“When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere”
The Day of the Triffids (1951), John Wyndham’s 1951 post-apocalyptic novel.
Don’t you know the feeling…
I hope this finds readers safe and well. I am, understandably, now starting to go feral in furlough. The domestic goddess phase has, well, phased. Closet de-cluttered, under the kitchen sink clean, inside the dishwasher and washing machine surgically shiny. Yes, yes, done. Domestic goddess bored.
So bored that I have been getting back on that thing called the telephone and, instead of fidgeting and looking at what my friends are wearing on Zoom calls, actually having a good old listen!
My current fascination is the lives of my single friends, and by chatting with them I’ve realised how many members of our dating network live with flat mates in a house share, rented or owned accommodation, and either full time or during the week. Long gone are the days when the sharing economy was just for millennials, now it is for all ages.
My friend Harry (55) owns his house and wants to retrain (as a business coach). Since his children live with their mother, he decided to rent out his spare room during the week to pay for his studies. He joined the 40+ house share site Cohabitas and started looking for a suitable housemate. He found divorcee Katie (52) who works in London during the week… So, Katie and Harry began living together in a house share and now it seems that familiarity, far from breeding contempt, has started to fan the flames of attraction – at least for Harry!
My friend Lizzy (31) works for a social impact charity and lives in a house share called Lyvly, which facilitates harmonious living and work/life balance for 22 to 36-year-old young professionals. They match on age and encourage new friendships, by highlighting areas of common interest and promoting ways to meet the rest of the community. New members meet their future housemates via video call and visit the flat via 3D tour. Just before lock down, Lizzy met a man that she really connected with on Lyvly’s community app, doing a thing called ‘speed friendsting’ (a weekly opportunity to meet 2 other members you don’t know yet via video chat). She’s been telling me how they have been planning their first face to face date.
Is fancying your flatmate a symptom of Lockdown fever?
Before Lockdown Katie and Harry were like ships that passed in the night, or rather at breakfast, since Katie’s job meant she often worked late. But when Lockdown happened Katie was furloughed, so she decided to stay in London and, in the spirit of community, spend Lockdown with Harry rather than embrace solitude in the country. Suddenly, like shipwreck survivors marooned on a desert island, they found themselves thrown together – girl, boy, flesh and blood. Him Tarzan, her Jane. Maybe not quite, but things were definitely different. Previously they wouldn’t have gone to the movies, dinner, or concerts together. Now, eating together felt sort of date-like, as did exploring each other’s taste in music and TV. Intimate, but also awkward.
Feeling somewhat confused, Harry asked me to suggest some steps he might take to deal with the situation – for both their sakes.
Think about the reasons why you might want a relationship with your roommate. What is it about them that you find attractive right now? Do you have legitimate reasons for wanting to take the next step? If it just boils down to scarcity of choice, you need to know that they’re looking at things the same way, both physically and emotionally. Face it, if you are simply longing for intimate human contact, then it’s probably not a good idea.
Determine their feelings. Look for signs that your roommate has feelings for you. What is your roommate’s body language telling you? An interested person will make a lot of eye contact, touch you and lean into your personal space. They want to give you their full attention.
Be honest with yourself. When we have feelings for someone, we tend to see what we want to see. If it is unclear to you whether or not your roommate has feelings for you, chances are they don’t.
Fight the urge to confess all. It may come to this eventually, but slow down. Give yourself time to see where your feelings are coming from. You may emerge from this lockdown in a wonderful new deep, supportive relationship. It is probably safest to focus on friendship and support, not muddying the water with full-on relationship pressure…. At least, not just yet.
Love in Lockdown….
While it’s wonderful to start a virtual relationship in lockdown, here are a few tips I gave Lizzy:
Try not to project too far into the future: It’s not helpful because your mind is not a crystal ball. Take each day as it comes. Hour by hour even.
Talking to others can help put things into perspective. And if you can’t talk, write your feelings and thoughts down on paper to help you question how rational you’re being.
Don’t watch the news 24/7: You can get overwhelmed. Just tune in to the news at 6pm and maybe one of the national bulletins. That is enough. Reality isn’t just what’s going on in the outside world.
Post Lockdown flat sharing
Lyvly predict the major trends could be:
A greater emphasis on the importance on who you live with, as you may spend most of your days with them.
An increased demand for better living conditions, with wider rooms and the space to work from home.
The need to belong to a group or community that can help during hard times.
Everybody is learning a lot about themselves in lockdown. We value our freedoms a little bit more and this crisis has given perspective to many things we took for granted or considered essential. Most importantly, lockdown can teach us to value the real things that matter most, like friends and family and your house around you.
Rendezvous runs face-to-face events. One of the things I long to do now, is host a little party. But while we wait… and wait and wait… we are putting together a series of webinars featuring fun things to do like cooking, wine and bingo. Also, check out my page on the Vida website!