When you start dating someone new, there’s a certain cadence to how things progress. You have a few dates and you have your first makeout (and promptly brag to your squad about it). If things go well, you define the relationship at some point, meet each other’s friends and then families. If things are still going really smoothly, you might eventually start talking about living together or getting married. For couples who met right before the coronavirus pandemic, however, that predictable trajectory has been turned upside-down. Since being in quarantine puts a lot of pressure on new relationships, it seems to serve as an accelerator.
Couples who were just freshly boo’d up when quarantine began are facing a unique set of circumstances. Not only do they have to make a number of serious decisions together (like whether or not they’ll move in together for the sake of safety), but they also may be forced to grapple with challenging obstacles as a team, like coping with the stress resulting from this global crisis, adjusting to long-distance if they're quarantined apart, and potentially seeing each other through a loss of work and financial struggles.
“Couples are spending a lot of time together, and asking each other thought-provoking questions to learn more about each other," says Julie Spira, an online dating expert and creator behind the advice site Dating in the Age of COVID-19. "Relationships are growing deeper with meaningful conversations. Bonding during a crisis is real."
With fewer distractions and far more idle time to spend with their newfound partner, it’s no wonder many of these new relationships are progressing much faster than normal. According to Spira, there are pros and cons to these "fast-tracked relationships." On the positive side, these couples may be able to both experience deeper intimacy and assess their compatibility more quickly than they would under normal circumstances.
"The downside to falling in love quickly with your pre-coronavirus sweetheart is you're projecting to the future and may make promises you can't keep," she explains. “After the honeymoon period ends, you have to decide whether this person is a fit for you for the long haul or just someone to be at your side during the pandemic. When life goes back to the 'new normal,' you'll know if your relationship is for keeps.”
While couples' experiences obviously range drastically, here are some stories of romances that were fast-tracked by the pandemic.
A Change Of Plans
Haley, 26, started a new relationship right before the coronavirus pandemic happened — and while initially they agreed to take a break once these circumstances came into play, they ultimately changed course and decided to stay together once stay-at-home orders began.
"Now, he’s the only person I’ve seen in two months," she tells Elite Daily.
While quarantine may have inspired them to salvage their relationship, Haley says it has caused their trajectory to slow down in certain ways, too.
"We live in the same city as my parents, whom he probably would have met by now if it weren’t a potential health risk," she explains.
Three Little Words
When quarantine started, Jenni, 22, had only been seeing her current BF for a few weeks. Even though they're not quarantined together and live 40 miles apart, she says their relationship has definitely gotten serious fast given all the time they're spending together at each other's respective abodes.
"Spending nearly every moment together for a couple of weeks at a time isn’t usually realistic, but without work, it’s been happening," she tells Elite Daily. "He said 'I love you' quite early, but I do love him, too."
Jenni admits she's not sure how their relationship will be impacted as conditions change.
"Now that life’s starting back up again, I’m a bit more concerned about how close we will actually stay," she adds.
Kiera, 25, made things official with her boyfriend in February — and just a month later, they decided to move in together for quarantine.
"I live in Manhattan and my boyfriend lives in Queens, so there was no way our relationship would have worked well had we not moved in together," she says, adding, "We both value quality time."
During quarantine, they've crossed a number of milestones — like meeting each other’s family and friends via FaceTime, sharing a home office, and learned lots about each other's habits.
"It’s a lot of things I didn’t expect in the first six months of dating," she explains. "It feels like we really share a life now. We’ve already joked about how we might have separation anxiety when this is all up."
From Swiping To Serious
While Abbe, 34, entered quarantine single, she admits she was just another lonely millennial looking for a sexting and binge-watching buddy. Things took quite a turn, however, when she hit it off with a Tinder match on April 15.
Originally, she and her match planned to just date virtually, but since they live alone, on April 18 — just three days after they "met" — the two lovebirds committed to seeing only each other. As of May 19, they made things official. Not only have they said "ILY" already, but they're even talking about moving in together in September.
Abbe believes the conditions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic definitely guided her relationship into more serious territory. For the sake of safety, they both committed to not hooking up with or seeing anyone else during quarantine, which she believes gave them both some reassurance that they were both in it for the long haul.
"I knew he wasn’t going to ghost me, and I knew he wasn’t out there dating other people so automatically it allowed us a sense of comfort with each other," she explains. "And then I think because I wasn’t scared he was going to disappear or start dating someone else and I’d never hear from him again, we were able to instantly be more honest and vulnerable with each other."
Growing From A Distance
For Ashley, 21, maintaining a long-distance relationship amid the pandemic has definitely brought its challenges — especially since she and her boo just started dating in December of 2019. However, she and her current boyfriend crossed an exciting milestone during quarantine: deciding when they're finally going to move closer to each other. They've also been using this time to save up for the move.
"We are using this time in quarantine to plan for our future," she tells Elite Daily.
While the couple was planning on moving by January of 2021, the conditions around the pandemic have forced them to push back that timeline. Still, Ashley says they've really "developed their relationship" in recent months.
"It's forced us to have those tough conversations — via FaceTime, which sucks — but we persevere," she adds.
Talking About The Tough Stuff
When quarantine started, Taylor, 32, had been dating her now-boyfriend for only a month. He moved home to take care of his high-risk parents, which forced them to adjust to a long-distance relationship. Apparently, coping with the pandemic and the distance has forced them to have some important conversations.
"I don’t know if things have moved quicker, but things have definitely been more intentional with [expressing] wants/needs/standards," she tells Elite Daily. "It’s going well!"
Quarantining With The Future In-Laws
Alma, 27, moved to Mexico in late January for a few reasons: she had friends there, there were lots of job opportunities in her field, and the guy she'd just started dating lived there. While all the interviews she lined up mid-March got cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus, the pandemic did have an unexpectedly positive effect on her new relationship.
"I’ve ended up staying most of my time (85%) with my boyfriend, his sisters, and family at their parents' house," she tells Elite Daily. "I would have never, never, never imagined having breakfast, lunch and dinner with my [potential future] in-laws almost every day only a couple of months into the relationship."
Alma says it's even gotten to the point where her boyfriend's little sisters are already hinting that they'd love to be aunts, and her future-father-in-law is requesting that they name their first boy after him — so yeah, things are definitely speeding right along.
Hannah, 28, started dating her boyfriend on Jan. 31 — so when quarantine began in March, things were still relatively new. Not only have they seen each other every single day since then, but things have been moving quickly — in fact, they're already looking at buying a house together.
"On Saturday, we got into a 'fight' about what neighborhood we wanted to live in — and it was crazy because I had a flash like, 'Why are we planning on 10 years from now when I barely know you?'"
Julie Spira, online dating expert