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Warning: content in this article may have been hideously sensationalised for the writer’s own personal amusement. 

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So here we are again.

Back in the Habit. 2 Love 2 Coronavirus. Her Campus: The Squeakquel.

Some cynics might view sequels as an undignified attempt to cash in on previous successes; to negate risk in a market of increasing uncertainty; to avoid having to think of original ideas for article content in the midst of exam stress, hunting for pandemic-hampered internship opportunities, and this all-consuming conspiracy theorising in anticipation of the Line of Duty finale.

Well, cynics – to that, this humble writer has to say… um… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

(You sure told them, Matthew.)

So, buckle up folks. It’s time for: Love in the Time of Coronavirus Part Deux: Electric Boo- oh, you get the idea…

(And if you missed the original, you can always check it out here.)

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When Florence Taylor first met her boyfriend – let us call him Pierre – neither of them were looking for a relationship. 

After a couple of weeks of fun, they decided to take a step back and talk about it – or whatever it was. They had known from the start that Pierre was scheduled to move to Paris in August, and so ultimately it had an expiry date. With this in mind, they decided to break it off. And that was when…

Oh, shit.

After twelve hours, they were back together. They had decided to go for IT!

“We wake up laughing, and we go to sleep laughing,” Florence tells me. It seems like they have a truly beautiful bond. I ask Florence for their secret. “Good communication about everything! About sex. About our relationship. About whether or not we’ve salted the pasta water yet.”

When lockdown struck in March 2020, Florence decided to shack up with Pierre.

“I thought it would only be for three weeks.”

I laugh. Silly Florence. 

The biggest difficulty they encountered was trying not to become co-dependent, as they found themselves increasingly reliant on one another. 

“I was worried about becoming an old married couple with no pals!” Striking a balance took time and self-discipline, she tells me. 

What happened next will shock you.

“Our lease in St Andrews was up, […] we needed work, […] we were out of cash and needed a better living environment.”

So, Florence and Pierre decide to pack up everything and decamp to the countryside to live with Pierre’s parents and work on their fruit farm. 

This sounds like the logline to a Nora Ephron-style romcom! When Florence Met Fruit Farm*, anyone?

[*© Matthew Gray 2021]

If that wasn’t drama enough, layer after layer of complication was generously slathered on top like sickly buttercream. Early on, Florence had a head injury and was seriously concussed. Around the same time, Pierre’s grandmother died, and grief loomed over their strawberry-scented summer romance. It sounds like quite the cocktail. “Yeah, it was quite intense,” Florence laughs.

Flash forward, and with restrictions easing, Pierre was called to Paris. The couple have now been doing long-distance since Christmas break. 

“I experienced what felt like a traumatic shock when he left,” Florence tells me. “My friends say I’m nesting – I just want everyone I love to be together under one roof.” Florence believes this feeling is definitely unique to the pandemic and all its uncertainties. 

However, they have been making their LDR work admirably.

“100% you need to be creative.” Florence confesses. The couple do a lot of date nights. “We’ll get dressed up. We’ll do make-up and send each other photos beforehand like, “‘this is what I’m wearing’ as a bit of teasing. […] We’ll do a meal, a movie, either we’ll both drink beer or both drink prosecco. […] We send each other ingredients too – we’ll both use the same flour to make pasta!”

Like some of our other interviewees, gaming has been part of spicing up their LDR. “He had gamer experience,” Florence laughs, placing a strong emphasis on every word. I am worried this is a euphemism that I don’t quite understand. For someone with little experience in that department, Florence recommended the online card game Dominion, which lasts about thirty minutes a session. “It’s a good way to avoid thinking about the ‘big things,’” she tells me.

Phone sex has also become a big part of their relationship. “It didn’t come naturally,” Florence admits. “It took time.” Buying each other sex toys has been a way for Florence and Pierre to remain physically intimate in their relationship, to try new things, and get better acquainted with each other’s bodies. 

“Funny story – any packages sent to the EU require a special tax code declaring what is inside the package. I had to email Her Majesty’s Customs to get the code for a handheld prostate massager!” Now that sounds like one lucky Pierre! For any interested readers, Florence tells me she’d definitely recommend this double-ended stainless steel toy, which she adds is usually found on sale!

Their dream for the future is to save up for some remotely controlled sex toys. Politely pretending that I am not familiar with what Florence is talking about, she tells me that you can now buy toys paired with an app, so that at the touch of a button, she could give her boyfriend in France an orgasm from her living room in Scotland! 

God bless Science!

As I write this out, a big goofy smile on my face, I cannot help appreciating just how candid Florence has been when talking about her relationship with me. I imagine this ease stems from that wonderful communication Florence was telling me about. This is a couple who are proud of their love for each other and themselves, and they delight in sharing it with the world.

Now, excuse me while I try to convince Florence to sign over the rights to her life story.

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A big thank you to all the wonderful contributors in our ongoing series! If you have any of your own stories to share about your pandemic relationships, be sure to reach out at [email protected] for the chance to be featured!

Matthew Gray

St Andrews '22

Matthew Gray is a student of Film and Literature with a particular interest in the often neglected and unfinished histories of women writers and filmmakers. He is also passionate about theatre, having penned the plays "life is shit." and "Edward II (after Marlowe)," which were both performed in St Andrews. Counted among his numerous obsessions are classical music, Kate Bush, the Weimar Republic, and animals (both of the human and non-human variety).
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