Although anyone can struggle with feeling isolated during the COVID-19 lockdown, single people living alone can be especially hard-hit. However, if you are single, you are hardly alone. In 2017, the Census Bureau reported that 45 percent of all Americans are single – either divorced, widowed, or never married. Some live with other people, which can help, but many others live alone. Just knowing this won’t ease your loneliness, but it can at least help reinforce that others are in the same boat. In addition to knowing this, there are some things you can do to ease your loneliness:
Remember that you don’t need to wait until you are part of a couple to feel connected. You can feel part of something bigger by giving of yourself – to those you love, to individuals in need, as well as to charities. So, you can connect by being truly present with those you live with (if you share your home) and while video chatting with family or friends. You can also offer to be there for others who are struggling. You might offer to talk (on the phone or by video) with someone who is isolated, struggling with something painful (such as the death of a loved one), or not feeling well. You might also foster a dog from a shelter. All of these ways of connecting can help alleviate your loneliness. It can also help alleviate your anxiety as it empowers you to have a positive influence during this time when so much is out of our control.
Allow for your sadness and accept support from others. If you are lonely or sad, accept those your feelings. Talk to yourself, as you would a good friend – being compassionate to your pain. Talk with those who care about you, giving them the opportunity to comfort you and to feel good about themselves for being a good friend.
Think about your expectations. When people are not part of a couple, they can too easily imagine that everyone else is happily enjoying the comfort of a shared home with family. The reality is a lot less idyllic. Many people are single, separated, divorced, unhappily married, or widowed. Those in happy marriages might have serious illnesses, have people living with them who who require their extensive help, or experience financial problems or major conflicts in their families. These reflections won’t change your situation, but it can help you feel less isolated or different from the rest of humanity just because of your struggles.
Keep dating. A big part of dating these days happens online. So, you can use this lockdown time to explore potential partners. If you find someone who interests you, continue getting to know them by phone or even video dates. An important caveat, though, is that you would benefit from maintaining other stable, supportive relationships to balance the often emotional experience of dating.
At the end of the day (or this pandemic), your overall happiness does not depend on whether you have a partner. Your happiness depends on what you do with your life and how you nurture relationships in general – both during the lockdown and beyond it.