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Love Letters

We met online during the pandemic. How do we merge our COVID bubbles?

We’re trying to keep our friends and family safe.

Submit your questions for Meredith here.

Q. I have a basically unsolvable problem. Right before Thanksgiving, I met a guy on a dating app. We decided it would be nice to meet — outdoors, of course. It went great, but he was leaving for a month-and-a-half visit to his parents.

We texted, talked on the phone, and had Netflix parties, etc., throughout his time away. Now he is back and I’m not sure how to handle hanging out in person . . . but I really want to see him! I live with my sister, he lives with a roommate. Both of us have our circle of people we’re comfortable seeing, but seeing each other widens both of our comfort zones.

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I am writing to ask for tips for how to navigate my situation. I’d really like to get to know him better in person, which would involve more than just going for walks, but want to keep myself and my sister safe as well. What am I supposed to do?! Move in with him right now? Kidding . . . sort of.

– Committing in COVID

A. I’m working on a story right now about people who started dating after March, and a lot of the couples I’ve interviewed got very serious within a few months (or weeks) because that’s what it took to be together. By serious, I mean they joined the same bubble/pod. They decided to choose each other — whether that meant moving in or taking a long trip to a rental — just to see if they could get along. But I’m not sure you’re there yet with this person. That’s why I suggest waiting.

We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines. Closeness is coming. You can keep doing Netflix parties and walks (cold ones, if you live in New England). You can revisit next steps in another month if the relationship feels like it’s growing.

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At that point, yes, maybe you’ll want to try bunking with him after a COVID-19 test. Or maybe the four of you (sister, roommate) can talk about what works.

For now, ask him if he has any ideas. If he wants to stay remote, that’s the answer, for sure. This is not a time to push anyone — including your sister or someone else’s roommate — outside of a comfort zone. I can see March in the distance. April. June. I know it’s difficult, but it is possible to keep the momentum going until the right time. What else is there to do?

– Meredith

READERS RESPOND

Unless one of you is in a risky situation (essential worker, etc.), there’s no reason why you can’t join each other’s bubble. If you’re not at high risk you have to balance COVID safety with emotional needs. GOODFORTHEM

COVID is making you think you can/should skip all the early relationship steps. You’re still in the very early stages so it’s not inappropriate to keep seeing him on socially distant outside dates. SETTINGTHEWORLDONFIRE

I’m so confused about why people who are too afraid to widen their circles are on dating apps right now. What was your plan going into this? BONECOLD

As someone who started dating someone pre-COVID, then we mutually decided to bubble-up for a few months, just to have the relationship implode several months later with a stupid citation of “our togetherness was forced,” my advice is to consider being patient. PENSEUSE

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Season 4 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast just wrapped with a live finale. Hear it at loveletters.show or wherever you listen.