Lockdownlovestories.com is a participatory art project created by artist and writer, Philippa Found. It was launched in lockdown on 7th May 2020, with the invitation to anonymously submit your real life story of how lockdown has affected love and dating for you. Since then more than 300 stories have been published on the site and the project has featured on BBC Radio London, Grazia, Metro, and ITV’s Lorraine. The stories are deliberately unedited, often ungendered, and are a time capsule of this unique moment in our history that collectively tells the story of how love and dating shifted in lockdown. It is a real life real time love story told in fragments.
A curated selection of the stories are presented here, but all can be read, and your own story contributed, at www.lockdownlovestories.com
Submissions remain open.
I broke up with my boyfriend in lockdown
I broke up with my boyfriend in lockdown. It was a long time coming and we had been on a break in the weeks prior. I had been running from him subconsciously for years and looking for big and dramatic reasons to end things. Reasons like new opportunities in other countries, rent being too high in the city I was living in. Reasons that weren’t simply…I’m not interested any more and I don’t know that I ever was to the extent you’re supposed to be. I knew he couldn’t handle that and that he would take it personally – he would try to pinpoint it to a single thing he did or a flaw he thought he had. So lockdown and my subsequent change of city to my home city came in the middle of a break and I called it. I ended it. I’m ridiculously happy with this decision. I always was happier single and I feel like myself again. He wasn’t a controlling guy, it’s just I guess I’m not at a place yet where I can feel like myself while being ‘in a relationship’. I need total commitment to myself for that apparently.
I’ve fallen for a girl I haven’t met
I’ve fallen for a girl I haven’t met. Seven weeks of video dates, long phone calls, and thousands upon thousands of WhatsApp messages. The desire to break the rules is very intense.
Lockdown for me has meant a huge increase in dreams, usually involving ex-lovers, but also colleagues I’m (apparently) missing, and other random assorted cast members. The dreams have been, almost exclusively, overtly sexual. I wake up most mornings with a sense of longing only just overtaken by the more pressing need to make myself come. I just need to feel something inside me, and the dreams leave such lingering images and a sense of touch I am sorely missing. I just want to be touched. At this point, I don’t even care who by. Who will be the next one to touch me? I may explode.
I’ve been watching Normal People with my ex-boyfriend. We live in different countries, so all the watching is individual followed by emails that may arrive in the recipient’s inbox at 3am their time. It’s the perfect show to watch alone together: the soundtrack would be ruined by anyone else’s live commentary and aspects of the plot mimic our on-off relationship before I moved away and met someone better. We don’t have in-depth discussions, an email might be a single sentence. I realize in writing this that I’m just so bored and lonely that this passes as entertainment. I used to be an interesting person and now I’m not. I don’t care about the ex, who treated me badly while we were together, and wouldn’t mind if he never emailed me again, but for now, all I’ve got is Normal People.
I’ve Fallen In Love With You (Again)
Lockdown gave us time, time we didn’t make for ourselves. It made us both present. It helped you to relax, and helped me to get to know you better. We’ve explored and experimented with each other. We’ve broken down barriers. We’ve started a new chapter. We’ve created magical memories.
I’ve fallen in love with you again my wife.
I need you to know that you are the most remarkable person I know. I love my life with you. I love my adventures with you. I love my family with you. I love that it’s me you chose. I love that we fought for us. I love that you keep trying for us. I love that I keep trying for you. I love our lockdown love story. You rock my world. Lockdown, the time I found you (again), the love of my life. xx
Fair Weather Romance
I’m now dating my own boyfriend as we live apart.
Our dates depend on whether it’s sunny enough to meet outside.
Lockdowning alone. Of course I miss my friends and family. But I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather spend this much time with. We’re told to judge ourselves harshly, to hold ourselves to account, to compare ourselves to what’s expected. This experience and the time alone has taught me that I’m doing just fine, and there’s no shame in taking pride in who I am.
TikTok My Heart
One of her videos came up on my TikTok for you page, I decided to comment and follow her. Thankfully, she followed me back and we started talking. Within 6 days she came to stay for a weekend secretly, barely told anyone she was coming (lockdown lol), and we spent the next 3 weeks on video chat almost 24 hours solid, only hanging up for her to go for dinner for maybe an hour, hour and a half. We were falling in love, so hard, but we didn’t want to use the ‘L’ word over the phone, it didn’t feel special enough. We knew what it means, and we knew it to be true, but needed the first time to be important and memorable. After those 3 weeks, and a lot of arguments with family and friends, she came to live with me. She shared a link on Google Maps to track her car since it was a 3 hour drive, and I don’t think I breathed in that whole time, I was so scared she’d be pulled over or something like that. She got here and my heart was so full, and once we had unpacked her stuff and got her comfy, she held my hand to her chest, looked into my eyes and told me she loved me, and I genuinely stopped breathing. We’re into week 7 now of living together, and I couldn’t be happier. She’s honestly the love of my life. Thank god for TikTok
Hinging for a Kiss
Okay so we matched on Hinge right before lockdown and have been talking ever since. He calls me every other night and we met for a socially distanced walk last weekend. But all I wanna do is kiss him so I guess we’ll be breaking the distance this weekend when we have our second date.
Lockdown love is so weird. Like we know so much about each other because we’ve been talking for 3 months but we’ve only met once. And haven’t even touched.
Lockdown Brought Us Together
We met on Hinge last year while I was in my final year of uni. We had a mutual friend, got on immediately, liked (mostly) all the same things, honestly, it all seemed a bit too good to be true. I remember thinking maybe he was that elusive ‘perfect guy’. But it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to the fact that I was moving back home, hundreds of miles away from him in a few weeks time and in the end, we were both just too busy to actually fix a time to meet in person.
So, we lost touch, I graduated and moved home but we seemed to just about stay on the peripheries of each other’s lives, popping in and out on social media now and then.
Fast forward to March this year, I frantically text him to help solve a problem I was having at work. In fairness, there were definitely other people I could have asked but he was first one who came to my mind…
We started talking again, still hundreds of miles away from each other but with lockdown looming it seemed reasonable to stay in touch, to keep each other company almost.
Lockdown hit and we carried on talking. He sent me flowers. I wrote him a letter. We FaceTimed almost every night, watched TV shows together, he made me laugh and smile like no one has for a long time. It feels bizarre to call it love but it’s definitely a big like. He is irreversibly a part of my life now, I miss him when we don’t talk, I smile when I think about him and I haven’t even met him.
Soon I will be braving the train journey to see him. Finally.
For now, I wait and I imagine what it’s going to be like in his arms, to feel his kisses and just be with him.
Fuck You P***!
Just as lockdown started the man I had been happily seeing for 10 months began working ‘crazy hours’. He works in a hospital and so is very much front line. What a noble cause I thought, and as much as I was confused, worried and upset by the uncertainty of lockdown, I wanted to help him and offer support, space, baked goods and entertainment, but he was was so busy, I suddenly stopped hearing from him for almost a month.
He is a recovering alcoholic so I became convinced that he had started drinking and was ashamed to tell me, so I spent two weeks reading everything I could about how to support someone who might have had a relapse.
Finally, one Saturday afternoon, he called. Anticipating the worst, I had prepared a relapse-support speech in front of me. He was making chicken soup, and he broke up with me while I could hear the chopping in the background. The relationship wasn’t going the way he had envisaged (bearing in mind the situation…what the actual F). I very quickly found out the real reason was a petite blonde he’d been talking to for some weeks and that he was, quite simply, a liar and a coward.
I find it profoundly sad that I didn’t realise the last time I saw him would be the last time. Especially because we live 15 minutes from each on opposing edges of Hampstead Heath. Fortunately, I’ve had the whole of lockdown to realise how grateful I am for me and how much more I deserve.
Fuck you, P***!
Just My Luck
I met this guy just before the lockdown and we hit it off pretty hard. Just to my luck, he then got stuck in France during quarantine and stayed there for 3 months. We were talking every night on the phone and he even told me he loved me.
When he got back we spent 5 wonderful days together. After that I never heard from him again.
I was sad when this happened as I felt our love had so much more to explore. But you just gotta trust that the universe is working it out for you.
It obviously wasn’t meant to be …
It’s Silly, Sexy and I like it
Near the start of lockdown, an ex-colleague texted. We have zero in common except our love of the same football team. He is a tough guy and slightly scary but charming. His texts went from ‘Long time, how are you?’, ‘let’s have drinks’ to general chat then they plummeted into seriously heart-stopping filthy talk. He vanished for two weeks. Then he reappeared, resumed the saucy convo and vanished again. This behaviour would have no appeal in non-lockdown reality but right now, it’s silly, sexy and I like it.
