Lock down is pretty well established now and most people seem to be following the rules – except the ‘Covidiots’ (I would use a much stronger word!) who seem to think this is all being done for the fun of it! I think I’ve coped ok so far, the idea of being on my own was more scary than it has actually been, but I’m only looking a day or two into the future. Any longer is mind blowing, and the longer it goes on, the tougher its getting.
I happily live alone, I like time to myself, but I also like being able to decide what I do – when I go out, where I go and who I go with. The issue is the sheer enormity of the change; I am used to being out and about, working, being social and having choice – the change has been huge.
My friends and I are making extra effort to stay in contact with each other – through calls, messaging, video calling – but it doesn’t take away from the fact that when the call ends, I am looking at the same walls and have no human contact. Interestingly, according to YouGov, 1 in 5 of the UK are living alone through lockdown – this surprised me as its higher than I had thought.
There is a big difference between being alone and loneliness – but I think the lines can blur. We often associate loneliness with the older generation, and our focus now is (rightly) on those older people in isolation. However, that means there may be less consideration, despite the significance of change, for those that are younger. It can be taboo to admit to being lonely when you are younger. I read an article from early 2019 (a long time before Covid-19) that said 1 in 4 18-30 year olds felt lonely, compared to 1 in 10 of the older generation.
These stats never include the ‘forgotten generation’ – a subject for a whole different post! (Google it!)
There is plenty of research that says our social relationships can be as important to our physical health as our mental one. Research links pervasive loneliness to higher mortality rates and other health complications. So, if this was a problem already, how can it be helped now?
For me, the key is knowing (and believing) that you aren’t alone and that people care. Physical presence may not be there, but that also means it is no longer a blocker – its not just those who live closest to you who you can rely on. There is so much in the press about maintaining contact with people, and also how you can go about building better relationships remotely (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-52196670).
The random acts, the unplanned ones, where you realise someone has thought of you, can really go such a long way. One friend from Uni, who I normally rarely see, has sent me the best random messages – checking in, making sure I am ok and ensuring I get a dose of his piss-taking banter. I don’t think he realises how much that means to me. Another friend decided to stop off at my house, with her family, on their daily bike ride. She appeared, sat on my wall, with a bag of chocolate! Shame I couldn’t hug her, but it is the thought that counts!
This is the year that my ‘school year’ turn 40. I have been attending lots of ‘surprise’ 40th birthday zoom calls, making up for all the missed 40th parties and nights out. One of my closest friends had a huge party planned for May that he has had to cancel, I know he is gutted. I am lucky that my 40th came in January – in fact, my party was the last time I saw many of my friends and family. Some good memories were made and I am so thankful for them. It also made me realise, that I have many great people in my life, people who really step up for me, and people I sometimes neglect and take for granted. One benefit of this time and slowing down is the ability to reflect and see what, and who, is important – I always felt too busy and didn’t have time to do things like keeping in touch with people. A lesson learnt for when we get back to (the new) normal.
If I can tell you one thing, knowing how great it feels to hear from others, remember to make the effort to reach out too…
Ultimately, Its great to think of others, and have others think of you, as it helps your get through each day. However, it doesnt stop me thinking of the future and the ultimate fear – being on my own forever!!! I dont want to be that scary lady who lives with 10 cats!!!
Clearly, living alone doesn’t automatically mean you are single – I know of couples being kept apart for various reasons. Does that mean they find it harder? or is there a sense that it will be ok eventually? I guess when lockdown eases they can get back to some level of normal, and have something to look forward to – and maybe a stronger relationship in the end. For me, the main question for when lockdown is lifted, is how are we going to able to meet new people? If I dont know ‘Mr Right’ already, how will I meet him in the future?
Don’t get me wrong, there is no issue with being single, you don’t need a partner to be happy, however I think this situation brings a laser sharp focus on the benefits of sharing your life with someone – both the good and the bad. Having someone sat next to me whilst binge watching ‘Tiger King’ (do you think Carole Baskin is to blame for Coronavirus??) or during the Zoom pub quiz would definitely help – it might give me a better chance of winning!
As I say, I don’t think I ‘need’ someone but it has made the fact I ‘want’ someone all the stronger – a companion, a team mate, someone to enjoy the good times with, whilst knowing you have the support and protection of someone through the tough times. Bonus points if they turn out to be fit! 😊
In the short term at least, this situation has made me think it’s less likely that I will meet someone. I’m lucky with life in general, and if you only get to keep what you had ‘when the music stopped’, then I have done OK. But, how are we ever going to get back to a time where you can change the path your life is taking? The more you hear about plans to lift the lockdown, the more you realise that even if you can go and see friends or family, meeting new people (in a bar, like the old days!) is hardly even imaginable.
How does dating even work now? I’m not very good at it anyway, let alone with the risk of Covid-19 hovering over it??
I have tried online dating and used a few of the sites. Paid and non-paid, I find that the men fit into one of two camps – weirdo or not interested in me! Maybe that’s just a reflection of me – I only attract weirdos? Could explain a few things!!
My friends (the married, never had to do online dating types) all say I need to try harder, it’s a numbers game etc… It’s the concept of ‘randomly talking to strangers’ which I can’t seem to get my head around! I can be pretty judgemental (not a good trait, I know and something I’m working on!!) so I need to really get to know people – not just look at a few dodgy photos.
I know some people have been embracing lockdown dating – they are arranging video calls, creating an opportunity to wash your hair and put some make up on! Arguably more relaxed than having to decide to meet in person and a good alternative to traditional first dates. But then, there are also those who have deleted the apps and don’t see the point. When will things change? If we can’t meet ‘randoms’ until there’s a vaccine, which could be ages away, what’s the point in creating new virtual relationships?
My concern is how this period of time is potentially changing my future. I’m not oblivious to my age and having less time to make decisions. I actually feel more inclined to chat to people on the apps, maybe something special will happen? But is that out of desperation, simply to counter the sense of dread? There is also a limit to the number of terrible chat up lines I can cope with – “If Corona doesnt take you out, can I?”
I think that in-person chemistry is hard to replicate – I have met with people who had, on text/phone, been full of witty chat, real charmers, and in person they are total duds! Again, that could just be me…
Maybe I should just give it up and get a cat – Pets, especially ones you can hug/stroke, are known to reduce stress and anxiety – maybe that is all I need? But no, just like Christmas, pets are not just for Coronavirus… And being the mad Cat lady is something I promised myself I will resist!
I had thought I would write this post and come up with the answers – but its raised more questions! Anyone got any advice?
Ultimately, the unknown man who serves my morning drink (I miss you!) has it right….