A woman who started dating while living with her ex has revealed she is pregnant with her new boyfriend’s child.
When the country was plunged into lockdown a year ago, writer ‘Rachel’, 38, who doesn’t wish to reveal her real name, was travelling around the world and found herself scrambling to get the last flight out of New Zealand before the borders closed.
She managed to get home to the house in London where she still lived in with her ex ‘David’, whose name has been changed, but wasn’t aware she’d be staying with him for months to come.
The couple’s five-year relationship had ended in heartbreak in 2019, and Rachel had gone went travelling after a downward spiral of mental illness following two devastating miscarriages.
A woman who started dating while living with her ex has revealed she is pregnant with her new boyfriend’s child. When the country was plunged into lockdown a year ago, writer ‘Rachel’, 38, who doesn’t wish to reveal her real name, was travelling around the world and found herself scrambling to get the last flight out of New Zealand before the borders closed. The writer is pictured
Once back in the UK in March 2020, the writer was ready to get back out there, but had to navigate this around living with her ex.
‘2019 knocked me completely,’ Rachel said.
‘I’d suffered two miscarriages which triggered a spiral of mental illness, and my five-year relationship fell apart.
‘By December, I was receiving daily care from the crisis mental health team, signed off work, barely functioning.
‘With the help of professionals, I pulled myself to a standing position, but I knew I needed to get away to really heal from the traumas of that year.
‘So I left my job, my home and my relationship to catch a one-way flight to Melbourne and press reset,’ she added.
Once back in the UK in March 2020, the writer – who hadn’t been on a date in five years – was ready to get back out there, but had to navigate this around living with her ex. But she is now pregnant with her new boyfriend Theo’s baby (pictured together)
Rachel spent months travelling solo around South East Asia and New Zealand – before her adventures came to a premature end in March as she was forced to return to London before borders shut.
With nowhere else to stay but the home she still owned with her ex, Rachel prepared to spend 24/7 locked down with the man who had broken her heart.
But having invested months in improving her confidence and mental health, Rachel didn’t want to put her love life on hold.
So she tried online dating for the first time – going on dates with David in the next room.
The writer said: ‘I was obviously nervous about how it would be, but luckily we managed to remain civil.
‘I wanted to keep my online dating quiet. While we had to live in the same place, I didn’t want to create a bad atmosphere,’ she added.
Rachel spent months travelling solo around South East Asia and New Zealand – before her adventures came to a premature end in March as she was forced to return to London before borders shut. With nowhere else to stay but the home she still owned with her ex, Rachel prepared to spend 24/7 locked down with the man who had broken her heart. She is pictured on a train heading for a date
The pair managed to get along as friends, and even did lockdown activities together.
‘David and I had agreed there was no point going over why the relationship ended or getting into arguments, so we spent time doing normal things together – like having BBQs in the heatwave and watching Tiger King.
‘As for the dating, I knew the odds were against me, starting over at my age.
‘I had come to accept that I might not meet someone and start the family I’d always hoped for – and that was okay.
‘But I didn’t want to shut down all prospects, so two months into lockdown I signed up to dating apps for the first time in my life.
‘I hadn’t had a first date in five years, so I needed a crash course.
‘It was awkward when I had a video date, but luckily, my ex and I had a two-bed flat and a garden, so I could find some privacy.
Rachel, pictured while travelling, started off slow, with park dates once restrictions allowed but felt it was difficult to establish a connection due to social distancing.
‘But it felt wrong putting on a face of makeup just to be at home.
‘I think David suspected I was online dating at one point, because he told me getting into a new relationship was the last thing he wanted to do.’
Rachel started off slow, with park dates once restrictions allowed but felt it was difficult to establish a connection due to social distancing.
She said: ‘I went on a few park dates which was a gentle introduction to dating, helpful for a novice like me.
‘But it’s virtually impossible to tell if you have any chemistry sat two metres apart on a Sunday afternoon.
When summer hit, Rachel upped her dating game and that’s when she met Theo (pictured) 40, her current boyfriend – who works as a copywriter and lived just a few miles away.