Single. Single. Single. Single. Single. Single. Single. Single. – Ooh? No. Single.
The One With The Happy Ending
Although I have spent lockdown with my lovely boyfriend, like most people I have spent a lot of the time being haunted by the ghosts of past boyfriends, replaying relationships in my head like old episodes of Friends.
– The one with the manipulative control freak
– The one with the aggressive drunk
– The one where I waited for 8 years
– The one that could have been but never was
Yes, lockdown has given me the chance to process feelings I didn’t know I was harbouring, but let’s face it, no one wants to watch these episodes – these are the ones you skip through to get to the Thanksgiving special.
Thankfully, as lockdown began to relax so did my thoughts and I now feel like I can finally leave the past where it belongs. Which is lucky, as it turns out whilst I had spent my spare time dissecting my past, my boyfriend had been busy planning our future, and writing his own episode – the one with the proposal.
It’s been 111 days since we went into lockdown. 111 days of spending it with you. 111 days of inside jokes and shared moments that gave me joy like I’ve experienced with none other. 111 dinners and 111 breakfasts. 111 days of shared emotions and conversations. 111 evenings of Netflix. 111 days of growing affection. 111 evenings by your side. 111 mornings waking up by your side. And in the end, it only took 1 day for it all to disappear.
I matched this god of a man on Hinge just before lockdown. FIT. He was gorgeously fit. We started FaceTiming (every night), on my daily exercise, en route to Sainsburys, in bed etc. Not only was he fit, he was a dream. Kind, funny, loved his family, loved the outdoors, loved his job. He’s part of the army… so basically a proper hunk.
As time went on I suppose it felt like we really knew each other, after all we had been seeing each other most days.
Once restrictions eased he came to London to see me (he’s from up North… didn’t quite understand how important it was to set your radius on Hinge). We set off to the pub, I’d had a few prior. Dutch courage and all.
We had nothing to say to one another all night, the chat was dead, sparse, zero, nada. No chemistry, no conversation, nothing.
I will never know how FaceTime tricked me so badly but all I can say is that I will be a little more careful next time.
Anywho, the search continues…
He asked me over
I didn’t actually realise the seriousness of lockdown. It was 3 days in and I was at home and my friend from college asked me if I wanted to go over to his. I wasn’t too sure about the idea because of the rules. I then decided to go. I told my mum and she said, “If you go you can’t come back.” I thought I’d be allowed to come back home in a couple of days and she was still adamant that I couldn’t come back. We had such a laugh during lockdown getting to know each other and spending time together going out for walks etc. He then asked me to be his girlfriend in April and we have been happy ever since and I’m still staying at his house to this day!
Sex in the Time of Social Distancing
Covid-19 is a nightmare for a OCD eligible bachelor. I tore into my flatmate, who insisted on breaking all the rules, more importantly our bubble (we’re just friends). To the point I even started to call him, Dominic Cummings. After many months of ridicule from my friends about joining Hinge, I thought, why not? Fast forward a week, and believe it or not, she’s on her way over. She thought to herself “where is that man who likes to bathe in sanitiser?” And there I was. The panic was real, and deeply inset. But hell, my debut Hinge date was metres from the front door. So like any OCD man, I let her in, sanitised her hands, and to my delight, she kept her mask on. We perched on the sofa, and shared stories and a few sharpeners from the corner shop. I feel this is the point to escalate the story to a naked young lady, with only her mask on. Is she for real? Is this a joke? No, she’s shielding for her Auntie. Taking this so very seriously, we proceeded to take it all the way, shielding only our faces, by way of the masks. As you can imagine, or in fact definitely not, it was most strange, but enjoyable none the less. We parted ways and I hope her Auntie is still safe. But most importantly, Dominic Cummings can never know.
Before The First Date
We had liked each other before but circumstances weren’t right. We reconnected in February- texting, chatting, getting excited about one another and the potential of this new thing. Made plans to meet but something came up, made new plans but fell ill. Then lockdown. We text every day, good morning to good night. phone calls and video calls. But haven’t kissed, touched one another, been in the same room. Over 5 months the initial lust and excitement – ‘I can’t wait to see him. I NEED to see him’ – gave way to a reassuring security – knowing he was there for me and I was there for him – gave way to a nagging disappointment – is he always this negative? He puts so much pressure on me. He complains constantly. This is exhausting. Have I run the gamut of an entire relationship without even one date? one kiss?
