Lockdown, Loneliness and Love?

From a breakup to staying up until 1 am laughing over Tinder profiles with my best friend, and even going on a date – it’s been an emotional and eventful ride.

 

I won’t forget the moment that I heard the announcement on 23rd March that all of our lives were going to be a lot different for the foreseeable future. I was in the shower, listening to the broadcast on my phone. 

 

Looking back, my reaction seems to forebode the changes that happened, probably as an indirect consequence of lockdown… I fell to the floor in a state of shock, clutching my shampoo bottle to my chest, closing my eyes and counting to ten. I sat there, for what felt like hours, waiting for the black dots to stop clouding my vision. 

 

I don’t know for sure if I’ve ever had a panic attack, but this must be the closest experience I’ve had to one. I think that I knew my relationship wouldn’t survive, as if I knew me and this person, I’d spent nearly a year with would, for some reason unknown to me, be unable to maintain what we had without physical contact.

 

A few weeks into the new “normal” that was life in lockdown, communication fizzled out between us. It never officially ended; instead it was muted, disconnected, all of a sudden. 

 

With help from my friends – Zoom, we love you – too much wine and ignoring any other responsibilities, I emerged on the other side with a clearer head and, hopefully, more aware of my boundaries (and the boundaries of others), desires and the importance of self-respect. 

 

Another thing about dealing with a breakup during this time was that everyone was going through something as all of our lives have dramatically changed. I began to feel like a burden crying over something that seemed so trivial compared to the growing number of deaths reported each day, or so many people being separated from their loved ones. With a mixture of support from my friends and saving every relatable quote on Instagram, I accepted that what I was feeling was valid and healthy, even amidst a global pandemic. 

 

Getting back “out there” after a breakup typically involves hitting every bar and club with your friends in pursuit of anyone or anything to subside the empty feeling that your ex left behind. Lockdown however, means you’re stuck at home with your parents – so the most getting “out there” you can achieve is blasting the Mamma Mia soundtrack in your bedroom and pretending to be Meryl Streep. 

 

A few weeks in this state passed before I downloaded Tinder. I wasn’t expecting much to come from it when choosing photos and adding my university, so I could see fellow students – just some harmless fun and the entertainment of seeing people you already know on the app. 

 

It turns out, there’s a lot of people out there who are also spending their lockdown evenings swiping endlessly as one profile appears after another. It’s almost addictive in a way, this urge to see who magically appears on the screen for you to cast your ‘left’ or ‘right’ vote. 

 

Joining Tinder so soon after a breakup may seem a little unhealthy – but I craved attention and, I have to admit, did like the feeling that other people found me attractive, especially as I’d allowed my relationship to consume me as much as I had. By no means do I think that the opinion of others, particularly if they ‘swipe right’ based on three photos, validates you in any way – however, it did, for a while, encourage me to think about other people and see myself in a more positive light. 

 

The past few weeks for myself have been challenging and emotionally draining, as they have been for many people. Social distancing meant no physical contact, no intimacy, no meeting those close to you. For someone who had got so used to all these things with someone I felt so much for and had begun to take feeling loved for granted, this sudden absence hit hard. I’m taking this entire experience as a learning curve, the good and the bad helping me to grow into a more grateful and more confident version of myself.