Love In Lockdown: Wait, Did We Move In Together Too Soon?

2020 has seen many couples fast track their romance, moving at a speed now coined the 'turbo relationship'

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Six months down the line, what happens if it all feels too much, too soon? Denise Curtin finds out.

If I had to paint the perfect scene whereby me and my partner decide to move in together, it would go a little like this: firstly, we’d be dating for just over a year, living in the same city, near each other, but not too close. Secondly, we’d spend every date night wishing we had more hours, constantly sleeping over at each other’s houses, our wardrobes slowly becoming divided between two homes, a second toothbrush appearing in my cup. And lastly, when it got to a point where we just couldn’t fathom another moment spent apart, we’d take the next ‘big step’ in our relationship, finding the perfect apartment, moving in together, getting a dog, etc – you know the fairytale.

But putting my Disney filter aside, for most couples, moving in together is a major milestone. It involves a lot of planning, deliberation and important chats about things like finances and logistics, making sure both parties are on the same page, wanting the same thing. Well, this was in a pre pandemic world. Nowadays, 2020 has seen a rise in a new phenomenon, the turbo relationship. A phase coined earlier this year due to the speed at which couples had to shack up or be separated by lockdown. It threw any preconceived plans out the window, and saw many couples, some at the very early stages of dating, now sharing a flat, a bed and even, an office space.

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It was the ultimatum nobody saw coming, and the options were both pretty terrifying; speed up the relationship or potentially forfeit it completely. At a time when lockdown restrictions were getting tighter and tighter, the fear of the virus growing in correlation to the numbers escalating, there was no time to ponder over decisions. No time to shop for the perfect apartment, it was a case of kissing your partner goodbye for the foreseeable, or kissing them goodnight every night, the guidelines were simple, but unfortunately, the only part that was straightforward.

Alex*, 27, moved in with her boyfriend at the beginning of lockdown when it became clear to her that restrictions might prevent them from moving between counties. “My boyfriend asked me to move in with him at the end of March. At the time, he was living in Limerick, and I was in Dublin, so we both knew there was a high chance we wouldn’t be able to see each other in the coming weeks, even months if we didn’t act fast,” she tells STELLAR. “Like many others, we made the decision on a whim, and because I was working from home, I had the flexibility of being able pack up my bags and head down to him the following night. But being totally honest, I didn’t expect to still see myself at his place six months later.”

Explaining that she’s continued to pay her Dublin rent throughout her time living in Limerick, Alex* thought her situation was going to be temporary, but now, has been informed that she won’t be back in her office until June 2021 at the earliest.

“My boyfriend is now telling me to hand in the notice on my Dublin flat to save myself the extortionate rent” adds Alex*. “The only problem is, I’m honestly unsure if I’m ready to give up my Dublin life. It weirdly kind of feels like I’m giving up a bit of my independence too, and I’m unsure if that’s because we rushed into things, or because I keep thinking about how much I enjoyed my routine in a pre-Covid world. Either way, I sorta feel in limbo. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy right now, but I don’t know if I feel settled on one decision.”

And Alex* is just one case study of what we’d believe to be millions of turbo love examples across the globe in recent months. Now finding herself living in Limerick with her boyfriend of one year; the pair are at a point in their timeline which neither of them expected when they first started dating back in October 2019.

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Funnily enough, life being unpredictable is really the only thing we can predict and 2020 is a prime example of that, and of Tom Hiddleston’s phrase “you never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”

Taking things day by day and obstacle by obstacle is key to not feeling too overwhelmed and the same goes for relationship issues. Sharing advice for worried couples who’ve just moved in together during lockdown, dating coach Frances Kelleher explains that it’s natural to need time to “adjust to each other, relationships take work and sometimes they can be hard.” Continuing, Frances adds that “carving out your own individual space within the house” can help, especially during the WFH period when days are hectic and alone time is required. However, if the living situation continues to feel a little too much, too soon, Frances explains that it’s important to not feel defeated. “Have an honest and open conversation about how you feel. Open, gentle communication is key here. Explain that it’s the situation, not your partner. Taking a few steps back does not mean you are going backwards.”

And that’s the moral of the story, really. Relationships adapt and change as they grow, and often figuring out what works best is simply a case of trail and error. There’s no one method or one path to happy ever after, and just because a situation doesn’t work well right now, doesn’t mean it’s not destined to down the line.

Thinking of moving in with your partner? Here are dating coach France Kelleher’s 5 checklist signs 

1. You can just hang out together doing nothing and feel completely comfortable. This is a great sign because it shows just being with the person is enough. 
2. You can be completely yourself, the good, the bad, the ugly and they fully accept you.
3. You have talked about what you both want out of the relationship and you have the same values and goals in life. Common values and goals are what keeps a relationship together.
4. You have stopped looking and feel there is no one better for you. The search has ended because you are happy.

5. You feel this person respects you, wants the best for you and tries their best to make you happy and vice versa.

*names have been changed