By: Esther Liu, Contributor
Morghen Jael is a third-year arts and science student who has been in a relationship with her boyfriend, Zooey, for two years.
The Silhouette: Are you living together or in a long-distance relationship?
Morghen Jael: We do not share a lease but he is living full-time at my house. So he has a student house in Westdale that he has a lease with. But because of the pandemic and because he actually has an immuno-compromised housemate at that student house, he decided to just move in full-time with me here because we didn’t want to worry about him switching back and forth and exposing all of us to double the amount of people.
So yeah, we technically live together even though that wasn’t what I was planning for at this stage of the relationship. It feels kind of soon for full-time living together, but that’s what it is and it’s been working.
What are the pros and cons of living together?
The pros were that we would get to see each other. Otherwise, we kind of felt like, at the beginning of the pandemic, it was one extreme or the other, so he’s either going to stay or we’re going to be apart.
So it felt like we had to make that choice and it was almost a no-brainer: we’re going to choose to be together. We love each other’s company, we’re part of each other’s daily lives in so many ways, so let’s just get together physically—we can do it.
It was great to have support 24/7 [because] it was stressful with the pandemic [and] it’s also just a stressful life period of my life. I just started medication for my anxiety actually, right at the onset of the pandemic . . . That was a really big paradigm shift in my life, so it was actually great to have Zooey there for those first few months of adjusting to my medication and also just adjusting to the pandemic.
So I think for both of us it helps to have the other one around. People talk about loneliness during the pandemic and I think we never had that problem because we had each other. We’re really great friends in addition to being boyfriend and girlfriend, so we get along really well, we’re good at coming up with things to do.
One of the cons of moving in together full-time was the lack of privacy. I think I felt this more than him, just different people that we are. I like to have a little more time alone in my own space, having solo dance parties in my room to let off steam to kind of retreat into my own world. So lack of privacy was something that we both dealt with.
Even just physical privacy — we have been sleeping in the same bed now for all these months. He’d come over to sleep before, but not night after night. That took some adjusting. I’m not gonna have my physical space all to myself anymore: how can I maintain my bodily integrity, how can I stand up for myself? I’m like: “Okay, this is too much snuggling, I need to go for a walk.”
Could you elaborate on how you’ve been maintaining your relationship?
We have been making sure to take the little bit of personal space that we can. I think that’s been really helpful in making sure that we can still tolerate each other when we’re together. So we’ve been going for solo walks. At least once a day, each of us goes for a walk alone . . . Also, on the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve been doing dates and stuff.
Every time a monthly anniversary comes up, we’ll either order in some food or cook some food and then we’ll make it as special as it can be inside my bedroom. So we’ll have some music, have a glass of wine and try to replicate a date scenario so it feels like we’re still dating [and] not just roommates.
How has your relationship grown because of COVID-19?
I think the pandemic may have helped me to become more honest about my physical needs, like a little more literate, even. I remember using euphemisms to talk about sex or body parts or body functions. In the first year or so, I was kind of like “Oh, I can’t tell him about this health problem” because I was a little embarrassed or I didn’t know what words to use.
But now we’ve been thinking about our physical health a bit more. We’ve been in a closer space so we see each other’s bodies more and I’m getting more comfortable being like “Okay, I have a yeast infection.” But I’m at the point now where I could tell him that I have this physical problem, here’s how you can support me, but you don’t need to know everything and I got it. So yeah, I think that’s been kind of an added dimension and I think that’s also just both of us maturing as people.
Do you have any additional comments?
I just think there are lots of different love stories during the pandemic. Love and sex because sex is definitely an important dimension of this that isn’t necessarily coupled with love . . . It’s important to remember that romantic love is not the end-all and be-all. People are exploring friendships, deep and new friendships, or their sex lives, their own personal sexuality.
Oh, here’s something else: I bought a vibrator for the first time during the pandemic. So I was experimenting with a vibrator. It’s been kind of fun to let Zooey try it too, not for himself but on me, and that also goes with becoming more comfortable with my body, with talking about my body and his body. So anyway, I’m just saying that there are all different types of sex and love stories going on in people’s lives.