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'My ex moved back in during lockdown'

Red (UK) logo Red (UK) 4 days ago As told to Sarah Ilston

When my ex was forced to move back in during lockdown it soon began to feel like old times © Shutterstock When my ex was forced to move back in during lockdown it soon began to feel like old times Andy* was supposed to be spending his third night in a row on the sofa when he came out of the en-suite bathroom, naked... one thing led to another and he ended up sleeping back in the bed with me.

A familiar tale of a couple reconciling after a lover's tiff? Kind of, except we'd actually broken up several weeks ago, but had been forced to move back in together when the UK lockdown was announced and sleeping on his friend's sofa was no longer a feasible option. With no family in the area, we had no choice but to spend 24/7 together for the next two months.

Andy and I are both from Australia. We moved to the UK together after only three months of dating back home in Sydney. Although we were familiar from school, we really didn't know each other that well before we decided to move to the other side of the world together. If I'm honest, cracks had already started to show before we left Sydney.

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They left me questioning our compatibility, but my view was that "if it works it works" and if it doesn't, then at least we'd tried. Retrospectively, I probably should've put more thought into such a big decision, but my last boyfriend wasn't interested in leaving, and I was so excited to have finally found someone who I could do that with.

The ball was already rolling when the initial red flags appeared, and my ego wouldn't let me halt the proceedings, so off to London we went. This was in May 2019... by the end of February 2020, we'd broken up.

Many things contributed to our break-up, not least of all our incompatibility living together; we couldn't find a way to communicate effectively and short tempers meant our relationship was a volatile one, but inevitably, the highs were really high. Then lockdown happened.

The cracks soon started re-appearing as time went on © Shutterstock The cracks soon started re-appearing as time went on We were back eating meals together, living together, food shopping together and having better sex than we'd ever had. It felt like we were still in a relationship, and to be honest, having someone there that I could be emotionally and physically intimate with, sitting beside me every evening as we tuned into the government's nightly briefings, felt familiar and comforting during these uncertain times. 

The passion that dominated our early courtship sparked once more, and without the usual relationship pressure and it's accompanying expectations, we ended up having constant sex.

I was furloughed and he was a primary school teacher, so neither of us were busy with work and found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands at first. Without the need to impress each other, we felt like we had nothing to lose and could be more honest about what we wanted in bed. Wondering if 'this might be the last time' we ever do it, also meant we relived the nostalgia and sense of urgency of break-up sex over and over again.

With no real boundaries, confusing feelings of sex and intimacy – exacerbated by this new vulnerable connection we were building, that transferred into the bedroom – and a complete lack of closure, I found myself reconsidering the break-up entirely in lockdown.

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I don't know if he was thinking the same thing because it was never spoken about, even though we were communicating better than ever. He even readily took responsibility for the part he'd played in our relationship's demise. But, although we were physically intimate, we treated each other more like friends during those two months than we ever have throughout our relationship, both agreeing that we wouldn't go looking for connections with other people during that time.

'Have we made a huge mistake?' I wondered, silently in my head.

Of course, all our old issues eventually reared their ugly head. Every 'breakthrough' of vulnerability was followed by familiar feelings of resentment bubbling up, and we ended up back at square one.

Isolation gave a false sense of hope, working on a relationship that no longer existed, but each time a fight broke out I realised we'd made the right decision to part and counted down the days in my head until he could leave.

a woman standing in front of a building: Depressed woman at home © martin-dm Depressed woman at home

As the weeks went on, I, along with the rest of the nation, found it very hard not being able to see friends and family during these testing times. I briefly broke lockdown once, to vent to my best friend during a socially distanced walk after a particularly heated fight with Andy. I often felt lonely and isolated, with no way to escape my failed relationship, and nothing to uplift or distract me.

It wasn't all bad however. With nowhere to go and no-one to talk to but each other, we slowly worked through a lot of our issues.

I had started online therapy during lockdown and got to voice things I'd been waiting our entire relationship to say; getting the closure I so longed for. Although this softened the separation process slightly – drip feeding his departure instead of one dramatic exit – it also prolonged my recovery, when he finally left for good.

The day after the government announced lockdown restrictions were easing slightly and people could now move house, Andy moved out.

It's been a week since he left and the fog is only just starting to slowly lift. As my anxiety at him leaving subsides, I've started feeling hopeful for the future again. We kept in pretty regular contact the first few days after he moved out, but I noticed that every time we spoke, my anxiety returned, so I've since sent him a message saying we need to cease contact for a while.

I don't regret Andy moving in, as I can now see myself being friends with him in the future. Something that might not have happened if we hadn't been thrown together unexpectedly for the last two months.

I can enjoy my newfound freedom, safe in the knowledge that we definitely made the right decision and ended things in the best way possible, with the closure I really needed.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons

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Stay at home as much as possible to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.


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