Cold, darkness, a menacing global pandemic – it makes sense that the elusive winter cuff was never more sought after than in 2020.
After the least fun summer on record – where pulling opportunities were limited to shouting at someone you fancied across a socially-distanced pub garden, or just saying “fuck it” and shagging your friends – many of us desperately wanted to find a partner to spend the winter months with. Ideally someone who’d have sex with us on a semi-regular basis, cut our hair when the salons were closed and, crucially, someone we might actually be able to live with when the second lockdown inevitably arrived (which it did, on the 2nd of November).
But this cuffing season hasn’t been an easy ride, with dating apps variously described to me as a “chaotic hellhole” and “frightening free for all”. But how does it feel to be one of the lucky ones who were successful in their search?
To find out, we spoke to people who met their current partner during the brief summer period when lockdown was lifted, and are now either living with them or are part of their “support bubble”.
‘MAYBE SUBCONSCIOUSLY WE BOTH WANTED TO LOCK EACH OTHER DOWN BEFORE LOCKDOWN’
“My girlfriend and I got together at the beginning of the second lockdown. I wouldn’t say that getting a partner for lockdown was particularly intentional, although in hindsight it was good to move from the dating stage to the relationship stage before the second lockdown came in. I feel like dating right now couldn’t really constitute more than getting a takeaway coffee and sitting on a freezing park bench for a couple of hours.
“Me and my now-girlfriend have moved pretty quickly – I’m not sure if that was a conscious choice, but maybe subconsciously we both wanted to lock each other down before lockdown. I hope it carries on after lockdown, and I think it will, as this hasn’t been an exclusively lockdown thing. We were talking just before the first lockdown, but our planned first date got put on hold, funnily enough.” — Alex, 22
‘IT’S MADE THINGS TEN TIMES EASIER HAVING HUMAN TOUCH AND A BIT OF ROMANCE!’
“I met the person I’m seeing in early September. I wouldn’t say I was totally calculating about finding a partner, but I was definitely more ‘engaged’ on the apps and more open to meeting someone because I’d been so bored and lonely. I think on our first date we were speaking about when the second lockdown might happen and by our third or fourth date we were saying we could bubble up. I’m glad we did. I live on my own and it’s made things ten times easier having human touch and a bit of romance!” — Raye, 25
‘IT’S ALWAYS NICE HAVING CONVERSATIONS ABOUT WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO AFTER EVERYTHING’S BACK TO NORMAL’
“My boyfriend and I got together before the second lockdown was even thought of, in August. I think that, because of the pandemic, the relationship moved slower than usual, at least for me anyway. We wanted to meet first before starting something serious – that meant we were speaking online for five months, which I think for a talking stage for anyone is pretty long. After we became official, it’s moved at a normal pace. I really do think that the relationship will last past the pandemic. It’s always nice having conversations about what we’re going to do after everything’s back to ‘normal’, and we’re both really excited about it all!” — Ellie, 21
‘WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO BUILD A SOLID FOUNDATION, AND THAT WOULD NORMALLY TAKE MONTHS TO BUILD, IN JUST A COUPLE OF WEEKS’
“When I started this relationship, I didn’t have the lockdown in mind. It was more that I had more time to think about dating as I couldn’t see friends as easily and frequently. The relationship has moved much quicker than usual – due to the pandemic we see each other almost every day and spend the whole weekend together. We went from seeing each other to ‘going out’ in a matter of weeks, which was very exciting. We’ve been able to build a solid foundation, that would normally take months to build, in just a couple of weeks.” — Luke, 24
‘IT’S WEIRD THAT WE’VE NEVER SEEN EACH OTHER IN THE CONTEXT OF OUR NORMAL LIVES’
“I didn’t get a partner for the second lockdown, intentionally. I went back on Hinge in July looking for something more casual, just because I’d been locked down at my mum’s house for months. Once I met my boyfriend, I started thinking it might be something more serious.
“We took about four months to be official, so that wasn’t that quick. But now with lockdown, I’ve been his support bubble so I’ve been spending like a week at a time at his, which we probably wouldn’t be doing otherwise. We have talked about how we have talked about how it’s weird that we’ve never seen each other in the context of our normal lives – obviously, once things go back to normal, we’ll have less free time for each other because of not working from home and the temptation of nights out and stuff. But I like to think it wouldn’t be too different from how it is now.” – Alexis, 25
‘WE GOT TOGETHER IN LOCKDOWN, BUT THE RELATIONSHIP ISN’T BORN FROM IT’
“Me and my now-girlfriend met up in June, a couple months after she broke up with her ex. It didn’t really look like we’d ever be living close to each other back then, so we weren’t really thinking about the second lockdown. When we got together, she made it clear she wanted to keep it casual. I was happy with that. We hung out when we could, and then when she decided on a Masters quite late and wanted to do it at my uni, we started really spending time together.
“We both fully fell in love around August or September. I guess we’ve been very lucky to be living and studying and ‘bubbling’ so close together, so yeah, lockdown ending doesn’t really bother me. We got together in lockdown, but the relationship isn’t born from it.” — Ollie, 21.
“I OFTEN THINK ABOUT HOW DIFFERENT THINGS WITH US WOULD BE, IF EVERYTHING WAS NORMAL’
“I met my current partner on Tinder, which I generally don’t use when I’m looking for something more serious. I used to have really unhealthy relationships I rushed into, so this time I wanted to take it slow. A few aspects of lockdown definitely sped things up – we can only meet at each other’s homes because everything’s closed, so we’re used to being in each other’s spaces. We don’t see many friends, so we spend more time with each other than we normally would.
“I often think about how different things with us would be if everything was ‘normal’. We haven’t really met each other’s friends and don’t know what normal life looks like for the other person. There could be surprises about this person, even though I feel like I know them so well already.” — Maya, 23