Just short of a month ago, I went on a date with a guy from Hinge.
Our first date lasted 22 hours as one drink turned into several, then several drinks into spending the next day together, eating breakfast and exploring our city. From the beginning, this relationship was a little unconventional.
After two weeks of dating, he got a cough. COVID-19 was a problem in Italy and China but not really something to worry about in the UK yet – until we realised his boss had just come back from Italy. The advice at the time was simple: stay where you are, no outside contact. After seven days, if we hadn’t shown any symptoms for 24 hours we were allowed to leave. Since neither of us has a car, he couldn't get home from my place without using public transport and so we were stuck. I was about to spend seven days cooped up with my boyfriend of two weeks.
Suddenly being forced to spend a week in each other’s company while ill, this early on in a relationship, was daunting to say the least. I can’t tell you how glad I am we were trapped at my flat rather than his. Not only did I have my home comforts, I also have a spare room, meaning that should we break up on day three, we could at least avoid being in the same room.
First, he told his parents. Since we’d only been dating for two weeks, they didn’t know I existed and what followed was a phone conversation in which he had to admit that over the last two weekends he hadn’t been "meeting his friend Jim" or "doing the decorating" and that in actual fact I was both "Jim" and "the decorating". I fully expect his dad to call me Jim from now on.
We decided to see our quarantine as an opportunity to get to know each other. We started our week in high spirits, as he had only a slight cough and I had no symptoms. By the second day, he was coughing, lethargic and generally unwell. On day four he was recovering, but that was when I began to deteriorate, fever and all.
Although we spent a good portion of the week sleeping due to virus-related exhaustion, one moment on day four really stood out for me. He was starting to feel better and though I hadn’t told him yet, I was definitely starting to feel worse. I had said I would make us a carbonara and as soon as I popped the eggs in the pan, I knew I’d made a mistake – they started to scramble.
It’s the sort of thing I’d normally take in my stride but, probably because I wasn’t feeling well, I went into meltdown. He popped one arm around my waist, kissed me on the forehead and set about rescuing our dinner. He fixed the dish and it was delicious. It stuck with me because I’m usually the one in a relationship who 'fixes' things and I didn’t feel like I could rely on my last partner. I think I fell for him a little bit then.
We learned a lot about each other, and luckily it was a mix of good and not-really-that-bad. I learned that while he’s an incredible chef, he’s also the messiest cook in existence; I literally found chilli in the toaster. He said he learned that I am a bit anal about tidiness (cue my mum’s snort of disbelief) but that he loved watching me work, which made him realise just how clever I am.
As you'd expect from a week spent living on top of each other, we had to weather the bodily functions part of dating pretty speedily. It was intense but I'm glad that part's now in the past; he’s seen me looking about as rough as I can get, and he’s reached the point of not bothering to close the bathroom door when going for a wee.
While I wouldn’t recommend self-isolating with someone you’ve only known for two weeks – no matter how much you fancy them – in this case, miraculously, it turned out well. Not only did we not kill each other, we fast-forwarded our relationship to the comfortable, old-married-couple stage. And while some might think that means we've missed the honeymoon period, I have to admit, I’m loving it.