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Sex & Love Love in times of corona: breakups

May. 6, 2020
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In this time of constant uncertainty, relationships are hard. While gathering these breakup stories, I encountered way more positivity than I’d expected. The girls who spoke to me had benefited from being alone.

Although the three stories are deeply different, they’re all about women who have had a chance to really look at their relationships retrospectively and tune in with themselves and their needs. Although breakups hurt and isolation can drive anyone crazy, it’s amazing to see how being alienated can help a person heal from a broken heart.

Stuck at his parents’ house

We met last year. He was a good friend of my best friend’s boyfriend, and we were drawn to each other but tried to not show it for a little while. The sexual tension built up, and we finally hooked up last summer. To be honest, it was never my intention to turn this into a relationship, but due to some family emergency I had to fly out to Italy, where he was staying at the time. His family invited me over and we ended up spending the rest of that summer together, which turned out to be quite an adventure. 

Right from the beginning our relationship was a rollercoaster, but we managed to face many obstacles by working on figuring out solutions together. Still, it was very difficult at times. Before the lockdown we lived at my house and then decided to move to his parents’ because they invited us over and there was more space there. We were at a good place in our relationship, and I was excited to stay with him. I really thought we could find some peace there. 

The first week we stayed there, he snapped. His mental health hadn’t been great, and being with his father only made it worse. That’s when he decided to move out and stay over at friends’ houses. During the quarantine. During corona. 

I freaked out, but I couldn’t do anything about it. He left me behind at his parents’ house. I spent ages contacting all his friends and trying to persuade them to tell him to come back and stay with us. Through them, he told me I wasn’t helping him and that I’d done enough.

Honestly, that opened my eyes. I couldn’t change him, and I couldn’t help him if he didn’t want to be helped. A relationship isn’t something he could handle. Although this was sad for me to realize, I managed to do the responsible thing and stay. I took care of myself.

Now, I feel weirdly relieved. At first things seemed strange, but his family likes me and there’s no awkwardness between us. Being stuck in isolation at my ex’s parents’ house right after our breakup is obviously a WTF situation—but thanks to these trippy circumstances, I’m not completely alone and heartbroken. It’s been a blessing in disguise.

Thanks to the company of his family and the peace I’ve found during isolation, I don’t really miss him anymore. For now I want to focus on myself. Sometimes it’s tough, but then I just sit on my skateboard sipping beer and looking at the sunset. And then I feel good.

A liberating lockdown 

Everything was super organic between us. The very first time we met we slept together, and our relationship was instantly passionate. At first we weren’t exclusive, but since we kept meeting, texting, sexting, and sleeping over at each other’s places, we created our own little nest and became a couple. 

We broke up in February. Since I moved to university, he’d become jealous, possessive, and stubborn. I started losing myself, changing my mind and doubting myself constantly. Looking back, I can see our values had changed and my open-mindedness was colliding with his stubbornness. 

The lockdown happened two weeks after the breakup, and I’ve been stuck at my parents’ house. To be perfectly honest, I feel lost when I think about love, sex, and relationships—so I’m taking quarantine to figure out what I want. Ending this relationship is something I’m proud of. It was toxic, anxiety-inducing, and saddening. But now I feel good. I feel loved. 

After six years of our relationship, I’ve managed to detach myself faster than I ever dreamed possible. So honestly merci, quarantine, because thanks to this isolation I’ve managed to find myself.

Doing double okay

He was the boy my best friend told me not to get with. But I did, and we ended up staying together for four years. Although there was no healthy equilibrium in our relationship, I must say the good times (which, to be honest, constantly alternated with really shitty times) are up there on my list of the best things I’ve ever experienced. The way we laughed, danced, and looked at each other will always stay in my memory and affect me profoundly. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes and I know it’s probably because we broke up just a bit ago, but what can I say—it was my first love and it feels like a big deal. And it simply is a big deal for me, at least right now. 

I broke up with him during the lockdown. We don’t live in the same country and for the past year we were in a long-distance relationship, which in practice translated to an on-and-off situation. When quarantine started, I was texting him as much as before and since we rarely saw each other anyways I didn’t feel like our relationship was particularly affected. Looking back maybe something changed for him; maybe with all this time on his hands he realized I wasn’t his priority anymore. Who knows. He stopped texting me, and he acted like I was always breaking his balls when I wanted to call him. With all this time to think, I started spiraling, alternating between self-blame and feeling like he was being unfair. 

After a few long days of this, I started really questioning what I wanted. I was tired of the emotional rollercoaster of being with him. One day he wouldn’t stop texting me, throwing fits if I didn’t respond for a few hours. Then he could ignore me for days. It was fucking scary, but I finally found it in me to break up.

At first it didn’t change anything. After all, he hadn’t been speaking to me for the past few weeks and we live apart. But, of course, after a few days doubt started sinking in. Sometimes I feel like shit and want to cry. I still have the images of us dancing together, holding hands until 5 AM. I remember when we told each other we loved each other for the first time. It hurts, and I know it’ll hurt for a little longer. 

During the lockdown there isn’t much to do, so I can’t distract myself as much from what I feel. But maybe that’s a good thing. Normally I’d probably be trying to convince myself that everything is fine. But now I have all this time to unpack what I really want and why I didn’t want him to be a part of my life anymore.

Illustration by Katie Buckleitner for Cosmopolitan