Eight pandemic love stories
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we rounded up some stories for all you hopeless romantics out there.
Despite lockdowns and other mandates, many people around the world found their person in the past months or fell more in love with their partners — as their relationships were put to the test during an intense quarantine. We at KCM asked our audience for these love stories, and you, our readers, delivered. Read some of the rom-com-worthy submissions below…
“The West Village was still pretty desolate at the end of May. So, when a guy with a backpack and an N-95 mask came walking towards me down Bleeker Street, I was sure it was my Hinge date: Ed.
We’d planned to meet at Murray’s Mac and Cheese bar, given how our shared love for that particular comfort food had emerged in our first few conversations on the Hinge app. Looking back, cheese was a wise choice for a first date at a time that was anything but comfortable. We were in the heat of the pandemic; doomscrolling had become a national hobby. I had spent considerable time that morning fretting over what ‘cute’ mask to wear that would also be safe enough for a subway trip. It had been a long time since either of us had interacted with anyone outside our families.
We each ordered burrata and carried our containers to a park bench nearby. Well, two benches. How close should we sit? Was I sweating through my mask? It was hot and we needed to eat, so those masks would have to come off, caution be dammed. His N-95 left red lines on his cheeks as he carefully removed it. And then, for the first time, I saw his smile, and I melted like the gooey burrata on my fork.
The unsettling pandemic summer was a strangely beautiful time to get to know someone. We rollerbladed next to the Hudson, on a path devoid of city tourists. We got “walktails” (to-go cocktails) and took them to the beach. We strolled through Midtown, eating ice cream — marveling at the emptiness while sidestepping broken glass left over from the June protests.
There were no loud bars to go to, or drunk friends to contend with, so we got to know each other in a more sensitive way. It would be weeks before we’d even kiss — because kissing was no longer something you could just do with anyone.
So many things have changed, but there’s one thing that hasn’t: every time he takes off his mask, I melt. And I remember that burrata, and the way we fell in love while everything else seemed to be falling apart. – Brittany, New York City
“My fiancé and I had been together for about one-and-a-half years and had been living together for about nine months when the pandemic started. Our story is a little different than some: We have been best friends for a while. When I was going through a divorce from my high school sweetheart, I was diagnosed with Stage Four cancer. My best friend instantly became my caregiver and we fell in love along the way! Neither of us had ever been with a girl before so it was new.
After being in lockdown for two weeks, doctors found a small tumor in my left lung. We scheduled surgery to remove it two days later. Going to a hospital at the start of the pandemic was pretty terrifying. Thankfully, the surgery was successful and showed no evidence of disease.
We hunkered down. During this intense time together, our love grew immensely. We knew we wanted to be together forever and being stuck at home only solidified that. I couldn’t wait to ask this woman to be my wife. I spent weeks planning the perfect proposal — even enlisting the help of my kindergarten students.
During quarantine, we shopped for houses and finally found our dream home. On our last night in the place we spent most of the pandemic, I asked my beautiful girlfriend if she would be my wife…and she said yes!! We moved into our new space and continue to fall more in love each day.
It’s not always easy, but we always have each other. The pandemic has been so devastating in so many ways, but it has also brought some light into our lives. Love is love is love!” – Courtney, Texas
“My husband and the love of my life, Kevin, died 12 years ago from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Over the last three to four years I’ve dated via Match.com. Even though I enjoyed dating, ‘the one’ did not appear. I am a fun, interesting person, so I decided to give up on online dating.
But, in typical fashion, one last man contacted me – and I didn’t think it would hurt to talk to him. Al and I talked a few times and we decided to meet this past September. Al is from Philadelphia and a true Eagles football fan; I’m from Pittsburgh and a diehard Steelers fan. So I suggested we both show up to the first date in our favorite Eagles/Steelers fan wear. We even met at a Pittsburgh owned sports bar.
Before the end of the date, I asked the waitress if the Steelers/Eagles game would be on the TV that Sunday. She said, ‘yes,’ so I suggested Al and I meet on Sunday. ‘Loser pays,’ I said. Well, Al paid (Eagles lost) and the fun began. Amid Covid-19, we became part of each other’s bubble. He taught me how to play poker, and made me his Italian mom’s special spaghetti sauce. He helped me with the 700 cookies I make every year at Christmas, and I taught him the card game, ‘Garbage.’ We ‘make out’ on the couch – how many 68/69-year-olds do you know who do that? We have plans to meet each other’s families.
Life is good. He gave me a Steelers game shirt with my name on it for Christmas. I gave him a mug printed with ‘Covid Card Club – Al and Peggie – est. October 2020.’ We’re so thankful we met and have worked hard to stay entertained during the pandemic. We’ve seen it as an adventure.” — Peggie, Michigan
“From the day Eli and I met, we knew the search was over. We matched on Bumble on Sept. 13, and went on our first three dates (we planned one date and just kept finding more things to do because…well…love), on Sept. 14.
I live in L.A. and in March, Eli moved to North Carolina for work. We planned to indefinitely have a long-distance relationship, flying cross country to make it work. As the country started to shut down and rumors of a closed LAX loomed, I packed a carry-on suitcase for a two-week trip and flew to North Carolina. We rented a log cabin and committed to learning how to cook. I ended up staying much longer than the original two weeks I had planned for.
