Love & Relationships

What I Learned Dating During A Pandemic

How did you meet?

It’s been 3 years since we met. We both work in the same area, so we’d been watching each other for a while. He’d probably give you a slightly different story, but I saw him watching me, too! He’s a tall guy, well-dressed, and real easy on the eyes, so he’s hard to miss. I had seen him a couple times in passing and he always had a very serious face. I think that’s what initially intrigued me about him – I was curious about what was under the stony exterior.

So, I did what any single woman would do, right?! I prayed about him. I said God, “I don’t know why I’m so captivated by this stranger, but I’m telling You about him. If he means me no good, let him keep it

Two weeks later, as I’m sitting in my car getting ready to leave work for the day, he walks straight up to my window, serious face and all, and asks me how I’m doing, and if he could get my number to talk a little more. For as much as I liked to admire this man from afar, and had already prayed about him, this encounter caught me way off guard! In that moment, I had already stopped breathing, so it was only by the Grace of God that words audibly uttered from my lips!

After a brief few minutes, I finally knew his name and exactly where he worked. To top it off, he smiled! And it was such a nice smile!

The next day, we had our very first date, and we’ve been dating ever since.

What stood out about him that makes him different?

Well, initially, his physical appearance is what stood out. He’s really hard to miss and will stand out in just about any crowd, but after getting to know him a bit and dating for as long as we have, it’s his love for family, commitment to always bettering himself in some way, and his consistency that stands out.

He’s a family guy, and that’s one of my favorite things about him. It’s a plus that he’s gelled so well with my (huge) family from the very beginning – admittedly a little shy and reserved at first, but everybody is great with him now.

I have never had someone be so consistent in their love and stick around when it wasn’t easy or didn’t feel good.

From Day 1, he has been consistent with the way he’s treated me. We have definitely had disagreements along the way, and have had to express our likes and dislikes, but I have never had someone be so consistent in their love and stick around when it wasn’t easy or didn’t feel good.

Very early on in our relationship, some things happened in my life that could have very well been mere coincidence, but for one situation in particular, I chose to believe for years that this one thing that I struggled so badly to complete, would change when the right person came into my life. Sure enough, only months after this man came along, my situation turned around and I was finally able to close that chapter. Little does he know, a lot of it had to do with a simple declaration he unknowingly spoke over me.

I don’t necessarily believe in luck, but I absolutely believe in divine purpose, and I knew he came into my life with a special purpose. He challenges me in ways that make me better and forces me to introspect every day of my life just by being the person he is.

I think a lot of women imagine a perfect guy in their minds and assume once you get the right one, a smooth relationship is inevitable…but that’s definitely not how it works.

If I’m being completely honest, he didn’t turn out to be the fairytale I managed to concoct in the beginning. I think a lot of women imagine a perfect guy in their minds and assume once you get the right one, a smooth relationship is inevitable (especially after having so many “situationships” end badly), but that is definitely not how it works. It takes work. Every meaningful relationship requires time and effort from both parties. He’s not exactly what I imagined he’d be but he’s what I needed, and I thank him always for loving me the way he does.

What personality traits are important in a man and to you specifically?

Someone who believes in God, is morally grounded and kind-hearted, family oriented, and has vision/direction.

In the beginning of our relationship, I’ll admit that I wasn’t entirely sold on the latter point. I am the textbook definition of “independent woman” and had been on my own and completely self-sufficient for a long time, so I was used to things being organized, well planned out and moving at my pace – on time. My boyfriend, however, is quite the opposite – he’s not a planner, he’s very relaxed when it comes to timeframes for a lot of things and is more of a ‘go with the flow’ kind of person.

As I’m sure you can imagine, we have had our share of clashes because of this, but we’re learning ways to work together. This isn’t just my show, so when I remove my need to have things go my way and simply be the help or extra push he needs, I can see that he is, in fact, a great leader and I trust that he will do an excellent job at heading our family one day. This also means that if I’m in charge of planning any event we’re attending, I know to give him the start time at least 30 minutes to an hour ahead, along with constant reminders leading up to the date in order to maintain my sanity and avoid ruining the entire day because I’m completely annoyed. It’s all a work in progress.

