universal language

The Woman Who Can’t Stop Fighting With the Love of Her Life

“Everything about our situation now is … intense.”

Illustration: Simone Noronha
Illustration: Simone Noronha

Nida, 31, San Francisco

I met David at the end of November, and it was just like, instant connection. He’s 32, I’m 31, we’ve both dated enough, so everything progressed really fast. I think at a certain age you just know … Especially for me, because I dated around and tried a lot of new and different things to see what was important to me and what my “non-negotiables” were. Within a few weeks, he asked me to go to Europe. I’m such a spontaneous person — I usually think as far as, you probably won’t kill me, right? — so of course I said yes.

We go from first date, to traveling through Europe, to living together, all in less than three months. It was going so well, I was like, why delay? By February 1, we’d found an apartment in downtown San Francisco and moved in. We were planning to go to Ireland at the end of March and I knew that he was going to propose to me. How did I know? He showed me the ring! Sometimes I’m like … is this crazy? Am I crazy?

Then, in mid-March, we went into lockdown. Everything about our situation now is … intense. I can’t tell what are small issues or big issues anymore. As soon as your freedom is taken away, everything is exacerbated. One of the fun parts about a new relationship is that you’re still hiding things from each other. I’m still keeping up the façade. Like, you don’t get to see me when my eyebrows aren’t plucked! But now, there are no rules anymore. I see you all the time. I know what you’re doing all day because I can hear all of your work meetings. I know how many video games you play. How many shots of tequila you’re drinking.

In a way, we’re kind of self-conscious about it. Because we’re fighting a lot. And the fights are more intense because we’re trapped. I work in nightlife and do some modeling, so I’m not employed at all right now, and there’s nothing else I’m focusing on — except me and our relationship. It leads me to get annoyed by things that I would never get annoyed by. Like when he opens bottles of Pellegrino and leaves the caps all over the place instead of just putting them in the trash. Or when he’s trying to get ice and cubes fall on the floor and he doesn’t pick them up and there’s always little puddles … Every day I clean the entire apartment.

The last time I lived with someone, I was 24, and who I was then is not who I am now. I had daddy issues. I was looking for structure in a relationship. I copycatted my boyfriend: His interests were mine; his friends were mine. I was very much more docile, and didn’t want to argue. Now, I’m more independent and more confident in my own skin. But this whole experience is really testing that. It just feels weird that my whole life revolves around another person’s schedule again.

We still have sex about once a day. Which is probably more than a lot of people have. But in the beginning it would be very lusty and insatiable. Every morning he’d wake me up to do it. Or I’d wake him up by going down on him. Now that’s not really happening anymore? Now he jokes, like, “Hey, babe, how ’bout that blow job!”

So there’s a part of me that thinks, Oh shit, is it going to go back to what it was before? I don’t know! I’m worried by how comfortable we’ve had to become with each other. And now we have 40 more years to live together.

But, the cool thing is, David’s really big on self-improvement. I’m a sucker for that. Even if we get in a huge fight, as long as you want to work on this, learn from this, that’s huge for me. Yes, I’m gonna be a bitch. You’re gonna be an asshole. But as long as we try to improve ourselves, then okay.

Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of David’s when I first met him, but I loved that he was direct and very sure of what he wanted with his future — and it was with me. I remember early in our relationship, there was one night where we were sprawled across each other on my too-small, full-size bed, talking about how similar and tough our childhoods were. Then he looked at me and he said, “I admire you so much more knowing what you’ve been through and how strong you are now.” I think that was the real moment I knew he was the one. Even now, if we’re on the couch together for hours while he plays the new Final Fantasy game, and I’m on my computer, I’ll still miss him when we don’t talk for more than 30 minutes — despite having to be together 24 hours a day. I just feel totally like myself around him. He also makes me pee my pants from laughing so much (which actually happened once, but he doesn’t know).

It’s so funny. The engagement ring is now hidden in a safe in a closet. I don’t want a quarantine proposal.

Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

The Woman Who Can’t Stop Fighting With the Love of Her Life