Lockdown Love: You found love last year – Radar
Love triumphs even in times of corona and social distancing. For these brand new couples, circumstances even played into Cupid’s hands.
Jana and Menno both live in Brussels and came into contact through a mutual friend. During the first ban, they spoke daily via WhatsApp: “I was sitting with ten men in my brother’s house in France when everything was blocked,” says Menno Brumagne (25). “Our ski vacation fell apart, but neither of us wanted to return home. We were there with friends and didn’t have to see other people – nobody wanted to be alone in their own room. ‘A mutual friend gave Menno Jana’s number at the time, and so he also sent her his first message from France: “Teledate?” “Before I knew it, we had talked for hours about the youngster,” laughs Jana Goyvaerts (25). “It’s a shame that we have to go to sleep,” I wrote at one o’clock in the morning and then chatted for another hour. I’m usually allergic to online conversations and turn off push notifications as often as possible so I rarely read messages right away. When Menno made contact, however, a normal social life was no longer possible. That certainly contributed to our intense WhatsApp traffic. We could both use some distraction. “Safe cocoon The same week that Menno returned in mid-April, the first meeting followed: a bike appointment in Brussels with a drink on a park bench. “Not exactly by the rules, but we all had our own cups and were as far apart as we could,” says Jana. “My roommate was about to move, but she also had contact with a patient at risk through her boyfriend’s father. I had to promise her before that date that I would take no chances and keep my distance. Not that I found it that easy. When my girlfriend left later that week, I rode my bike to Menno’s home and stayed there for two days (laughs). “We were lucky that we had a long structure, a safe cocoon in which we could concentrate and slowly grow together without all kinds of social obligations and other activities,” says Menno. “Everything would have gone faster if we could have a drink immediately,” replies Jana. “Now everything was very old-fashioned: we carefully went one step further each time. For a long time I tried to tell myself that we didn’t really know each other, that our contact was mostly virtual, but each step only confirmed my feeling that it was right. “Dancing Together Nine months later, they’re hard to beat from each other,” says Menno. “With the exception of the summer months, our freedom of movement was restricted, but the circumstances made it possible for us to spend more time together than usual. The temporary relaxation also allowed us to meet each other’s parents and good friends – so Covid-19 had little impact on that. The only thing that was completely missing was the contact with our larger circle of friends and acquaintances and the strong going out. Going dancing together, a crazy evening in a café with Jana and a few friends – I miss that enormously. We dance a lot at home, but it’s not the same (laughs). At the same time, I have no illusions: Without Jana I would be trapped in depressive feelings and it would certainly be more difficult for me to stick to the rules. “Being together is not much in itself, emphasizes Jana. “The actual relationship test is still pending when everything is restarted and we can do other things again. We both have busy lives with work, hobbies and a large group of friends – we have to puzzle to find time for each other and then to fit into each other’s life. Not that I’m afraid: We have many friends in common, the same interests – I can’t wait to discover new things together. «Anke and Lore had lived in the same house in Antwerp for nine months, but – corona oblige – only found each other at the beginning of August having a drink with some neighbors in the community garden. “My previous relationship was cracked before the first lockdown in March,” says Lore Van Duppen, 26. “After that we tried for a while, but in the meantime we had so much time to sort things out that a breakup was inevitable. In the months that followed, I absolutely didn’t think about a new relationship – let alone a neighbor (laughs). “For Anke Truyers (26), a relationship at the beginning of August was also not a priority. As a single I enjoyed my freedom, especially after the relief that the first ban came. Up until that moment, I was doing many things at once, and the opportunity to come to myself for a moment was a surprise. I certainly wasn’t lonely: As the founder of Genderspectrum, a non-profit organization for non-binary and transsexual people, I always had an online community that counted on me and offered me support at the same time. “” One before going to bed If Corona brought them together, it was mainly because the epidemic brought the residents of their house closer together, say Lore and Anke. “The neighbors who had a beer outside together didn’t happen before,” says Anke. “But at the beginning of August, in the middle of the heat wave, it was once so nice that we could see people in our shared front yard and enjoy a bit of summer feeling.” When the province of Antwerp introduced a curfew, Lore