The coronavirus pandemic has made dating and searching for love nearly impossible for area singles.
Two Lynn residents recently shared their dating stories with The Item.
Lisa is a 47-year-old widow “who found love in Coronaville.” She is the mother of three; her husband died in a car accident 11 years ago. She met Amesbury resident Bruce, also a father of three, in January on the Plenty of Fish free online dating app. They had a couple of dates before the social distancing and quarantine orders began. Lisa, who is activities director at a local nursing home, had tried online dating before, “But there was never a connection like Bruce and me.”
She and Bruce started talking, and chats soon became a daily thing, then more than once a day. They made a date to meet, which he canceled because he had to look after his 6-year-old twins. He reconsidered, got a babysitter, and they met in person for the first time at Bertucci’s in North Andover. Sparks flew from the start. They sat at the bar, interacted with others, shared a lot of laughs, and had a great time.
After that, they spent time together every weekend “hanging out,” sharing a meal at Choate Bridge Pub in Ipswich, and meeting or Facetime.
Here is Lisa’s story:
“After eight years of dating, I finally met a man whom I wanted to spend time with. Every free moment we spent together, getting to know each other better. After a couple of weeks he told me he was going to spend his life with me and we would be married for ’46 years’ (that’s our thing). Things were moving quickly, but we’re not kids and if it feels right we should just keep going! I love him, too.
“In February, we started hearing about corona and dangers for our elderly, those who are immune-compromised, but no worries yet. We continued to be with each other every moment we could, three, four, five days a week.
“I continued working at the nursing home and was hearing more about this virus. I have my father, who’s 71 years young, my youngest child and my new boyfriend who has a heart condition.
“In early April, we were the only nursing home on the North Shore without COVID. I’m feeling OK, still being safe and really falling for my boyfriend, Bruce. We are making plans for family get-togethers and a vacation, talking about a future together. My birthday weekend was AMAZING; he really treated me like a queen and I feel love that I haven’t felt since my husband passed. We are soul mates, so many things in common.
“His birthday was April 21st and we spent the weekend before celebrating together in lockdown. I didn’t know that was the last time I’d be with him.
“I went back to work to hear one staff member and one resident (tested positive) for COVID. My whole world changed. We were all to be tested. I thought, ‘OK, I’ll stay in isolation away from my family and new boyfriend until I get results in a week and everything will be fine. … My test came back inconclusive, but now it’s all hands on deck at work. Bruce and I figured we could Facetime until things quieted down. I put my all into my job … isolating myself in my bedroom, away from everyone I love. I’m starting to feel sick. I’m sacrificing my son, dad and new boyfriend.
“Bruce has been amazing, understanding and a true friend to talk to after the long days of physical and emotional pain. I really want him to hold me and be lost in the bliss, but I can’t. … I needed to know if I’m positive, I got tested and sure enough, I’ve got COVID. (She isolated in her bedroom for the required period.)
“Last week I spent all of my time on Facetime with Bruce and it’s killing us not to be together. … I have this amazing man I finally found and I don’t know if or when I can see him again. I have to go back to a job that puts me at high risk and my heart is breaking that this relationship may have to end because of COVID-19.”
Lisa, who declined to name the nursing home, has returned to work.
“I knew my job was high-risk. My dad, 71, has health issues. Bruce has a heart condition. I called him and said, “I’m isolating myself in my bedroom. If I get sick, I don’t want you to infect you.’ It was a scary time.”
They talk on Facetime every day. The two haven’t been together since April 19. “I can’t see him. It’s hard. But we chat all day long; it’s almost like he’s in the room with me. Every day it kills me that i can’t see him, that we can’t be together. I’m so afraid to take a chance. There are so many unknowns.”
Ernie is a 53-year-old divorced man “in the midst of the dating game.” He is an advertising sales director.
Here is Ernie’s story:
“I read about families spending more time together due to the COVID-19 virus. It makes me a bit jealous, being a 53-year-old divorcé in the midst of the dating game. It’s funny how they call it a game, because sometimes I feel as if it is.
“And now with the introduction of COVID-19, I have to say, like Al Pacino, “Fuhgettaboutit.” There’s a word for it …oh ya, dryspell, big time. No walks on the beach, no going to dinner, no long drive up the coast. Nothing but phone calls, texting and something I just discovered, Facetime.
“I was a guy that always pursued the pretty ones, the sexy ones, the ones for which mother would not approve of. I found myself not giving others the opportunity or time that I should in order to get to know them. Friends would say, ‘She’s perfect for you’ and I’d say “She’s fat” or “Are you crazy.”
“In March, I met two different women around the same time. I was lucky to take each of them out before COVID came to town. One was a knockout and the other was cute and nice. … After the one date, I continued to chat with both, maybe three times a week. Both were concerned about COVID and did not think it a good idea for the two of us to have physical contact. I was willing to risk it. LOL. Losing that argument, it was phone calls and texting, that’s all.
“But something unique was happening. I was beginning to find the cute one more attractive. … I found myself wanting to talk to her more. Did it take COVID to make me less shallow? Did it take COVID to educate me on what’s really important? Did it take COVID to slow me down?
“At age 53, I find it so interesting how someone’s personality can make them more attractive. The cute, nice one is still in my life and we talk all the time. She’s my only focus. … We’ll see where this goes.”
Jennifer Nakhai, founder-owner of Lynn-based Aeon Counseling & Consulting, offers online counseling for couples. Her firm is licensed to work in 18 states; there are eight practitioners on her staff. Nakhai aired a podcast, discussing “Quarantine Dating” during the first week of the lockdown, with relationship coach Judith Jameson of Middleton. It’s on the company’s website.
Her thoughts on finding love during the pandemic:
“Finding a person who’s a good match isn’t easy. Staying at home mandates have made it tougher. People are meant to be together. We want to meet to get a truer sense of how they are in person.
“We have a primal need for attachment. Nobody wants to be alone. People are scared. But take time to get to know someone. It’s not a good idea to move too fast. Some people are thinking, ‘What if I get COVID-19 and I don’t make it. I don’t want to be alone.’
“It’s an interesting time. It’s either ‘Yes! I want to meet new people but not in person’ or risking it by rushing out and putting each other in danger.
“How do you focus on a relationship, with all that’s going on. People want a partner, whether it’s romantic or platonic.
“For couples stuck at home, it’s important to schedule time for yourself but also time with your partner. We’re trying to take care of ourselves but always come back to the relationship. We’re moving and shaking all the time. Eating better, meditating, spending times with friends by hosting a Zoom party are all good.
“This is not the time to go to people’s houses at night. Get to know someone online. ‘Oh my God. You were there for me during coronavirus. Let’s get married’ is not a responsible choice.”