Confessions Of A Career Woman Trying To Survive Couples Quarantine

“How many of you find yourself bringing the best of you to work, and the leftovers home?”

When I first heard these words come out of Esther Perel’s mouth in her TED Talk, The secret to desire in a long-term relationship, my heart sank. It perfectly captured the reason behind many of my breakups. In my experience, it’s hard for strong, career-minded women to find love. We find comfort in control, independence and forward-planning, not the game of gratitude or give and take.

A real-life demonstration of how I feel at home during lockdown: “Yes, I love you too but please get away from me — I have emails to check.”

Overcoming resentment

Even though James was ready for a change, he essentially tagged along with my plans to travel to America. This dynamic caused friction between us during lockdown because I often felt responsible when he was bored, unhappy or overwhelmed.

James came along for the ride. We’re now together in South Congress, Austin, and I need to appreciate that.

Finding ways to be more present

I can’t remember the exact episode, but there’s an interview between Brené Brown and Tim Ferriss in which she explains how entrepreneurs struggle to maintain relationships because they’re too focused on the future.

Being ok with who I am

As a woman that’s ambitious and outrageously organized, I can be very judgemental about how I spend my time, what I eat, and how often I exercise — just to name a few. For example, right now, I’m really feeling bleh and unfit. But over the last few weeks, I’ve realized I can’t give someone else love if I’m in a battle loving myself. Being down in the dumps makes me withdraw from James at a time we should be growing closer. So, I tell myself the gym will always be there when coronavirus is over (well, hopefully).

Yes. Pizza please.

Laughing and winging it

COVID-19 is not funny. Neither is putting your life on hold and being cooped up in a one-bedroom bungalow under stressful conditions. The only way I’ve been able to maintain some kind of sanity is by forcing myself to get silly after work.

Stuck indoors? Have some fun — it’s the only thing that’ll keep you from going crazy.

Letting go

I like to be in control. But in the last few weeks our plans have changed one million times. For instance, we’ve had 3 separate flights out of the country cancel on us (Air New Zealand, Norwegian Airlines and British Airways) in a matter of weeks.

Cancelling our wedding — but recognizing what’s really important

James and I were supposed to get married in a few weeks in Australia on May 30. But when social distancing became a thing, we received a notice from the Registry that our wedding would be postponed. We had to come to terms with the fact our travel plans were out the window, and promptly started cancelling venues, flights and accommodation organized for the big day.

Forget the wedding dress and tuxedo. This is our new COVID-19 couples attire.

Remembering life outside my bubble

I’ve made a special effort to stay in touch with friends and family over virtual happy hours and brunches. Hearing about other people’s experiences always give me perspective and gratitude, not to mention good vibes because you connect with others that care for you.



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Natalie Khoo

How to do a stint on the other side of the world, build a business, cancel your wedding & not kill your partner during a global pandemic & more. 🇦🇺🇺🇸🇬🇧