For many couples in lockdown, life may be one big snuggly-meal-planning excuse to spend some ‘quality time’ together. But life is not the same for single people. Many of us feel like our lives have been put on hold, like we are in limbo, on the edge of a life we can only dream of and that we have no chance of claiming any time soon.
My life is far from the Bridget-Jones-style single trope; I don’t sit in my room, soggy-eyed, and engulfed by loneliness. Of course, the feminist within me takes any chance to relentlessly declare my independence. Yet, somewhere inside me lives a constant, subtle hum of panic: panic that I will never find someone to love and be loved by in times of global disaster. While I can no longer venture out to dingy bars in a (desperate) quest to meet a stranger’s eyes across the room and fall madly in love, or drink my way through awkward Tinder dates, that panic within me has been heightened.
“As a woman who desires the love of another woman, the difficulty of finding love seems increasingly impossible.”
As I stare down the fast-approaching decade of my twenties, at the end of which society expects a ring on my finger, I feel a panic far greater than I did in the pre-covid world. Months of my life have been taken away from me. The lockdown has obliterated that small grain of optimism within me that love was coming soon. Because, unless I happen to meet the eye of another unsuspecting customer as I non-nonchalantly wander the aisles of Sainbury’s (believe me I’ve tried), it seems unlikely that I’ll meet someone on this side of 2020.
As a woman who desires the love of another woman, the difficulty of finding love seems increasingly impossible. This is not a sob-story about the difficulties of fancying members of the same sex. It is not the fault of oppression that this occurs. But it is a recognition of reality; a testament to the smaller difficulties of desiring differently that mean, even before lockdown, love already felt hard to come by. Because, while I might describe scenes of crowded bars and supermarket infatuation, coincidence is far harder to find when searching for a person of the same sex. Often, moments of coincidental, fateful, fairy-tale love are foreign to us, and to find love, our choices are limited to the dating app we plump for.
“In a world where we must often bury things in order to get through the demanding nature of our everyday lives, lockdown, in amongst the difficulties, also offers us a rare luxury: time.”
But as my hopes slowly dwindle, I have to say, my mind has been in overdrive. And I’m not the only one. It has been widely reported that, under lockdown, many people have been experiencing some rather strange dreams. A favourite of mine involved a physical manifestation of coronavirus as a slug-like creature, that jumped on me as I walked down the street.
However, something about our romantic deprivation has led to an increase in another phenomenon: daydreaming. Many of these involve obvious fantasies of going to restaurants or clubs again. But, as we yearn to fulfil the romance which we have been deprived, many people have been turning to the power of their own imaginations to fill the void. One anonymous student of St. Catharine’s college says, over several weeks, they created an “elaborate saga” in their minds that involved them falling madly in love with author Dolly Alderton, and then marrying Mel B. I’m sure there’s a novel in there somewhere. I, personally, have taken to writing some similarly elaborate stories of my own.
But while some of us might be craving romance, it should be said that this is the perfect time for self-reflection and to take a break from the world of dating. The turbulence of the modern world, especially life at Cambridge, keeps us all busy, rushing from supervisions to lectures to Cindies. Now that we have a bit more time to think we can actually evaluate our relationship with dating and relationships.
Do you seek drunken snogs in clubs for validation against your own insecurities? Do you carry shame from previous encounters? Have you based all your hopes on the eventuality of finding a relationship, believing that it will make all other problems go away? Whatever your experiences, this is the time to work through them in your mind. In a world where we must often bury things in order to get through the demanding nature of our everyday lives, lockdown, in amongst the difficulties, also offers us a rare luxury: time. Time to breath and time to heal.
So, as we come to terms with the fact that it might be a while until we can enter a bar again, and while I attempt to soothe my existential fear of perpetual singledom, all I can do is accept the temporary stasis of my love-life, reflect on my experiences, continue to swipe hopelessly through Tinder, and bask in the far-off love affairs of my mind’s creation.
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