The popular dating app, Tinder, recently released a warning. The company advised its users to practice “social distancing,” during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Essentially, people that were probably never going to meet up anyways, now have the perfect excuse.
But in all seriousness, it’s best to forgo dating during this time.
Which I’m no stranger to. Back in 2018, I took a voluntary leave-of-absence from the dating scene. And I’m here to tell you: it was the best decision of my life.
But I know it’s hard for people to imagine, especially when you’re single. Dating is part of the fabric of not being in a relationship. For some, it’s fun. For others, it’s simply what you do.
And while I know the pressure to find a life partner is real — hello, I was a serial monogamist for over a decade — we all have to take part in trying to stifle the spread of the Coronavirus. That, unfortunately, means putting a pause on dating.
You may be thinking, “ha! I’ve been single for years. I’ve got this.”
Or you may be yearning to cuff someone so that you’re not alone while quarantined. Either way, the question I want to pose to you is this:
Are you happy while not in a relationship?
Before you push back in outrage, I’m not suggesting you be content with the idea of singledom forever. Far from.
What I am saying, though, is that you can be happy while you’re single; a relationship is actually just a bonus. In fact, learning to love being by yourself will make you an even better partner to someone in the future.
Perhaps, while we all ride out this COVID-19 outbreak, it’s a good time to finally learn how to enjoy being alone.
A quote I love, of which the origin is unknown, is:
“You come home, make some tea, sit down in your armchair, and all around there’s silence. Everyone decides for themselves whether that’s loneliness or freedom.”
You deserve to know what the latter feels like.
Put Your Phone Down
Feeling content with life isn’t something crafted from scrolling through Instagram. It’s not found, deep in subReddits.
If you really considered it, I’m sure you’d realize that what’s behind your phone screen actually makes you feel worse. Being on your phone isn’t learning to be alone; it’s learning to distract yourself.
And with the outbreak, you’re only going to be bombarded with sensationalized news. Between that and seeing others in Insta-worthy relationships, it’s a recipe for a pessimistic mindset.
Put your phone on Do Not Disturb; delete Twitter, at least for now.
I promise you’re going to feel a massive burden leave your shoulders as you release your brain from the overstimulation.
Shift Your Mindset
Alone-ness is simply a state. It’s neither a negative or positive experience. The feeling you associate with being alone is what makes it either unbearable or enjoyable.
If you think being alone feels isolating, there’s a chance you think there’s something wrong with you; that since you’re single, you’re “unlovable.”
But the fact is that being single doesn’t mean you’re unlikeable or broken. It just means that a relationship isn’t part of your equation right now.
During this time of social-distancing, try not to think negatively about the state of being alone; you’ll only create a personal hell.
This Is a Chance to Learn How to Enjoy Being Alone
The fact that isolation is necessary is a scary thought, but everything is what we make of it. Sure, staying home means you need to balance work and watering your plants. But now you have a lot of time to get to know yourself.
And this is a huge blessing because the relationship you have with yourself is quite literally going to last you a life-time.
So now it’s time for the tough question: how do you feel about yourself?
Do you know what your values are? How do you feel when you look in the mirror? What are your goals? Passions? Beliefs?
You’d be surprised how many people don’t consider these questions. But once you do, you start to open up the door into really understanding who you are. And once that door is open, the path to happiness is a whole lot more clear.
Now comes the fun part.
Indulge in Yourself
You’ve dug up what your passions and goals are, now it’s time to let them run free.
Finish the knitting project you started years ago. Beat that video game that’s been sitting on your table for months. Do all the things you love but usually, fall to the wayside when you date.
Take it a step further and dive into your goals, too. People get so caught up with work, socializing, errands, etc. Having to stay at home means you can finally look at the bigger picture called your life.
Are you heading in a direction that makes you feel excited? Create a plan for things you want to accomplish. Take the first step, even if you’re scared.
I used my break from dating to uncover my passion for writing, which is what lead me to this very spot. Yes, I had a lot of hesitation. Yes, I had a minimal idea about what I was doing. But yes, I am beyond grateful I made those plans because now I’m doing what I love.
This break can be a good thing from you if you decide for it to be.
Reach Out to Others
Whether it be a friend or family, call people.
Just because you’re isolating doesn’t mean you need to isolate entirely. We might have to be more cautious about gathering in public, but your phone still works. During your break from dating, make it a priority to call one new person you’ve lost touch with once a week.
After being in relationship after relationship for ten years, it’s no surprise my friendships were weak or non-existent. When I finally realized how much I craved platonic relationships, it made me sad to know I neglected friendships for so long.
I’m lucky to have people that were willing to put the past in the past. Chances are, your friends want to pick up where you left off too.
Creating connections with people you’re not in a relationship with is part of creating a fulfilling life. Plus, it’ll be what keeps you from choosing future relationships that are all-consuming or bad for you.
But when all of this is done, before you go back into the world, I have my biggest suggestion.
Does Your Dating Life Make You Happy?
This break means you have a chance to take a step back and consider things.
Is dating making you happy? Do you know what you want in a partner? Do you have solid boundaries?
For a lot of people, dating makes them miserable. And I don’t think that’s how things have to be. Who you choose to meet and how you feel during the process is up to you. If you’re unhappy, it might be time to consider what you’re doing wrong.
I dated a lot of the same men. Honestly, that was my biggest cause for concern when I decided to stop dating for a year. You know the phrase “the same person just with different faces?” That could’ve been the motto for my dating life.
Once I had a chance to look at things from the outside, I realized I ignored red flags. I indulged in romantic fantasies that had zero groundings. I couldn’t blame the men, because I made the choice.
And once I saw this kind of behavior for what it was, I made changes. But I wouldn’t have been able to do that while I was caught up in the world of dating.
You have to be responsible for your dating life. You’re not a victim to the process; the control is all yours.
Figure out what changes you need to make. When you go back out into the dating field, you’re going to be happy you did.
It’s a weird reality we live in that giving up something like dating is good for our health and the common good.
But you don’t have to just roll with the punches thrown by COVID-19. You can take this time of isolation as something that makes you stronger and happier.
And when that involves bingeing whatever you want on Netflix without protest, how could that be a bad thing?