Like so many in our Solo Living Community, our writer, Faith, has spent the last 12 months living alone and without a romantic relationship. She writes about the challenges singles encounter when dating and looking for love during the pandemic. While living solo and being single during a pandemic has produced different attitudes towards relationships, Faith is very much open to finding her special someone. Will love blossom for Faith this spring as we see things begin to open back up?
Oh goodness – FREEDOM! At least a sniff at it. The longed awaited dates set out in the various UK roadmaps are upon us; the rule of six in a private garden, non-essential shops and hairdressers opening up – even pubs are open for outside dining. After a long, bleak winter with little to do apart from being at home or going for a walk, shoots of hope are beginning to peep through!
We can all start getting on with our lives now.
We can make up for lost time; all the things pre-Covid, we took for granted. Friends. Family. Colleagues. Holidays. Family gatherings. Milestone birthdays. Sunday lunches. Nights out with friends. Romance.
While it’s been hard for everyone, not many people can empathise with being single and living through a pandemic. My group chats have been busy with married friends moaning about their husbands, and I feel they are looking upon my single status with envy at times. Granted, I don’t have anybody driving me nuts with little opportunity for space. However, the impact of enforced isolation on our ability to date and find love is not discussed very often. Therefore, I am taking it upon myself to raise some of the issues I’ve heard about and experienced.
Single people don’t have anybody to alleviate their fears late at night
I don’t have anybody with whom I can share my fears about the impact all this will have on my son. On my livelihood. That comforting reassurance that you (should) receive when you have a supportive partner. While I am lucky to have incredible friends and family, they aren’t there to talk to as I fall asleep. Or in those sudden moments of panic when you just need somebody to tell you to take a deep breath, tell you that you’ve got your back and make you a cup of tea (or pour you a glass of wine).
No, single people don’t have that – and for those of us who want that, we’ve lost a year of trying to find it.
Singles haven’t touched anyone for an entire year
This may not be the case for everybody. However, the single people I know are craving human touch. Even though I have my boy to cuddle, it’s not quite the same as a comforting hug from a partner.
I want to walk down the street holding hands with somebody who wants to hold my hand – not a fidgety child who says holding hands is ‘embarrassing’.
I want to lie in bed with my partner on a Sunday morning.
I want somebody to snuggle up with as I’m watching (yet another) box set.
Heck, I want to eat a meal with another adult!
As brilliant as the support bubble set up is, it simply doesn’t cater for these most simple human needs.
The lives of singles could be irreversibly changed because of this pandemic
I was newly single when the pandemic struck, and although I am lucky to have a child, for many women around my age, the ability to have a child is starting to slip away. The biological clock ticks louder with every passing month. I can’t begin to imagine the frustration that women, desperate to hold a child of their own, must have faced with every passing month, locked up in their home and unable to be proactive in meeting a partner.
And it’s not as though when the magic date outlined in the pandemic roadmap materialises, everybody will go back to normal. While the pubs are technically open now, I personally feel anxious about being around so many people. Plus, the cold weather in the evening puts me off. Will everybody emerge, ready for a serious, long-term relationship? Will people want to maximise their freedom, go out with their friends, or casually date?
How much longer will women wanting children need to wait before they can start realising their dreams of motherhood? Something which many people take for granted.
I’d like to add that some men may have similar feelings if they want to start a family. However, because of biological reasons, the pressure on women is more significant in my opinion, but I do realise the same issue applies to men as well.
The lasting impact of the pandemic is not yet known. While there may be a baby boom in some quarters, there is potentially going to be a whole generation who miss their chance at parenthood simply because they lost access to finding love at a critical time in their lives.
You can’t just ditch your support bubble!
If, by some chance, you did manage to form a relationship with someone, how do you actually manage to spend time with each other? There’s a limit to how many socially distanced walks you want to go on.
“But, it’s OK, you can form a support bubble,” I’ve been told. That’s easier said than done. A support bubble is one other household, so if you were to form a new one with the person you are dating (who you have only just met), it would mean ditching your existing support bubble. Charming!
But if forming a support bubble is the only feasible option for your fledgeling relationship, you might find yourself rushing things rather than letting them develop naturally. How many relationships will be fast-tracked when they really shouldn’t be? Particularly if you have young children and it’s harder to get out to meet your dates. You might invite somebody into your home sooner than you ideally would in normal circumstances. You might feel the pandemic pressure and end up agreeing to move in because it makes logistical sense, whereas it’s not the best thing for you in the long term.
The stakes are high with pandemic dating
Plus, it’s unlikely your perfect match is to be found within your local area – the older you get, the wider you need to set your search criteria, unfortunately. Although we are now able to get out and about a bit more now, while the UK was in a national lockdown, with a very clear ‘stay at home’ ruling, you would be breaching the lockdown rules if you met up with a date from outside of your local area.
There’s also the concern about personal safety – it isn’t safe to meet up with a date in a quiet area, especially if you don’t know them very well. With the tragic case of Sarah Everard dominating news headlines recently, you can see why the pandemic makes women feel more concerned than ever about meeting strangers from the internet outside of familiar bars or coffee shops, which provide a degree of safety on a first date.
Plus, many people like multiple dating – having several first dates in a week, slowly filtering out the unsuitable and poor matches until they find a special someone. Yet again, this is a dangerous move these days as more people will be in close quarters with you, increasing the chance of the virus transmitting.
And what if sparks fly?
With the social distancing restrictions we have lived with for so long, it’s hard to get close to another person in a romantic way. You may be tempted to hold hands when you’re on a walk or to go in for a goodbye kiss, but that’s obviously against the advised rules and could cause you anxiety if you’re concerned about putting yourself or others at risk.
The usual first date nerves are amplified during a pandemic – it’s not just a case of whether you find them attractive and if the conversation flows, but you’re also concerned about how seriously they follow the rules! Do they anti-bac? Do they wear their mask correctly?
This leads to the issue of ‘exclusivity,’ which takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to lockdown dating. Are they in a bubble with you or anybody else? Can you trust they are not flouting the rules and putting you and your family at risk? If they don’t have honourable intentions, might this mean they use the lockdown and restrictions not to see you? To make way for their side-piece? You can see that the issue of fidelity in dating has never been more important!
After a very slow 2020 on the dating front (I only had one blind date), I was hoping for a bit more dating action in 2021. But, we are over a quarter of the way through, and the easing of restrictions means it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to do much dating before June. And I’m really concerned about making sure I am not wasting time on online conversations with people I cannot meet because of the rules. Or, those who aren’t serious about meeting someone and are just using online dating apps as a way of filling up their evenings because they have run out of box sets to watch.
I’m ready for something really serious next time. I want to move on with my life – I like being in a relationship, and I want to meet my special someone. But I need to be really careful because the dating landscape has changed as a result of this pandemic.
No matter what the next few months bring, I’m certainly hoping that the roadmap out of this pandemic will make way for a summer of love in 2021.