The city of Atlanta has been sheltering in place since April 3, closing down all bars, theaters, and salons. It's the same story across all of America, except that Atlanta isn't just any city: it's the epicenter of Love is Blind, a dating show premised on the idea that social distance can generate white hot romance. As such, Giannina Gibelli and Damian Powers — one of the couples who "met" separated by an opaque screen — are seasoned experts when it comes to self-quarantine.
So far, Giannina and Damian have been trying to make the best of it: shuttling between each other's apartments, staying active, and investing in their personal spaces. Damian bought Giannina a big TV for her birthday, for example; now, he's thinking about reading some books. Giannina, meanwhile, is trying to lean into the European art of leisure and has a long list of novel suggestions for him.
Read on for how else the couple is managing quarantine.
How's quarantine going? Are you spending a lot of time together?
Damian: We're both at our own apartments right now, but we have been staying between each other's places.
Giannina: We only live five minutes away from each other.
It seems there are two camps of people: those trying to stay super productive, and people who are being more flexible with themselves. Which are you?
Giannina: I've gone through both camps, including sleeping until noon, not wanting to do much and trying not to feel bad about it. I think training your body to not feel guilty about leisure [is good]. The Europeans do it. But I definitely have been productive lately. My day-in-the-life is wake up and have a lazy morning, then send a bunch of emails. It's really hard for me to go to sleep before 2 a.m. — I'm usually a night owl.
Damian: I've been trying to enjoy being off work after six or seven nonstop years of working 90 hours a week. It's definitely been a nice relaxation, but it's hard to fill your time. Every time you turn around, something's going on with the coronavirus, somebody else is infected, or another state of emergency taking place. It can bring your morale down. Every day I'm cleaning or doing laundry. I'm even thinking about reading books, which I don't normally do.
Are you spending most of the day in the same space?
Damian: We spend time at our own places during the day, and then if we meet up, it's to go for a walk or to spend the night with each other. [We're] still trying to stay in a good mindset. If I'm in a bad mood, I try not to bring that to G as much, because I don't want to interrupt her being. But we're still there for each other.
How is the division of household tasks shaking out?
Giannina: Damian's always been this amazing handyman, so no matter what happens — my tires blow out, my sink backs up — he fixes it. Last week my closet literally tried to kill me, like imploded, everything fell. And Dame comes over, picks it right up, screws it back in and is like, "All right, see you later." We're lucky because I like to cook all the time and Damian naturally likes to fix things.
Damian: I think being in quarantine is like being back in the pods, where you can think about your life and what's important. What do I really want to do with my life now? Do I want to go back to a corporate job, or do I want to be able to relate to people more? Do me and G want to do something together? I'm working on ideas for what happens after quarantine, too, not just how to get through it.
How has your media consumption changed? Are you looking at Instagram more?
Giannina: I've been trying to focus on, "How I can incorporate being outside?" more than, "How can I stay inside?" I try to fill my time with nature walks or being in the sun. I think while I'm outside, I'll probably look at Instagram for five hours while I'm tanning, for sure.
Damian: I have dipped back into movies and TV shows, and then I'll pause it halfway through and go onto the rooftop just because I feel like [I'm having] mini anxiety attacks. What am I doing? I'm withering away sitting here, I feel guilty doing this. [I'm] still trying to stay very active if I can, just like I'm locked up in a cage or a pod, you know? And I'm a big guy. I don't want to be contained.
Giannina: He's like a Labrador, and you know how they need to get out all that energy? You got to let him outside for a walk, he's kind of like that.
Which one of you is harder to be trapped in a house with?
Giannina: I feel like it's both of us.
Damian: I feel like she can ... Yeah, you know. Everybody has their moments.
Giannina: Are you trying to say me, but you're afraid to say me?
Damian: No, I'm not afraid to say you, I'm just trying to be careful about it, but yeah, her. I feel like she can sit in the house on her computer all day easier than me. I get stir crazy and she's fine just sitting in her place. I may not stay at her house, but I'll go over there two or three times a day and leave, and she's like, "Why are you leaving? Stay here." I don't want to stay, I want to be doing something. At night I like to settle down. I can handle that.
One thing that was so refreshing on the show is how frank you guys were about sex. How is quarantine affecting your sex life?
Giannina: I think it's been a very positive balance. We can cuddle in the middle of the day just because you want to feel someone's warmth, you know. Or you don't have to. It's just nice to have that person that feels like you're home right next to you.
This interview has been edited and condensed.