How has the relationship changed you / is changing you?

This relationship has certainly been a mirror for me, and to tell you the truth, I don’t always like the reflection I see because it very clearly highlights areas of my life that I still need to work on. It gets
uncomfortable at times, but it’s necessary. He challenges me every single day – to the point where I’m sometimes annoyed – but I’m grateful for all of it.

What have you learned through the dating process?

Our relationship has been tested a couple times – one time in particular, was during this pandemic. Because of the industry I work in, and nature of my company, my job has been notably impacted since the onset of COVID-19. More specifically, I’ve only been getting a portion of my salary for the past 14 months. Listen to me, never in all my 33 years of life could I have imagined being in such a situation… for so long! It’s been frustrating, depressing, and irritating to say the least, but this man has stuck with me through it all, buying me groceries and anything else I fell short on, dealing with my mood swings, and supporting every business idea that I created to make extra cash.

At one point, we decided it would be nice to stay together since we were locked down for so long, so I invited him over. Listen, the fact that our relationship still stands is a testament to the goodness of God! Sure, we’d already been dating for about 2 years, but this was absolutely next level!

Again, I had this fairytale of what it would be like – pure bliss and cuddles all day and night. Because why not, right?! LOL, sisssss, did I get my bubble burst! First of all, let me just say that I’m a professional chef at this point, because I’ve seriously never cooked so much in all my life! Secondly, he brought his PlayStation. For the ladies that know, this point needs no elaboration, I’m sure.

The biggest lesson we learned was that communication is key! I know how cliché this sounds, but it has neverrrrr been more real to us than during our time together during lockdown.

Communication is key!

Things I assumed: I’d have all his attention and he’d absolutely love love loooovveee being stuck in the house, cuddling with me all day; he’d automatically do everything the way I wanted and did things in my house; he knew my financial situation so he automatically knew that I needed stuff and some of his money should have been prioritized for my needs.

Reality: He still had to leave to go to work and get extra work done at
home some days; he still had a family that was of equal priority to him; I’m naturally a homebody, he’s not, so being cooped up all day sometimes was a lottttt to adjust to (even with the one you love); I said it was okay to bring the PlayStation so I had to expect that he’d actually play it sometimes; he had every right to spend his money how he saw fit; he has his own way of doing things that doesn’t make them wrong; he literally won’t know exactly what I need or how I’m feeling unless I open my mouth and say it… and well, it wasn’t all about me.

Whew! No one told me serious relationships would be this ghettoooooo!

I had to accept that as much as we love each other, we are not the same person! We do things very differently, but that doesn’t make either of our preferences right or wrong. I’ve had to learn to tone my controlling habits all the way down, to communicate when and why I’m bothered, what I need, what I expect, and accept that he won’t agree to all of my ‘rules’ because (as he likes to tell me) he’s not a robot.

Tips for dating during the pandemic

  • Communicate: You literally cannot hear this enough times. Being locked down in a pandemic has brought on lots of emotions and new experiences, so be open to communicating how you feel and what you need to and from your significant other… and while you’re doing that, bear in mind that your tone and body language matters!
  • Do what you love: As restrictions are easing, get back to doing things you loved doing together before. You can even create new traditions! Getting out of the house and enjoying safe environments is necessary for your sanity.
  • Be gentle: Be gentle with yourself and your significant other. Navigating this new normal can be challenging, so give each other the grace needed to adjust.
  • Pray together: My boyfriend isn’t a super spiritual/religious person (for reference, he’s Catholic and I grew up Methodist/Non-Denominational), but the first time he initiated a prayer together I blushed so hard! It was by far one of the most impressive things he’d ever done, and I still blush a little every time he does it.
  • Have devotions: During the lockdown, we started doing devotions together. I’ll admit that I was a little hesitant to suggest it at first because I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but he agreed, and although we have moments where we get busy and fall off the routine, it’s something we’ve been doing ever since. It gives both of us a chance to understand each other’s individual interpretations of scripture, and leads to necessary discussions about how we intend to use God’s word to prepare for life together.

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