In an act of what I initially thought was mercy, the universe decided to stick me and my boyfriend of three months in the same apartment during a pandemic. What was supposed to be a weekend together back in early March has now turned into almost two months of constantly being near each other with small breaks only when he decides to go for a run. And as much as I truly enjoy his presence, I’m seeing way too much, way too fast.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful that I have someone to ride out what seems like the end of the world with. I can’t imagine how bad it must be for people out there who are dealing with the challenges of social distancing by themselves. But rest assured, I can confidently say that being stuck inside with an S.O. you can’t get away from can be anxiety-inducing, too.
As someone who enjoys having my own space, I find myself constantly battling the feeling of being invaded. The only private areas in my tiny Brooklyn apartment are the bathroom and my bedroom, either of which are often occupied by one of us at any given time. And please don’t get me started about those times when my boyfriend comes out into the kitchen to sit near me or works next to me in bed for several hours.
My boyfriend and I haven’t been dating very long, and we’re still very much getting to know each other. Being forced to occupy the same space for a very long period of time has accelerated that process. Needless to say, it’s very overwhelming.
If you fight with the person you’re stuck with, you can’t get away from each other to cool off in the aftermath.
In the first weeks of quarantine, I learned that my boyfriend rarely cleans up after himself, eats in bed, and has a voice that carries more than mine (an accomplishment). While he can’t help the volume of his voice, his other habits involving cleanliness have driven me up a wall. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve passive-aggressively sighed when putting his mug with a skateboarding rat saying “Ratical” into the sink after he left it on my white table (already littered with coffee-ring stains from the previous times it sat there for hours). As much as I love the mug’s aesthetic, it has become the bane of my existence.
I tried to talk to him about these issues early on during quarantine, and nothing really came of it. But here’s the crazy thing about quarantine: if you fight with the person you’re stuck with, you can’t get away from each other to cool off in the aftermath. This mind-blowing realization caused me to hold in a lot of anger about the tiny things he was doing that I wouldn’t have experienced if we weren’t stuck with each other all day.
About three weeks into quarantine, this reached a fever pitch when I became completely overwhelmed. My boyfriend had a front row seat to my breakdown when I told him about how I couldn’t deal with being stuck in the apartment with him and how it felt like there was no end to this pandemic. After unleashing all of my pent-up feelings, the conversation ended with me telling him he has to go back to his own home at some point during the week. He thankfully doesn’t live more than about a 20-minute walk from me, so he wouldn’t have as high of a risk of getting infected as he would if the trip required taking public transportation. We hadn’t discussed this before because we didn’t expect quarantine to last more than a month, and we figured we could conquer it together without breaking a sweat. But the more time we were trapped in my apartment, the more suffocated I felt. I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
Yet something weird happened the next day. After releasing all of my feelings about him being here with me, I felt a wave of relief. Yes, he still had his bad habits so he hadn’t necessarily changed, but suddenly I felt much better about having to endure this with him. He understood and validated my breakdown, and didn’t fight me on any of it. He allowed me to be dramatically upset for a few minutes and didn’t waver at all. And if he can listen to me during a pandemic, then I’m confident we won’t have any major communication problems anytime soon.
The irony is, now that I actually feel ready to have him stay, he does have to go home soon. But, we’re not separating because we can’t handle each other. The pandemic is going on much longer than we (or anyone for that matter) initially anticipated, so we have to start making some alternative plans about how we’re going to deal with — my apartment simply is not equipped to handle the two of us and my roommate in the long-term.
When my boyfriend leaves, I will miss him, but I won’t miss his habits. I’d rather save our next conversation about his quirks for down the road if we end up living together, not three months into our relationship. That being said, if we do hit that milestone in the future, we know what we’re in for. Quarantining together wasn’t the ideal way of getting to know each other’s living style, but it strengthened our relationship at the end of the day month.
I’m not looking forward to the night when I have to sleep by myself for the first time in two months. I know for a fact it’s going to suck. But it’ll be nice to have the bed, my room, and the last roll of toilet paper to myself.