‘We missed our moment’
Mathilde Laluque, 31, Paris, France
Wedding dress maker Matilde Laluque and her 29-year-old boyfriend had enjoyed a romantic six weeks exploring Parisian galleries and restaurants after meeting on Tinder in mid-January.
But the couple opted to navigate the French capital’s lockdown while living apart. Unable to work, freelancer Laluque moved into her parents’ house on the outskirts of the city to avoid being stuck in her tiny studio apartment, while her partner remained with his flatmates and continued his job in finance.
“We were a bit naive thinking it would only last two weeks,” says Laluque. “We thought there might still be some way of visiting each other but that’s not the case. If my mum were to drive me into Paris, we’d get arrested.”
They’ve managed to maintain their relationship thanks to “a great amount of lovely conversations” on the phone. However, Laluque says she wishes they’d taken the gamble of trying out cohabiting and says she can understand why other new couples decided to rush into things. “I still hope we can move in together one day, but the crisis has affected my finances and that will affect our options in the future now.”
Covid-19 crisis love: What the experts say
While the global Covid-19 pandemic is unique, it’s not unusual for new couples to form or stick together in crisis situations, explains Matt Lundquist, a relationship psychotherapist based in New York. “In moments of fear and panic, we grab onto the safest, most-available-for-intimacy person around us,” he says, adding that he observed a similar phenomenon after the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.
For those already in flourishing new relationships, cohabitation under these circumstances may heighten emotions and increase their connection, he argues. Others, however, may be “in denial” about their true feelings, having settled for “someone they knew under normal circumstances they shouldn’t have gone on a fourth date with”.
But Lundquist believes shacking up with an unsuitable long-term partner isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the current climate.
“I think for many, isolation is pretty terrifying… so everybody needs to do what they need to do to get through this,” he says. “A lot of therapists are needing to contradict what under normal circumstances would be good advice like avoiding getting into a relationship too quickly or dating somebody who perhaps follows an old unhealthy pattern, and instead make concessions to help people find as much safety as they can to survive.”