Being single during coronavirus is a totally different experience from being single in normal times. I have to say, I wasn’t prepared for all the free time I would have. Like a lot of people I know, I’m somehow both busier and less busy than I was before the lockdown. Time still manages to pass rather quickly, but it’s slower at the same time.
For most of us, being single during coronavirus means dealing with this extra time. I would argue the extra time given by the coronavirus is a great opportunity to grow as a single person and get ready for the next steps in life, whatever they may be. This is because extra time means more things to do and ways to grow. Also, it means the opportunity for more prayer and self-reflection. This can mean healing and learning from the past. Finally, more time in the present can actually be used to renew meaningful connections from the past.
More Time to Grow
Being single during coronavirus may mean you have a lot more time. Of course, this isn’t true for every single person, and it is important to acknowledge that. If you do have more time, it can be exciting. Maybe you can develop a hobby or find a new one. I have played a lot more guitar these days than I did before the pandemic. That said, more time to do things can mean more time to waste. That is where setting goals becomes important. Netflix and social media are great, but they probably shouldn’t take up the entire day. One way to counter this risk of wasting time might be setting goals about free time and even making a mini schedule for it.
Of course, prayer should always be included in this schedule. More time should mean more time to pray and grow spiritually. This is where good forms of entertainment become so important. Saint Josemaria Escriva says “Books. Don’t buy them without advice from a Catholic who has real knowledge and discernment” (The Way, point 339). He would probably have said the same about watching movies and listening to music. Reading reviews and taking advice from others should usually come before making a choice of entertainment. Let’s use this time to grow and not fall back into bad habits.
The growth we do now will help us be the person we want to be when we meet someone or go towards another vocation. We can come out of this stronger and more attractive. Also, let’s face it, it’s quite hard to be attracted to someone who doesn’t have a hobby or a passion.
With extra time comes the opportunity to think about one’s life. Maybe this means assessing a relationship in the family or a career choice you’ve made. It might also involve revisiting past relationships and experiences. Thinking in a healthy way about the trajectory of one’s life up to the present can lead to helpful realizations. Why didn’t that last dating experience workout? How could we better plan for a future one? However, thinking about one’s life this way risks moroseness and self-criticism. The remedy for becoming morose is proper humility. Bring up these disappointments with God who wants us to use our gifts and will show us how. In the Parable of the Talents, the servant with one talent says “I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground” (Matthew 25:25). No matter how few talents we think we have, fear, or a false humility which is really pride should not be our attitude towards the future. God expects us to make the most of what we have. If we have buried our talents, now is the time to pray about digging them up.
This process of moving forward may require some healing and a lot of time in prayer. It could also mean seeking a spiritual director who is willing to talk over the phone. This person can also help you come up with a game plan for your next dating situation if that’s the direction you are going in. This connection will also help with loneliness.
Making Meaningful Connections
This time could also involve reconnecting with long, forgotten people from the past or even just people we avoid or don’t talk to often. The risk here might be getting on social media and reconnecting with an old, unhealthy relationship from the past. The risk might also be dwelling enviously on the accomplishments and relationships of friends on social media. The antidote is to seek out healthy, positive connections. We should remember that many people are feeling lonely and isolated now. Reaching out can be a form of apostolate and can also help us to feel less insular.
A friend I know who is a therapist likes to joke that many of his clients would stop seeing him if they just had more friends. The joke hits the mark in so far as our sense of community is not what it used to be. This is a result of many things including divorce, parents working long hours, and adult children moving far away from their homes. Also, electronic devices have made us less apt to even leave our house during normal times. Now, the coronavirus has exacerbated the situation and laid it bare. So make connections with the intent of fostering friendships, and, who knows, maybe more will happen.
A Note on Dating
I don’t think this piece would be complete without at least mentioning dating during the lockdown. My opinion is that dating can continue during coronavirus. There’s really no reason why it shouldn’t. I think people can meet in person with relatively little risk, but the diverse reactions of my family members suggest that you’ll meet some people who say no.
So, be aware that you may find yourself in a protracted, remote relationship. This has its pitfalls. Usually, seeing someone in person changes how we feel about them and vice versa. In other words, don’t assume you’ve met the one until you’ve really met them. On the other hand, if you do go out with someone in person during coronavirus, be aware of the eyebrows you may raise. Also, know that meeting someone during a crisis can skew perceptions and realities. For instance, what if your date actually always goes out shopping or socializing all the time but can’t do that now? Finally, if you do meet in person, take a walk. Don’t go to their place–that’s trouble.
Singles who started dating or met someone before the coronavirus should be careful about not overdoing the amount of time they spend together. Spending all your new free time with your date may make you think the two of you are very close when you’re not. Remember again, that you are seeing someone during a very unusual time. A time limit might help avoid obsessively thinking and interacting with someone whether online or in person. I’m not saying that this time isn’t an opportunity to really get to know someone, but just be careful.
Finally, if you are single and considering a vocation to religious life, I can’t offer much advice except to say keep praying and, hopefully, talking with a vocations director. Just because you may not be able to move forward physically with a vocation doesn’t mean that you can’t move forward with it spiritually. This advice goes for whatever your future vocation may be. All vocations require quite a bit of soul-searching and working-through things with God and others.
In this essay, I talked about steps to take while being single during the coronavirus. Extra time means the ability to develop ourselves and connect with meaningful people from the past. It also gives us time to do a deeper self-examination of ourselves which can lead to the creation of goals and habits that will steer our life in a Godly direction. These things can help prepare us for the next steps in our life. What we do now will impact the future.