Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I met my current boyfriend during COVID, so during the beginning of our relationship we spent a lot of time just the two of us, which was awesome because we had a lot of time to get to know each other.
Now that things have opened up and our lives are getting back to pre-pandemic “normal,” it’s been kind of a rough transition. He goes out way more than me. I’m always open to drinks or dinner on the weekend, but he likes to go out multiple nights a week. I’ve really been a happy hermit for years, and have a few close friends. He has a huge social circle and I’m definitely insecure about the fact that it includes at least two of his ex-girlfriends. While they’re nice enough, I’m not used to being friends with exes and it still kind of weirds me out.
I miss our quiet days at home, playing board games and binging TV shows and cooking together. When I suggest we stay home more, or do something just the two of us, he basically brushes it off and says it’s “more fun” to be out and with people — which makes me feel boring. I’m afraid our relationship was really a placeholder to get through COVID and now it’s going to run its course, but I really adore him and I don’t want to lose him. Advice?
The thing about COVID quarantining was it really leveled the social playing field. With businesses shut down, options were eliminated. The biggest decisions were narrowed down and easy to navigate — like choosing between Hulu and Netflix or whether to go DoorDash or Grubhub. For a relatively brief span of time, we were all living homogenous lives — staying home, staying put, keeping life small and contained. Some hated it, some embraced the peace; some created new habits, and others looked longingly forward to getting back to regular life again.
In some ways, COVID did you wrong. The parameters of the pandemic presented a false front of your guy. It turns out the hunkered-down homebody you fell for is in fact a party-hearty social dynamo. Straight talk: if you want a low-key life of snuggly nights at home, this is not your guy. If you’re honest with yourself, the things you liked most about him and your relationship are fading fast in the harsh light of reality.
My advice: cut your losses and move on. End things on a positive note. Be grateful for the time you had, and for the comfort and fun you shared in getting through a truly awful stretch of modern history. Free yourself up again to dating, and keep your heart and eyes open for a better match, someone who will appreciate a laid-back, coupled-up life that’s more your tempo. You’ll both be happier in the long run.
Now, let’s not get too carried away here. Your social butterfly boyfriend has pretty much been living/trapped in a bubble with a single person for, like, forever. So don’t take this personally, but of course he’s going to run screaming out of the house as quickly as possible to see friends and party like the old days.
It’s not like he’s cut you out of the equation — you’re still invited. And even homebodies like you have to be itching to get out and have some socially responsible fun, right? I mean, we’ve — almost, maybe, perhaps — survived a pandemic, or at least made it through a really brutal year-and-a-half. That’s worth celebrating. And if anything, this crazy time should have given everyone an appreciation for the awesome things in life, like hanging out with besties, eating at our favorite restaurants, chatting up our favorite bartenders, cheering on our favorite teams, and, of course, being with the people who had our back during the darkest days of the pandemic.
He’s just jumping from one extreme — the quiet bubble life with you — of his life to another, the wild party life with everybody. I bet that after a few weeks of going out, he’ll crave a few calm nights on the couch at home with you, his girlfriend in which he has invested a lot of quality time. And soon, there will be some balance and he’ll be comfortably in the middle of both worlds.
Will you ever have him back as a stay-at-home boyfriend? Doubt it — though keep an eye on those variant trends. Can you and him lead your best lives and still be together? Yes, if you cut him, and yourself, some slack, and also understand that just like the last year wasn’t a realistic expectation for daily life forever, neither were a few weeks of him shaking off the hunker-down blues.