a hug. “But we’re in this together.”

So I look over at him sitting in that corner of our home, ever calm and doing his best to show up for everyone. “Yes, I am enjoying all this time we’re spending together,” I answer him. And in a weird way, I mean it.”

coronavirus lockdown relationships

“I’m bunkering down with my girlfriend … and her other boyfriend”

Billy Procida, stand-up comedian and podcast host, is navigating his first polyamorous relationship amid the shutdown. So is three a crowd?

“I don’t know Kyle* too well. Before Day 12 of quarantining in his home, we’d shared two conversations. And I was drunk for one of them. 

Yet somehow, he’d been attentive enough to learn my McDonald’s order and preference for Coke Zero (“Sorry, man. They only had Diet Coke”). I don’t even have the guy’s phone number. But here I was, watching Master and Commander and hearing him spout trivia about old naval boats while our girlfriend had a physically distant drink with a friend.

Our girlfriend is a goddess named Megan. She and Kyle have been dating for two-and-a-half years. And she’s been putting up with me for about 10 months. I’ve spent much of my tenure trying to be worthy of her love. On most days, I come close.

We decided I would quarantine at their place in New Jersey until there was more clarity about the United States’ response to COVID-19. Something about being potentially stuck on an island during a global health crisis felt uncomfortable. So when I returned from a comedy festival in Michigan, I packed my things and fled New York.

Many would find it uncomfortable to sleep with their girlfriend with her other love interest on the opposite side of some drywall and white paint. For me, any discomfort comes from the desire to be a polite guest in someone else’s home. I compulsively do the dishes to feel like I’m doing “my part” in an odd housing situation where I don’t pay rent, but do hook-up with one of the landlords. I was taught at a young age to appreciate hospitality.

The three of us stay busy with work to “act normal” in abnormal times. Kyle has become more involved in his restaurant’s takeaway business. Megan continues to grow her social-media-marketing side hustle. I endlessly refresh Twitter while conjuring a really good dick joke. We cook. We take selfies. We half-watch movies. Megan even started joining me on my podcast.

She and Kyle had a big fight a few days before I showed up. They’d been struggling a lot over the past few months. No, it had nothing to do with jealousy or non-monogamy. They had a big fight the same way monogamous couples have a big fight. If we hadn’t been on the verge of a statewide shutdown, it may have been the final fight. But the other night, after Kyle made us pigs in a blanket from scratch, I saw her laying on top of him listening to old vinyl records in the living room. They seem to be doing a lot better. That makes her happy, which makes me happy. In polyamory, we call that “compersion”.

So, what’s the sex situation? I know that’s what you’re thinking about. Everyone always wants to know about the sex. People are often obsessed with their one poly friend’s genital travel log because that’s (allegedly) where we deviate from the norm. When I talk to family about quarantining, I have
to spend 10 minutes defending why our love is valid. Surely you don’t attempt to justify your monogamous lifestyle when introducing a significant other to your friends. It’s how you live your life. What needs explaining?

Megan typically sleeps with me in the guestroom, but sometimes she’ll spend a night cuddling with Kyle. Today, she woke up early in the morning to slip into bed with me. I love that. It’s the kind of wake-up call that makes you forget we’re living through a fucking pandemic.”

Billy Procida is host of The Manwhore Podcast.

This article originally appeared in the June 2020 issue of marie claire. 

Related stories