On May 22, Eli asked if I wanted to go on a sunrise hike to which I promptly and emphatically said, ‘No, thanks.’ The next morning, we drove to the local gardens to play frisbee. On our walk, we popped into a magnolia tree canopy, and Eli asked the question to which I promptly and emphatically said, ‘YES, PLEASE.’ Since then, we have gotten a dog, found a new home, and not planned a single wedding thing.
Being engaged during a pandemic has been equal parts beautiful, exciting, and heartrending. Knowing that we have each other keeps us grounded in the present and focused on the future.” — Paige, North Carolina
“I had been on exactly one date with Hugh before we moved in together. Let me explain. Two delayed flights, a spilled coffee, and a lost bag later, I arrived at the Philadelphia airport. It was March of 2020 — the world was falling apart, and I was too.
My phone was exploding with news notifications, each bearing a more dismal fate than the last. There he was. Hugh, waiting for me. We had gone on our first date just a few weeks prior, back in the ‘normal times.’ Hugh and I had been friends for a year and a half, and I had been in love with him for a year and a half. He, however, hadn’t decided that he was in love with me until we went on our first date: a French restaurant on Valentine’s Day. A bold choice, I know.
Our new reality left us with a decision to make. What were people who are in the more-than-friends-but-still-figuring-it-out phase supposed to do in the midst of a pandemic? The next morning, we were back in the airport on a last-minute flight to Chicago to see my family. With just a carry-on bag of clothes, we locked ourselves into my family home for the next several months.
Navigating a newly romantic relationship with a friend is precarious, especially when it’s forced to blossom in the confines of a mandated quarantine. We fell into a routine — going on walks, experimenting with TikTok recipes, binging crappy shows, reading great books. It was idyllic and strange, as if we were playing house. Although everything was wonderful, I worried that our love story would end just as quickly as it began.
Yet, I was wrong. As it turns out, an abnormal plotline was exactly what our relationship needed. We learned how many cups of coffee the other one needs in the morning, when we needed to take a moment to ourselves, and what buttons not to push. By pressing fast-forward , we were able to jump right into the crux of what matters in a relationship. I never imagined moving in with someone after a first date, but now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” — Lili, Illinois
“While the pandemic rages on and we have lost so many to this terrible virus I feel so fortunate for the opportunity it gave me to be with the man I love.
Todd and I have been friends for three years. We met through our love of sailing — but he was not the type of person I normally dated. Thanks to quarantine and ‘bubbles,’ we were able to spend time as a small racing crew and had the opportunity to get to know each other better. This week, we celebrate our five-month anniversary and I count myself very lucky.” — Lisa, New York
“I am a widow. My husband passed suddenly in March 2018. We ran a business together, so our lives were intertwined 24/7. Everything changed in an instant. At 59, I felt too young to be a widow and robbed of our years together, but I vowed I would move forward. Scott certainly would have wanted it that way.
After a few years, I decided to move back to my hometown of Baltimore. I wanted to move closer to siblings (I am a twin), and be in a larger metropolitan area. Plus, my goal for 2020 was to meet new people, mostly friends. I did do all of this very early in 2020, and then, yep, pandemic. Shutdown.
So, there I was, in my newly renovated condo, by myself. By the end of May, but I decided to go on an online dating site. I wasn’t ready before and now, well, now seemed like a good time to just look, right?
After a very short time, I saw someone that kind of spoke to me. He’s a twin (cool, like me!). He graduated from Loyola in Baltimore, (again, like me), and he admitted loved ABBA (wow, like Scott). So, I sent a message about the ABBA love, and we began talking. After many hours on the phone, it was clear we had a connection. We decided to meet at his golf club on a Saturday night. It was safe, because it was outdoors and not crowded. We sat for hours on a glorious evening, just talking. It was the first time in a few years I felt joy in having someone special to talk to.
Throughout the summer we continued to meet up at the golf course. We realized this was something special. In the fall, my birthday approached, and Greg surprised me (kinda) with an engagement ring. We both realize that we are not spring chickens, and know that our love for each other brought us out of a dark chapter and towards a new beginning.
As a widow, you really become a part of a new club where you don’t want to be a member. I know I have journeyed through this part of my life to a place where I could recognize something so wonderful, Greg, around something so awful (Covid).” – Marilyn , Maryland
“I had just turned 30 when Covid-19 hit, and I moved from NYC back in with my parents to a tiny seasonal town of about 6,000 people. I’d gone through a breakup a few months before and was resigned to the fact that maybe I’d just become a spinster. In May, a friend of mine who also happened to be back in town invited me to a very small outdoor gathering (and I mean very small…six people!) to meet her friend Liz, who was my age and who she thought I’d get along with. Well, Liz brought her little brother…and that’s how I met Alex.
I asked him for his number and texted him almost immediately, asking if he’d like to ‘get a drink someday on opposite sides of a park bench.’ He replied, ‘I’ll bring two cups and a string.’ We’ve been inseparable ever since. He is kind and patient, and I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through this past year without him. After kissing quite a few frogs in the big city, I’m still floored that I found the man of my dreams in a tiny little town while living with my parents.” – Emily, KCM Senior Producer, Massachusetts
These stories were edited and condensed.