‘In the pre-date chat that awkward question would usually come up: “what’s your lockdown situation, who do you live with?” I had to suss out whether it was worth going into detail.
‘If I was getting on with someone, I’d usually tell them the truth, and they were always pretty good about it.’
When summer hit, Rachel upped her dating game and that’s when she met Theo, 40, her current boyfriend – who works as a copywriter and lived just a few miles away.
She said: ‘At the time, David was over in Spain visiting family, which gave me the space I needed to focus on my new life.
‘Our flat was in the process of being sold and I could see an end to our stressful situation.
‘With lockdown being lifted I decided to throw myself into the online dating scene.’
Rachel had flings while travelling which meant it was less nerve racking when she went on first dates
‘I’d had a fling in New Zealand with a gorgeous Kiwi musician before I came back to London so I felt ready to meet someone new but it was a lot more nerve-wracking having formal first dates.
‘When I first matched with Theo, we chatted for hours online. We had the same slightly odd sense of humour and a lot of shared experiences, the conversation felt natural.
‘He was first date number 12, if you count the virtual dates and park walks of early lockdown.
‘I wasn’t holding out much hope but when I hopped off my bike to meet him he looked like his pictures, hadn’t lied about his height and had a warmth about him.
‘We drank wine while swapping travelling tales.’
But things nearly came to an early end.
Theo had only just come out of a year-long relationship and realised he wasn’t ready to date properly.
Rachel said: ‘I was glad he’d been honest about it after our first two dates, rather than stringing me along. I was disappointed of course.
‘We’d had a connection but it just wasn’t the right time. We decided to stay in touch, as we’d got on well but I was very transparent about continuing to date.
Theo had only just come out of a year-long relationship and realised he wasn’t ready to date properly
‘I went on a few more dates – with an accountant from Clapham, a ski instructor and a psychologist from east London. But nobody really measured up.’
In September, Theo got back in touch – sending a romantic email to Rachel in the hopes that she was single.
She said: ‘I was stunned when I read the email.
‘He explained that he’d been taken by surprise at meeting someone who had this mix of all the things he’d wanted in a partner, and he didn’t want to throw that away.
‘We started things back up again slowly, mostly just sharing links to music we liked or funny memes.
‘But at some point it switched and we started talking on a deeper level, sharing our vulnerabilities and fears. I spoke about my history of mental illness, and it never fazed him.
‘Theo never met David, there was no cross-over but he knew that I lived with my ex and totally understood.
‘Over the next couple of months, Theo became my support bubble.
‘We spent time at each other’s places, made fancy dinners and drank cocktails. We even managed a weekend away in the New Forest when restrictions were briefly lifted.’
Pictured: Rachel’s new year’s eve dinner. She spent Christmas with Theo and fell pregnant in January
The couple met up once a week to keep things ‘exciting’ but by Christmas, they decided to take the plunge – and after meeting each other’s families on Zoom, moved in together.
She said: ‘I wouldn’t normally move this fast but we were both at an age where we knew what we wanted, had been in relationships before and things just felt right.
‘Starting a relationship in lockdown does intensify things. You spend a lot of time with just each other for company and learn a lot.
‘I’ve never seen him with his friends or family, have no idea what he’s like on the dance floor or whether he’s a good holiday companion.
‘Hopefully they won’t be deal breakers when we do experience them.’
As for Rachel’s ex, the pair left things amicably and she’s told him about her new relationship out of respect, but they aren’t in touch.
‘When my old flat sold and David and I said our final goodbyes, it was a mixture of relief and sadness, but I knew we weren’t going to be able to be friends.
‘But we will always care for each other.’
In January 2021, Rachel discovered she was pregnant, something she and Theo had talked about – but hadn’t expected to happen so soon.
Their baby is due in September, and the pair recently shared the news with friends and family.
Neither has met the other’s family in person due to the pandemic.
Rachel added: ‘It was a surprise and a blessing.
‘After losing two babies in 2019 and thinking I may never have my own family, I feel incredibly lucky to have this second chance with someone special.
‘I was upset the pandemic cut my travel dreams short, but it turned out to be the greatest gift.’