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I'm living with my boyfriend for the first time... during the coronavirus outbreak

Eimear McGovern


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Enjoying our one form of exercise last week.

Enjoying our one form of exercise last week.

Enjoying our one form of exercise last week.

When Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer, advised couples to "test the strength" of their relationship and move in together if they wanted to see each other during the coronavirus pandemic, I felt a bit smug.

My boyfriend Richard, with whom I've been going out for just over a year, was already in situ at my house share in Belfast, having made the decision to move in with me so we wouldn't be separated by advice not to travel during the coronavirus emergency..

He's a key worker who is based in an office in Derry so it was no small sacrifice to move up here and effectively commit to getting up in the early hours of every morning to make it to work in time for the early shift.

I made up my mind to be a paragon of virtue while he was living here

So when he suggested moving in with me so that I wouldn't be lonely while self-isolating, I made up my mind to be a paragon of virtue while he was living here - have the dinner on the table every night, keep a perfectly clean house and generally give him absolutely no grief for the next three weeks.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take my own personality into account and found myself asking where I had gone wrong when Richard compared me to Mussolini for criticising the way he was washing the dishes.

In my defence, I've been living independently from my family for almost five years, having moved out of my parents' house when I was 23 and done things my way, and my way alone, since then.

Richard isn't a clean freak like me, he drops his clothes where he takes them off and while he loves to cook (something I thank God for every time I sit down to a meal he's made) he generally leaves a trail of destruction behind in the kitchen.

I live with two NHS healthcare workers who were fine with it when I asked whether Richard could move in for a few weeks but both have almost disappeared since then. I'm sure the two things aren't connected.

I love reading and descend into a foul humour if I don't get a few hours each day to sit down with a book in peace. It's been an adjustment for him to give me the time and space to do that without interrupting to tell me a joke or some anecdote.

Likewise when we watch television - he has the amazing ability to talk constantly while still following exactly what's happening on screen.

I think his mum knew it would be an adjustment for me, too. We're saving for a house and Richard has moved home to do that, so he's effectively gone from his family home to my house. When he arrived last week, he presented me with a bottle of wine from her. "Is this to say thank you to me for minding you?" I asked.

My kind and patient boyfriend is the first to tell me everything will be OK

But really, most of the minding has been on his end. We're lucky we have a place to stay and be with each other but the worry about what the world will look like in the future and whether all our family members and friends will be safe can get to me.

My kind and patient boyfriend is the first to tell me everything will be OK and if it's not, we're in it together.

That's along with the cups of tea and Lindt bunnies he's delivered to the study while I've been working from home.

Truth be told, when all this is over, I'm finding it hard to think of how I'll cope at the thought of not hearing his (my spare) key in the lock every day.

Belfast Telegraph