3 People on Navigating Their Relationship Doubts During the Pandemic

Seven billion people have collectively navigated the ripple effects of COVID-19 for at least three months now—ripple effects that have changed the way we live our lives, and conduct our relationships. As parts of our lives begin to tentatively open back up, many of us are taking our first steps back into a world we closed the door to more than 100 days ago—either in the company of, or separate from, our romantic partners (or romantic possibilities). We talked to three women who are grappling with relationship doubts triggered by this global limbo, trying to navigate the best path forward.

“I don’t know if I’m just bored and want the attention, or if I actually really like her.” —Lucy

I started to talk to this girl in January. It was really casual at first, but we were going on dates–it wasn’t like we were just hooking up. We admitted that we had feelings for each other, but we wanted to take it really slow. Those plans were interrupted when quarantine hit in March. I went to Atlanta to stay with my parents, thinking I would only be gone for a week or so, but it’s been three months and I’m still here.

Our relationship became entirely virtual, which is weird considering we aren’t even officially in a relationship. It really impacted our momentum. I can’t tell if she’s lost interest in continuing things, or if the mixed signals I’m getting are stemming from the experience of being in quarantine, where everyone is somewhat depressed. I’m also confused about my own feelings. I don’t know if I’m just bored and want the attention, or if I actually really like her.

I was able to go back to North Carolina, where we both live, at the end of May, and got to see her outside while staying six feet apart. We picked up right where we left off and things felt good, but then I had to go back to Atlanta and the momentum fizzled again. It’s hard being long-distance when the relationship is so new. We don’t have that built-in foundation yet.

I had an inkling that she was talking to other people, so I downloaded Tinder again (because that’s where we originally matched) and saw she’d added more recent photos, so I was like, “Ah, dang it.” I decided I needed to talk to her about it. I asked if she was seeing or talking to anyone else, and she told me she was only talking to me romantically.

She also said she could see us dating and being in a relationship, when we’re able to actually be together in person. That gave me a bit more clarity, but still it gets confusing. I read into everything now, you know? It’s so hard to understand how someone else feels when you’re only communicating over text message.

“The scariest part of a wedding is that it’s only the beginning.” —Bianca

I live in London with my partner of four years and our two dogs. We were supposed to get married at the end of May, but we had to cancel the wedding due to the pandemic. As soon as we did, this huge feeling of relief flooded me. I work from home as a private chef, so ultimately not a lot changed for me with the enforced quarantine, but my fiancé, who works in the (currently shut-down) film industry, was suddenly at home indefinitely. The dynamic in the flat is so different from what I’m used to. He’s almost treating it like an extended holiday, which bugs me quite a lot. I’m just like, “When are you going to leave the house?” And then, “Why am I not happy to be with you here?”

I’ve been experiencing significant feelings of doubt, and have considered ending our relationship. This is super hard for me, as we have been living together for three years and our lives are very entangled, not to mention that it will be challenging to find somewhere I can live and work. I can’t afford the rent in our flat by myself long-term, and I’m not in a position to share with a roommate when I need to have 90% sole ownership of the kitchen most days.

It’s difficult to try to make this decision while still in lockdown. I can’t tell if quarantine is revealing the reality of our relationship, or if the circumstances are so unique that I need to take my feelings with a grain of salt.

Pre-lockdown, my fiancé and I spent between two and three waking hours together on an average weekday. Now, we spend 18 working hours together daily, and I wonder if it has expedited the progress of our relationship. In other words, is a month of lockdown equivalent to six months of being together under normal circumstances, and would these doubts have manifested eventually, just further down the road?

I keep thinking about how the scariest part of a wedding is that it’s only the beginning. You think you’re about to pass the finish line, and then it’s all over. But it’s not over, it’s the first day of your marriage.

“He seems unsure of what he wants… and I don’t know if I should wait around while he figures it out.” —Ashwini

I started seeing a guy I met on Hinge a month and a half before a complete lockdown was imposed in India, and things moved pretty quickly between us (when you click, you click!). Two weeks into seeing each other, he asked me to leave my toothbrush at his place. I ended up quasi-living there at least three days a week, and it was great. We would order takeout and watch movies together almost every night.

Cut to the pandemic–our ability to meet up was totally disrupted. I couldn’t go to his place. There were no Ubers, there were no regular taxis, no buses, no trains, no metro. There was nothing. At first we were still talking to each other every day, but he ended up moving back to his hometown to live out the remainder of quarantine with his parents, and we started communicating less–out of sight, out of mind, I guess. That’s really when I started to feel a strain on the relationship.

I asked him if he had started seeing someone else, but he assured me he hadn’t. He said he was still into me, he just didn’t know how to navigate this situation since we can’t see each other and don’t know when we’ll be able to. I’m trying to be understanding about that. The world is falling apart, and every person has their own way of dealing with it. Mine would be leaning onto him for a bit of moral support or whatever, but clearly he operates differently. So I said, “Whatever it is that you want I’ll make peace with it, I’m sure I can meet you halfway.”

He seems unsure of what he wants, though, and I don’t know if I should wait around while he figures it out. I don’t want him to feel pressured or rushed. I just want to be able to pick up my phone and talk to him whenever I want. That would be enough for me right now.

We’ve decided to take things down a notch and hopefully go back to how we were before the pandemic caused this rift. I hate it, but at least he is not seeing someone else. I want to believe there’s hope for us.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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