Dating And Living With Yourself During A Pandemic
Being single is the new normal.
Dating is daunting. there is a lot of stigma, confusion and anticipation surrounding it and for someone like myself who has never experienced a relationship it often leaves individuals with a sense of lacking.
But the current pandemic has taught many to live with themselves. How to appreciate and learn who they are instead of feeling confusion on why they aren’t dating.
I have never been in a relationship. I am 20 years old and for the past several years felt that I had to be in a partnership or at least have experienced one by now. I often felt that something was wrong with me as many of my friends were in relationships. Already having a low self-esteem was not useful during this period and only added to the feeling of hopelessness.
Yet, times have changed. Advancements in technology mean that the way we communicate with others has evolved. Communication is done nearly entirely online with most of my generation growing up surrounded by phones and computers. Meeting someone in real life seems impossible and the use of dating apps is increasingly popular.
With the pandemic in full swing, the tables turned. It was almost weird to be in a relationship as social distancing and lockdown restrictions meant that meeting up with strangers was inconceivable. It left many singles by themselves and for my case meant that I was forced to be happy with myself as a way of not drowning in loneliness. I learnt what I enjoyed and found activities that I wanted to do by myself such as knitting and painting. Essentially, I was dating myself. I was given an opportunity to learn what I liked and how I felt within myself. It gave me a lot of confidence that I otherwise don’t believe I could have gained. The pandemic taught me that I am enough for myself and a relationship would only add to that but wasn’t compulsory for me to be happy. I learnt to like myself.
I have still felt an overwhelming sense of pressure from family, media and friends that a relationship was a necessity rather than an accessory. For being in a relationship was a kind of validation. More recently with the pandemic this attitude has vanished and fast-tracked opinions that express being by yourself is okay. But the idea of seriously putting myself on a dating app seems eery and I am not ready for that kind of judgement.
The pandemic also taught many to date in a less physical way. Bringing back the idea of expectations and how many perceive the notion of dating, there is always that hinderance of the physical aspects. But by the pandemic restricting interactions it meant that video calling, and texting were the only ways to communicate with potential partners. This allowed many to get to know another person without the physical pressure influencing the relationship.
Although much of this seems to be a direct result of the pandemic, I think it would have happened eventually it is just that COVID accelerated the progression of dating. Technology is evolving fast and dating online is probably the most common way to go about finding a partner. But just as technology is changing so is general consensus and opinions, this generation feels free and accepting. Of course, there is exceptions but there doesn’t seem to be pressures put on people not dating, they are accepted and often heavily respected for being comfortable within themselves. Accepting that dating is not necessary for happiness provides a feeling of contentment that allows many to feel more accepting of themselves and even others.