also looked for the group of neighbors in the garden. “I had a crush on Anke before, but we didn’t know each other at all. The fact that we had met once was only due to the first ban, as we were more at home during the day and were already walking in the neighborhood. ““ The drink with the neighbors led to a “last beer”. private and the first kiss that same evening. “I drank a lot,” laughs Anke, “that didn’t make social distancing easier. The strange thing is that I was very reluctant and cautious on other dates in the spring. None of this was the case with Lore. Everything just happened by itself, as if it had to be. “The good life you took full advantage of later in the summer, says Lore. “We had to be a little creative and have a picnic in the park, for example, but a lot was still possible back then. That way we could do a few terraces with friends and go for a walk with our parents. We both love the good life – so just before the second lockdown we went to a restaurant and then to a cafe. “” I really asked Lore out on a date, “says Anke. “When you live in the same building, the temptation to take a leisurely tour is even greater. It can all be very cozy and nice, but to get to know each other you also need other activities and appointments. Dinner in a restaurant or both in your pajamas on the couch: Then you talk about other things and ask completely different questions. “Gratitude The second ban cannot be over quickly enough for you, says Anke. “There’s not much you can do outside in the evenings to watch TV and play board games – then you sometimes wonder if you won’t bore the other person. Although I must immediately add that we also have a lot of fun together and always know how to cheer each other up. Lore often makes me smile and also gives me a sense of security – that’s so good in these dark winter months. “” I’m very grateful that I met you, “Lore replies. “I would be anyway, but more so now. Someone to be there for you, someone to support you, it makes everything a lot easier. “Femke and Steven met on Tinder in mid-March, after which the country was banned almost immediately.” There were barely two days between our match and the lockdown, ”says Femke Van Geyte (28) from Erembodegem. “I installed the app on my mobile phone on Tuesday, we talked on Wednesday and everything changed on Friday evening.” The two of them sent each other messages throughout the month, but at the beginning of April Femke had noticed: “Unimportant car journeys were forbidden, but luckily I was able to get to Steven in Erpe by bike. All of those text messaging was fun, but at some point it won’t be enough. I wanted to look Steven in the eye and see if we really clicked. “Walking Conversations” Our first encounters were forced walking dates, “says Steven Verbustel (27).” Because I live with my parents and didn’t want to endanger them, we kept each other a meter apart, but at least we did Besides, it wasn’t all that strange: the circumstances were special, but we just continued our WhatsApp conversation. ”“ What played a role is that I’m in preschool and Steven in secondary, ”says Femke . “Our job has changed from one day to the next, so it’s nice to tell your story to someone who understands you. There in Erpe we also passed places that brought all sorts of anecdotes about his childhood and family Steven could have told me otherwise, but now I could get an idea straight away. “In retrospect, she couldn’t have imagined a better scenario, admits Femke.” These hiking dates were ideal for us In the restaurant you are never really alone and the conversation is soon interrupted by the cell phone, which is often on the table. While a pleasant date depends entirely on communication: what you have to say to each other and how the other reacts to it. “Small milestones Partly due to the circumstances, the first kiss didn’t occur until the beginning of June during a trip to Pairi Daiza. This summer Femke and Steven met each other’s parents. “Out of caution towards our families and colleagues, everything went a little slower, but that wasn’t bad,” emphasizes Femke. “Instead of getting in straight away and only then asking ourselves whether we really want it, we had no choice but to first establish a relationship of trust. That means that as a couple we have solid foundations. “For me, all of our first activities together were so special,” says Steven. “Going out for dinner, a day trip: All of a sudden, all of these became big strides for our relationship, simply because they weren’t possible before. As a result, I now appreciate everyday things like shopping together a little more. Otherwise I might have taken them for granted, now they seem like half milestones. “Going to the cinema together hasn’t happened yet, explains Femke, and traveling together for a week is all a matter of the future. “Right now we are reviewing our options day by day according to the rules, trying not to make too many plans. After all, they still fall into the water for the same amount of money. In any case, we are spoiled: we have each other, we have already had many wonderful moments together – let’s concentrate on that instead of looking at everything we can’t. ‘