“Swipe This!” is an advice column about how to navigate human relationships and connections in an age when we depend so heavily on technology. Have a question? Email [email protected].
Dear Swipe This!
Back in March, my city shut down because of COVID-19. I started working from home and social distancing, but I decided I wasn’t going to let the shutdown stop me from dating. So I went on the apps and I started going on video dates pretty regularly. I met one guy who stood out right away. We started talking daily, then we went for social distance walks, and (after we both got tested) we started sleeping over at each other’s places regularly.
My roommates were annoyed, so eventually, I started going to his place instead of having him over. Staying with him has been such a nice escape from the stress of everything going on in the world right now. When we’re together we have so much fun and our relationship feels natural and easy.
Now my lease is almost up, and his will be, too, in a couple of months. We’ve talked about moving in together, and we haven’t made a commitment yet, but I feel really excited about the possibility.
My friends think I’m being irresponsible. I really want us to move in together, but whenever I bring it up they tell me they are “concerned” or “worried” for me. I honestly think they’re jealous. One of my closest friends has been fighting with her husband for most of quarantine and I feel like she is just projecting her situation onto mine. Another of my friends is single and never gives anyone a chance. I’m kind of mad they aren’t being more supportive of me. I mean, I support their choices. I never tell them what to do. Plus, I found love, in quarantine! I feel really lucky and happy. I don’t see why they can’t be happy for me, too.
My mom has also told me that she thinks this may be happening too fast. I know five months is NOT a long time to know someone, but I feel so close to this guy and I think living together would just make our lives so much easier.
The thing is I know this hasn’t been a “normal” relationship. But nothing is normal right now! If anything knowing I can enjoy myself with this guy while the world is a mess makes me feel even more confident about our future together.
Am I crazy for thinking it’s not too soon to move in together?
We Found Love in a Hopeless Year
Dear We Found Love in a Hopeless Year,
Hey, congratulations! You found some joy in a downright miserable year. I understand why you want the folks who love you to celebrate you. So cheers to you. Congrats on finding a good thing in a very bad moment!
You asked if I think you’re crazy. I don’t think any of us is crazy for wanting to be happy. But I think you’re coming to me because you want reassurance that you may still be making the “right” choice.
Here’s the thing about love and choices. There are no guarantees, and there are seldom clear cut wrong and right choices. Relationships evolve and shift over time. Sometimes they disintegrate into a bubbling puddle of slime. Sometimes they grow into the most gorgeous trees with intertwined branches and dazzling blossoms and shining green leaves.
You’re five months in, so yeah, you’re very much in a place where most people would venture to say that risk-assessment is far more challenging. Maybe that makes them think the wise thing to do is to shrink away, to step back and exercise caution. But I would say love is always a risk. Do it anyway!
I don’t think your friends are as jealous as you imagine. But I do think their “concern” is code for, “You are making choices we would not be comfortable making and that makes us very uncomfortable.” You can’t force your friends to see it your way, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s wasted energy. But you can, perhaps, reflect on the choices they would make and consider how their approaches might benefit you. What might you learn by assessing this situation through their eyes?
Instead of assuming your married friend is just bitter and miserable, consider what you could learn from her experiences. Are things she wishes she knew before quarantine? Are there agreements she would advise you to make or discussions she thinks you should have before you move in with your fabulous new person? It seems to me you have some really great resources at your fingertips, so if you want “support” from the folks who love you most, you’re going to have to start treating them as knowledgeable equals. Stop looking down your nose at them, and start getting curious about the wisdom they might be able to share with you.
It’s true they may just be stubborn and keep telling you your best bet is to wait. And, of course, you could wait. You could observe and measure and plot and plan. You could calculate the odds of him revealing big, startling flaws down the road. And guess what? You could still get it wrong.
Will you work or won’t you? There’s literally only one way to find out. And that’s seeing it through—which you seem very eager to do. So… why not? While so much of our lives are on pause you’ve found a new adventure. It’s calling you and you want to answer that call. I say, pack your bags and dive in!
But—and this is a big but!—there’s one element I really think you ought to think about and it’s a word you used in your letter: Escape.
Do you really want to move in with this person, or do you want to run away from something else? When your roommates were displeased with your choices, did you negotiate boundaries respectfully, or did you simply find comfort in knowing you could leave?
If this person has been a beautiful escape for you, I’m glad. But you need to face the fact that once you move in together he will no longer be your escape. He will be home. He will be reality. He will be the inescapable. That’s not a bad thing and it’s not a good thing. It just is. Relationships change when you don’t have an exit. If you are looking for a permanent vacation from the realities of this world, I have strong doubts that this dude, no matter how wonderful, can honestly offer you that.
He is going to become very, very real once he becomes a part of your home. So think about that. Think about conflict and how you navigate it. Ask him what conflict looks like for him. Think about dishes and laundry, and how clean you’d like to keep your bathroom. Think about bills. Think about all the unsexy stuff that goes into building a life with someone. And if this is still someone you’d like to navigate all that with, you have my blessing.
If you are willing to love someone with your whole heart, if you want to build something new in this devastatingly uncertain world, I absolutely support you in that big brave choice.
And yes, it may all fall apart, but that’s true of any relationship. That’s no reason not to savor all of it while it lasts. Worst-case scenario, you can always go back to the apps!