6/22/2021 | By Terri L. Jones

For much of the past 15 months, restaurants, movie theaters, meeting spaces and other settings where couples traditionally get to know one another have been fully or partially off limits. Not to mention, mask-wearing and social distancing have created a physical, impenetrable barrier between people when they are together. That doesn’t seem like the most conducive environment for love to bloom. But oddly, this “love in lockdown” period has been ripe for romance, for seniors in particular, as reported by the New York Times.

Love Knows No Borders

Take Inga, 85, and her 89-year-old love, Karsten, for example. The couple had been seeing one other every day for about eight months when the border between their home countries (Inga is from the far southern part of Denmark and Karsten is in nearby northern Germany) closed due to the pandemic. Instead of resigning themselves to phone calls and Zoom, Inga and Karsten instead found a border crossing separated by little more than a flimsy plastic barrier.

Setting up chairs on either side of the border each afternoon, Karsten brought Inga gifts, and in exchange, Inga made Karsten cakes, cookies and sometimes even a warm meal. While they missed the freedom to kiss, embrace or even touch, the couple – who both had recently been widowed after many decades of marriage – talked, laughed, and drank (her coffee, him schnapps) through the long months of the pandemic. A little thing like a closed border wasn’t going to get in the way of their budding romance!

No Time Like the Present

Another couple, Sam and Millie, who are 91 and 86 respectively, had been retirement community neighbors for a quite a while. Right as COVID-19 began taking its toll on people around the globe, the pair found their casual friendship turning into something more. They knew they had to be together.

Sam and Millie became engaged in March and just a few months later, the couple tied the knot. Because they were in lockdown, only two of their fellow residents were able to attend the nuptials.

Sam explained the reason for their “love in lockdown” haste quite poetically: “What a tragedy it would be to allow a day once earned in gold to fall like water through careless fingers … We accept our golden days are numbered, and we are determined to treasure each one as they are given to us, one by one.”

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

When 71-year-old Gloria was hospitalized for a month during the pandemic (for an illness unrelated to COVID-19), Jeffrey, 76, a fellow retirement community resident, realized how much he missed his friend. During this long month, Jeffrey perpetually badgered the staff about when Gloria would be returning, admitting that his feelings for her had grown far stronger. When she was released from the hospital, the staff helped Jeffrey welcome his new love back home with balloons, flowers and a marriage proposal.

“We’re not getting any younger,” he said. But the pandemic also made him realize that he didn’t want to be alone anymore.

Retirement communities have seen an upsurge in relationships among their residents during the pandemic. Some say it’s because seniors are anxious about the pandemic and need support, while others speculate that older people are coupling up as a reaction to the isolation (an effort to find love in lockdown).

However, according to Daniel Reingold, president and chief executive of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx, “What I’m sensing is not that there’s an increased fear of mortality so much that there’s an increased appreciation for love . . .”

Related: The Top 6 Ways to Find Romance as a Senior

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones