Love in the time of coronavirus: 3 Russian stories

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A date in the woods, a walk in the park under the watchful gaze of police, tea time with masks and gloves... the things these Russians did for love.

Petr Kozyubenko, 31, energy sector specialist, Murmansk

I was bored to death, surfing Tinder and swiping through all these girls without much interest. Then I saw her: hazel eyes, dark curly hair. I was hooked immediately and swiped right. The feeling was mutual, because we immediately matched, and for some reason, I thought she must be the one. 

A simple “Privet, kak dela?” started off our conversation, which ended with us discussing the quarantine and other travesties you encounter in life. We had this immediate chemistry, it’s hard to describe. After three days, it became clear that I really wanted to meet her in person, so I asked her out. 

There weren’t many places to meet - all the cafes are still closed, other entertainment venues as well. It was also snowing, but she took the initiative and invited me to her place. Only on the condition that I observe the social distancing guidelines and other precautions. There wasn’t much to do, so I put my mask and gloves on, bought some flowers and went over to her place.

As was the rule, she sat a meter and a half from me. We were like idiots, sitting at opposite ends of a small kitchen, lifting our masks to sip coffee, but talking about everything in the world. And I felt completely at ease with her, I didn’t even care about the pandemic. It was like all of life’s worries had taken a back seat.

We had five dates over the course of the week, chatting for days on end, watching movies and playing board games, and I was never bored. In about a week, I couldn’t hold it in anymore, and proposed that we start dating properly. She happily agreed. 

We’re still figuring each other out, but I’m hoping for the best!

Yuliya Gribkova, 33, PR, В2В project manager, Moscow

We were celebrating a friend’s birthday in late March. It was a joyous evening, given that we were all going against the government’s guidelines on self-isolation. Of course, at the time, no one knew how things would transpire, or was really freaked out by the prospect of a house party. 

That’s when I met him - smart, handsome, the full package, we clicked immediately. There was a spark, we swapped numbers, and started chatting on Zoom and other online places pretty soon after that. A week later we decided to go out on a date. 

The parks were already closed at the time, so he just came over to my area to hang out. You didn’t have to wear masks or gloves yet, but we still caught some stern gazes from passing police, who could easily have asked us for our IDs, but thankfully, this didn’t happen.

After the walk, we decided to go back to mine, as we were both hungry. We ordered burgers via an app.

These days, we meet at either of our places, usually. We both read a lot and discuss literature - he turned out to be an avid reader and an intelligent man. We were discussing [social psychologist] Erich Fromm just the other day.

It hasn’t been a very easy year for me at all - a divorce, a change of work and a move. So, when self-isolation rules came into place, I was, jokingly, asking myself the question: “How hard would it be to find a husband during lockdown?”

As it turns out, life doesn’t end during isolation, and miracles - as the saying goes - must be achieved with your own hands. 

No one knows what awaits us after a corner. Wedding offices aren’t working at the moment, and an engagement ring is hard to come by. Let’s see how things develop, and what happens at the end of summer. Then again, you could get married now - it’s not like anyone would notice - and save on an expensive wedding reception and rings. You can’t see anything under a medical glove anyway.

Olga Maksimova, 30, network marketing specialist, Murmansk

He wrote to me first, after finding me on his friend’s friend list - a typical social network hookup. I don’t usually do these things online - especially as I have a child that takes up all of my time. But I was feeling really despondent at the time, probably due to the pandemic, so I responded. One word to the next, and we were at it for hours, talking about everything and nothing at once.

He attracted me with his modesty, a happy predisposition and a love of reading. I immediately felt that I was talking to a soulmate. Not a typical situation for me. 

Our conversations lasted for two or three weeks before he asked me out. Instead of the usual movie or restaurant, we decided to have a picnic in the woods, not far from our homes. The snow hadn’t melted entirely yet, so we laid out the food on a big flat stone. We didn’t observe any social distancing guidelines, unless you count the hand sanitizer before eating.

It was a sunny day and we spent four hours talking about what we wanted to be as children, family and about life. We understood in a couple of days that we didn’t want to be apart, so we started living together. Strangely enough, my son reacted calmly to the change, and my boyfriend never objected either. 

Our relationship is still only a month old. It’s hard to tell what will come of it, but we are still looking in the same direction and understanding each other with barely a word said. It doesn’t mean we have an ideal life - we also have misunderstandings and small fights, but we’re learning to accept each other together with our flaws. I hope that what we have outlasts the pandemic, and our relationship grows even stronger.

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