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At the start of the pandemic, staying home, binging TV shows and doing the Chole Ting workout was still novel. It was nice to disconnect and be at home with family. My days were spent reading books, watching movies and going for walks. These are all things I didn’t have time to do during the school year and before we needed to stay at home because of the pandemic. Slowly though, other people began acting like things were normal again even though COVID-19 is still ravaging the world. All the peace I found in being forced to slow down started to slip away as I was forced to see those around me begin to disregard the pandemic.

Being isolated at home because of COVID-19 brought up feelings of loneliness, making me wish I had been in a relationship before the pandemic hit. Then, I would have been able to have somebody by my side and a part of my bubble. It became harder and harder to continue to be happy being single when my friends started to go out, meet people and go on dates like nothing was wrong. Because I am so scared of getting the virus or accidently infecting somebody unknowingly, I knew dating in any capacity would be out of the question for me for now. But sometimes it seems like there are some opportunities to date safely in this era. I could meet somebody through a friend or meet someone myself who is taking this pandemic as seriously as I am. I’ve had friends try to set up me with people they know are also being safe when it comes to COVID-19, but it never works out. The promise of something coming from one of these set ups and then it never actually happening is frustrating.

Frustrating is the best way to describe dating during the pandemic — or, as I should say, the lack of a love life right now is frustrating. In the past few years in college, I have worked hard to not attach my self-worth to how men view me or if I’m dating or talking to somebody. That’s why it bothers me a lot when lately these waves of loneliness hit me and I start to miss dating and talking to people in a romantic aspect. I know this pandemic has been hard for everyone, and a common side effect of it is we are all starting to feel isolated and alone. It’s normal to miss having a romantic prospect or funny stories to tell about the many bad dates one is bound to go on in college. I still can’t help but be hard on myself for missing this. I worked hard to not want my love life or another person to dictate my emotions or how I feel about myself. When I give in and re-download dating apps, I end up deleting them the next day and feeling guilty at myself for resorting to these apps again. The reason why re-downloading these apps is so tempting to me--even if I know I’ll never meet up with the people I meet on there--is because I get a taste of that social interaction I have been deprived of since the pandemic started a year ago.

Is there a solution to the loneliness COVID-19 created? I don’t know. But, I do know that as much as I miss dating and meeting people, there are still so many positives in my life right now I’m very lucky to have. There is no way to fix the fact that dating--and honestly just existing--is more difficult right now because of the virus. However, romantic love is not the only kind of love that exists. The love I receive from my family and friends has been invaluable during this past year. When I’ve complained countless times about how lonely I am (sorry to all my friends who have heard many a rant about this), my friends have sat there, listened to me and hyped me up. Without their love and support, I would feel lonely more often. I think there’s a time, a reason and a season for everything, and right now might just be a time where being single and focusing on myself is what I need.

Hopefully, the pandemic will come to an end soon, and we will soon all be able to go out and interact with one another normally without the fear of contracting COVID-19. But until then, I want to try to challenge myself to live in the moment and not get upset by our current situation. We all miss what the world was like before the pandemic, and I have to believe we’ll get back to it soon. Dwelling on what I wish was different or becoming frustrated at myself because I don’t feel comfortable dating right now is negative. I think remembering to give yourself grace and be patient with yourself during this time is the only way to get through it. Dating and romantic love alone is not everything in life, and while it’s normal to miss it, I know I’m on my way to becoming an amazing individual on my own.

Caroline is a fourth-year sociology major at the University of Florida. She is from south Florida and loves to travel, cook, read, and listen to true crime podcasts.
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