Lockdown love stories
From strengthened relationships to unforgettable lockdown dates, this past year has been a surprising success in the world of dating
By Delilah Kealy-Roberts
Over the past 12 months (yes, it really has been that long), the string of lockdowns and other restrictions have impacted people in various, cataclysmic ways. Families have spent an unprecedented time in each other’s company, the casual house-mate relationship has intensified, and, against all the odds, people have still been looking for love. On Valentine’s Day 2021, the couples who have come through the lockdowns stronger than ever deserve one hell of a celebration. Surprisingly, there are a lot of them out there.
Despite the doom and gloom of life in lockdown, there have been countless romantic success stories over the past year. According to Relate, a leading relationships charity, the last year has been a ‘make or break time for couples’. While many partnerships crumbled under the pressure, others intensified and left people feeling more connected to their partners than ever before.
The overall stats are a more pleasant read than you might expect. Research conducted by Relate reveals that an optimistic 59% of new couples now feel more committed to their partner, with 58% saying that they want to be with their partner forever. Despite the turbulent year we’ve all had, it seems clear that the lockdowns have brought many of us closer together than before – whether we’ve built upon an existing relationship or have started a new one against all the odds.
So who are these legendary couples?! And how are people conducting such successful dating lives while the rest of the world has turned upside down?
Here we present to you some of our favourite lockdown love stories…
The phrase ‘turbo relationship’ has been coined to describe any couple who have taken big steps during lockdown. Mainly, we’re talking about the flurry of new couples that have decided to take the plunge and move in together. Olivia, 25, first met her partner on New Year’s Day 2020 – back when we all felt a little more optimistic. After chatting in a bar in Newcastle, the pair began dating. However, at the time, Olivia lived and worked in London so they couldn’t see each other often.
‘I really liked him,’ she explains, ‘but it felt like it couldn’t and wouldn’t last that long and would have to fizzle out quickly because we weren’t in the same city very often.’
But everything changed on the 23rd of March, 2020: ‘The beginning of lockdown was good because it was like the real world was on pause and we got our chance to see if it would really work,’ said Olivia. For her and her partner, things felt right. So instead of remaining in London over lockdown or staying with her parents, she ended up moving in with him – turbo-charging a relationship which has continued to go from strength to strength since ever since.
‘We’d most likely never be here without lockdown,’ Olivia says. ‘It does feel like we’ve been together for much longer than we have. We now live together with a dog and we’ve got a van that we bought together to do up. I never would have thought all that could happen in a year!’
Dating App Success Stories
During a time when our digital lives were far more exciting than our real ones, it makes sense that single people everywhere turned to dating apps. For many, the novelty wore off when meeting up IRL remained impossible. But for the more determined – like Becca, 26 – perseverance paid off. After meeting her current partner on a dating app during a slight relaxation of lockdown rules in November, the couple set out on a string of ambitious outdoor dates and quickly became close.
From cycle tours around Leeds to a chilly picnic with a self-made fire (that was “totally under control”, according to him,’ Becca laughs), the pair got creative and it was this creativity that brought them closer together. When asked how lockdown has impacted their relationship so far, Becca said: ‘It’s definitely sped things up and I feel really close to him. We’re both quite busy and ambitious people, but it’s given us an opportunity to actually get to know each other, which might not have happened if it hadn’t been for a lockdown.’
Navigating New Relationships
Those who began their relationship before lockdown had very different ideas about what the next few months would hold. Ready to embark on the classic ‘honeymoon period’ and enjoy learning about one another over meals out and introductions to friends at the pub, their new relationship was suddenly locked down and isolated.
Daisy, 25, explains how she and her partner navigated this stage of their relationship during tight restrictions and periods when they couldn’t see each other at all. ‘We met around Christmas last year,’ she says, ‘but were dating quite casually and I had plans to go travelling. Then lockdown happened and all my travel plans went out the window!’
After her plans fell through, there seemed to be more potential for their budding relationship – but they still had the problem of living apart during a national lockdown. Despite the difficulties, the pair made the best of a strange situation: ‘It was almost fun at first… like a novelty. We chatted a lot, which was really nice, and we did a lot of Zoom dates. Especially at the start, we both put in a lot of effort and even got dressed up.’
When asked about the impact this strange year has had on them, Daisy said: ‘Lockdown has definitely impacted our relationship a lot and it is, in a way, the reason that we’re still together, which seems ridiculous!’ She went on to add: ‘Also, I think there’s something to be said about not being able to kiss or touch at all. It made me feel, at times, like a teenager again – a lot of butterflies!’
The COVID pandemic has sent many of our lives into disarray, but (almost) a year on, it’s refreshing to reflect upon the silver linings. From strengthened relationships to unforgettable lockdown dates, this past year has been a surprising success in the world of dating.
*Some names have been changed within this article to protect the privacy of individuals.