4 major struggles for single people in self-isolation (and how to cope)

By Lea Rose Emery

Self-isolation is new territory for everyone — with plenty of new challenges along with it. Some people are balancing work and kids, some people are facing days that seem to stretch on forever, while they're furloughed from work and living alone. Some people throw themselves into hobbies and productivity, some people are taking advantage of alone time. We’re all different. But for single people, there are definitely some specific challenges during self-isolation. 

Even if you love flying solo, dealing with this level of isolation can be tough. With a partner, you have a built-in support system. Of course, that comes with its own problem — like how annoying it is that they just keep breathing and chewing and existing. But they are, you know, there.

If you’re finding self-isolation especially difficult as a single person, that’s totally understandable. The first thing to remember is that it's really common. Really, really common. And you will get through it. Here are some of the biggest problems you might be facing — and how to cope.

1. It’s easy to start worrying about the future

If you feel like being self-isolated has made you very pensive, you are not alone. It’s totally normal to feel a little ‘WTF’ about your future right now — we all are. But for single people, it can be especially tough. If you’re someone who’s always wanted to settle down, that might feel really far away right now — and if you’re someone who wants to stay single, you might be struggling with all of this time in your own head. 

Firstly, try to remember that this isn’t forever. It feels like it — boy, does it feel like it. But it isn't. So if you really want to meet someone when this is all over, then take the time to really get in touch with your needs and wants. What has worked for you in the past? What hasn’t? What are your deal breakers? What toxic behaviors can you ditch? What healthy ones can you focus on?

If you love being single but you’re struggling with all of the alone time right now, then remember that everyone is struggling with this much time in their own head. It doesn’t make you less independent, it doesn’t make you less self-sufficient. It just makes you human — and you’ll be able to embrace the rest of your fulfilled, varied life soon enough. 

2. Online dating has gone *wild*

If people who have been coupled up for years didn’t understand online dating before, they definitely don’t understand the confusing hellscape that is online dating during the coronavirus. Some daters are so unbearably horny they can’t go a minute without an innuendo or a dick pic, others are feeling emotional and laying it all bare — and some are just sitting back and watching Rome burn.

If you’re having trouble coping, feel free to take a big step back from online dating right now — it will still be there when you get back, I promise. But if you want to dive in, then make sure you’re setting boundaries to help keep you healthy. It might be that you limit the amount of time you spend scrolling, it may mean that you block anybody who's being inappropriate. Or, it might be that you embrace the fun and ridiculousness— elaborate Zoom dates by candlelight, having a double date playing Cards Against Humanity with friends, tons of weird phone sex, or just relishing in the surrealness of it all. Maybe it will turn into something more, maybe it won’t — either way, that’s OK. 

3. Self-isolating with a couple is no picnic

So not everyone is going through this — but for those who are, it can be tricky. Maybe you lived with a couple before, maybe your roommate decided to self-isolate with their significant other, but staying with a couple during lockdown can be a challenge. All of the normal stresses of living with a couple — navigating their fights, having them take over their communal face — can feel exponentially amplified when you’re spending so much time at home. 

Ideally, you’ll get along with the couple and feel comfortable enough to lay down some ground rules. Make sure that you’re getting ample time in the communal space, maybe choose days where you cook together or days when you eat separately, and find some activities you can do as a group. But if you’re friends with one person more than the other, you may want to try to negotiate some friendship time without the other person around. In either case, make sure that you speak up for yourself, because couple privilege can be a bitch. 

4. Friends are less available — especially those in relationships

Speaking of sharing space, you might feel like you’re not getting the normal attention or bonding time from your other friends, which can be difficult during stressful times like this. People tend to pull their emotional drawbridges up during a crisis, so you might feel like they don’t have the bandwidth for you — or they may just be sharing a small space with partners, kids, or friends.

This is a tricky balancing act. If it’s a close friend, it’s totally cool to suggest you have some one-on-one phone chats so you can really connect — and make sure to be vocal if you’re having a rough time and need a helping hand. But also try not to be too hard on friends that don’t have a lot of space — especially if they have kids, because they may not physically be able to shut everything else out for a proper chat. You can always reach out to other friends who you may be less close with and use it as an opportunity to reconnect. 

We’re all facing our own unique challenges right now, but if you’re struggling on your own then it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Reach out when you need help, set boundaries, make time for self-care — and remember, we will get through this. 

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