We met in a park on a sunny afternoon in the middle of a pandemic.
I brought us cans of Brew Dog Punk IPA. You turned up all tall, handsome, and bearded.
At first, we social distanced. And then you became part of my bubble, and days turned to weeks and soon, you asked if I would be your girlfriend.
I wanted it to be an epic love story—two unlikely souls who met during a historical moment in time. I kept thinking to myself, imagine what we could get through if we could get through this.
Maybe that was part of the problem. I didn’t see what was actually in front of me, and I was falling for our potential before even knowing who you really were as a person.
And at first, it did feel like magic. You were a beacon in this darkness. Something novel when the world had gone still. I couldn’t help but think lockdown wouldn’t be so bad anymore if I had someone to do it with.
My life hadn’t actually changed that much because I was still working—except for the uncertainty, monotony, social isolation. But you were off work, so you were able to give me all your attention.
You texted every day. What you were doing. Sending me photos of your morning coffee and recently taken up yoga sessions. You’d ask me what I was up to, genuinely curious. You’d want me to stay over for days at a time. What else did I have to do anyway? This was a global pandemic.
“I’m worried about hanging out too much too soon,” I’d say.
“In my opinion, we’re not hanging out enough.” You’d reply back, and I couldn’t help but smile and bite my tongue, and looking back now, I realize that this should have been a moment of caution. That space is important at the beginning of a relationship. I should have set boundaries. I should have been the one to push back. But we were both already falling and caught up in the excitement.
You told me you never felt this way about someone before. Your friends would tell me they’d never seen you like this.
I wanted to believe it was real, and maybe it was, for a little bit. But a relationship can’t work in a bubble. Instead of thinking, we can do anything if we could survive a pandemic, I should have been asking, if we can work now, how will we manage when there are real-life problems? Anyone can be happy watching TV together and eating takeaway. Can you be there for me when work gets stressful, if someone gets sick, if my mental health gets bad?
At the first sign of things opening, I could feel you starting to shift.
Work started up again. You were excited, and I was excited for you. But it felt like you were more excited about getting away from me than you were about getting back to your old schedule.
You pulled back. There were days disappearing. Hours of unanswered texts.
I tried to be patient. I told myself, this was just a transition. I could feel my insecurities boil to the surface. I wanted to let you be, to give you space, to not be “needy,” but I could feel you slipping through my fingers, and it made my grip tighten.
When you broke up with me, I couldn’t help but wonder: was I just a lockdown girlfriend?
Was I convenience? Someone to pass the summer by with. Someone to fill your days because you didn’t have any other plans.
I don’t think you realized it. I believe you thought you wanted to be with me. You know, it’s actually quite easy to fall for someone in a global pandemic.
What’s harder is the real stuff. What’s harder is showing up on the tough days. It’s even harder to be on your own and sit with whatever is still lingering beneath the surface.
I thought I wanted a lockdown boyfriend. I was envious of the couples buying food for two, of the memes about getting sick of your partner—at least they had a partner to get sick of. I was envious that they had physical touch, someone to lay in bed and watch TV with.
I thought I was ready for a relationship, but I also saw how easily I fell back into negative patterns. How quickly my codependency picked up. How I abandoned myself the moment I had someone to spend my time with.
I’m grateful I was a lockdown girlfriend because staying together in a bubble would have been too comfortable and easy. And who knows whether I’d be the same person I am now had I not been forced out of it.
I now know that you cannot depend on a relationship to ease loneliness. I’ve sat with myself on the low days. I’ve gotten back to writing. I’ve picked up reading again. I’ve been running in the sun, on the cold days, when the rain is coming down, and I plow through it like I’m running head-first into my problems.
I’m not “looking” for love anymore. At least, not from a place of desperation.
I don’t want to be a lockdown girlfriend because I think now I’ve fallen a little bit more in love with myself, and I’ll be there for me before, during, and after this pandemic.
Imagine what I can get through now that I’ve gotten through this.