I watched more porn than I would ever care to admit during lockdown. Along with taking endless pictures of my tits.
Sometimes I Lie
I must admit that sometimes I lie in bed with my boyfriend and think about my ex. How he never quite gave me what I wanted and never really showed me the respect I deserved… YET I was always chasing him. To this day I still do, under the guise of friendship. I never tell my boyfriend we are meeting. My ex and I gossip and giggle for a few hours and discuss each other’s love lives. I always feel like there is a competitive tone coming from his end but I might be reading into it. Sometimes I watch his beautiful lips spew out the most egocentric crap I’ve ever heard and for some reason I fall in love with him all over again. After 4/5 hours of his company we run out of things to say and we get bored. We part ways and agree to meet again in a few months time. I’m brought back to reality that love is so much more than the longing for what you can’t have. It’s about stability, security and real genuine friendship. My boyfriend is in the dark about our meetings and I think I’ll keep it this way. Although I must question, why ruin something amazing for the sake of reigniting an old flame which clearly never burned so brightly in the first place. Being in love is complex and if I’m honest, I’m in love with them both.
I Tell Him I Enjoyed Every Minute
I locked down with my relatively new boyfriend and I tell him I enjoyed every minute of it. Although I’m a very privileged, lucky individual, in retrospect all the memories are sprinkled with anxiety. I felt trapped in a cage and far from home… He so adamantly loves me and thinks we are going to spend the rest of our lives together – as much as I adore him, I fear we are too young to make such commitments to each other. I went through his ex-girlfriend’s messages with him and it’s all “can’t wait to get our dream house and a puppy.” Sometimes I worry if he’s being genuine or just acting out what he thinks love is from interpretations of movies/pop culture. I hate the fact that what I thought were potentially OUR dreams have clearly come from a script. If anyone asks, lockdown really let me get to know him and it was beautiful. In reality, lockdown proved to me that no matter how many christmases I spend on my own, I’ll always be a codependent motherfucker!
He Fell In Love
I fell in love before lockdown, we were discussing my moving to his city, how we would decorate our own place, what our wedding would be like, our future. During the second week of lockdown I started to struggle to get a hold of him, he messaged sporadically. I finally told him we needed to talk. We talked, he reassured me we were okay, he still wanted to be together. The last thing he ever said to me was “I’ll call you back in a bit.”
He fell in love during lockdown.
It just wasn’t with me.
Badass Feminist Love
Can I tell you about how I’ve finally fallen in love with myself? About how lockdown has forced me to face my insecurities and imperfections and see them as a tangle of beautiful qualities in a beautiful person? How I threw myself into therapy and how I’ve buried myself in books on co-dependency and attachment theory and badass feminist texts on learning to love yourself in a capitalistic world that feeds off your perceived unworthiness.
Winding up single and alone used to seem like a failure. But being alone is a choice and being alone doesn’t mean you are without love. Being alone means rediscovering old friendships, strengthening platonic love, embracing new connections and it especially means learning to love your own company. I wish I’d known that a long time ago.
I went into lockdown full of heartbreak and anxiety and I’ve come out bursting with love and strength.
Holding Hands In Melbourne
Melbourne. In our first lockdown, we were just new friends getting to know each other on socially distanced walks. Then lockdown ended and we spent 3 weeks sleeping together. I think we both feel like this has the potential to be very serious.
But now we’ve spent 2 months apart during this second lockdown. The government says you can visit your ‘intimate partner’ and while neither of us are fucking anyone else, you still ‘aren’t sure if you’re ready for a new relationship’, so we’re keeping our distance.
I wish you’d just tell me what I want to hear. That you do want a relationship. Because I know I do. You say everything else that I want to hear, except that. And then I feel guilty and pathetic for thinking that way.
So we’re back to going for walks together. But these days we hold hands.
And I found myself thinking about that blind Dutch man who broke my heart last year, who wouldn’t hold my hand because he’d ‘been that man’ for his ex and he wasn’t going to ‘be that man’ again. And I think of you and your ex, who you still mention often, and I’m just waiting for you to turn around and say the same thing, and drop my hand.