Love in a time of COVID?
In reading Ashley Samone’s article: I Ended My 11-Year Relationship During the Pandemic, it dawned on me that I had a nearly opposite experience. Reading Samone’s story made me realize that mine was worth sharing too. So here it goes!
Falling in love isn’t something I expected for a few reasons. Firstly, I can be a bit of a flight risk and not in the traditional sense but more of a gets in her own way sense. (Charming, I know.) I was constantly going for the wrong guy, always trying to work on a project because on some level I wanted to help but on another: I never wanted it to be my fault if we didn’t work out.
If I was always dating projects, I’d always know it wasn’t my fault and I’d always have the upper-hand when I walked away.
And I guess that was important to me, important enough that I always found myself in the same situations even though I saw what I was doing. I’m not stupid, I’m just damaged. Who amongst us isn’t?
Up until now I have spent most of my life single. Scattered relationships lasting a year or two have been peppered in-between my usual state of contented singleness. I’m independent, I like being on my own. I like to sleep alone, write alone and just be: alone. I have always had friends to call when I felt otherwise and the occasional dating of my project-boy-of-the-moment to destroy my sanity before I recoiled again into my aloneness. I was doing just fine.
Growing up I witnessed people devastated by separation. Divorce in the 90’s and early 2000’s was rampant, and my parents were no different. I watched people — primarily women — fighting for support from partners they’d once had loving agreements with. Agreements that didn’t need lawyers and signatures 20 years ago, but now to get half of a life that was built as a team, they suddenly did.
I never wanted to be a woman who needed anyone else. I focused on getting good grades, getting my degrees and making my own money. And I did all that. I never considered a partner when I chose schools, jobs, vacations — anything. I didn’t have to share myself entirely with anyone else.
My grandmother used to say, “I just want you to find a nice doctor to take care of you.” to which I’d respond, “why? I’m not sick.”
Because I take care of myself. Being alone worked and still works for me. Choosing to date however, showed me that I craved something I wasn’t getting as a single person. Otherwise, why did I bother? (See: not stupid, just damaged.)
Enter 2020: the year that changed everything. In February I started seeing a man who was honest, upfront, caring and terrifyingly: emotionally available. I was petrified. I asked if we could pump the brakes, he said ‘yes’ (because that’s what healthy people say) and we did.
A week after we made our relationship official, Massachusetts shut down and I had to choose: quarantine in a two-bedroom with my new boyfriend, my roommate and her boyfriend or risk not seeing the guy who had already treated me better than anyone before him…
…I could always ask him to leave, right?
I asked him to move in — of course, it was supposed to be one month — but as time passed, I found that this person who cared for me openly and without hesitation, was exactly the person I needed: in that moment and all moments after. Needless to say, I did not ask him to leave.
Once Massachusetts started to reopen in June, my boyfriend and I started going between our separate apartments just shy of two miles apart. I was shocked to find that I missed him.
What I realized was that this person wasn’t a threat to my independence. He encouraged it, adored it, and maintained his own. (Albeit it difficult for a stretch in that two-bedroom!) He wasn’t trying to get anything from me but what I wanted from him: love, support, and respect. I’m not his mom and not his therapist, as I felt through many of my tiny relationships in the past. I am his partner and he is mine.
So there we were: still in the midst of a pandemic, regaining a strange new sense of normalcy, not sure of our futures at all. We had just spent nearly four months together — every single day — and my stupid heart had the audacity to miss him. I decided to take another leap since the last one had paid off. I asked him to move in with me. For real this time, for keeps.
This week we moved into our new apartment together.
While I can’t say where this is going, I can say that I am grateful for this man and this moment on planet Earth with him. He takes care of me in ways I can’t take care of myself, and for the first time I can see what I was reaching for when I dated before.
It took a pandemic for me to commit and even though he isn’t a doctor, he does take care of me. My grandmother would have approved.