2020 has been difficult for a number of reasons, there’s no denying that. But one huge part of everyone’s life that it’s affected has been relationships – whether you’re in one, you’re casually dating, or you’ve just broken up with your SO, the pandemic has made this process incredibly challenging.
Personally, I’m not someone who dates that often. I find that I can tell pretty much straight away if I’m going to click with someone, and I just don’t have the time to waste on something that’s going nowhere. Not to sound conceited, but I don’t need any more friends and I’m perfectly happy being single. If you’re not going to enrich my life in some way, then I don’t want forced small talk and an awkward kiss at the end of the date. And when this process becomes even more difficult with lockdown and social distancing, it makes me cringe just thinking about it.
That’s why when I met my most recent ex, I was more than a little taken aback. He was charming, funny, made the first move, and he had an actual personality. To be honest, he swept me off my feet, and we dated for nearly six months until out of the blue he pulled a 180 and said he couldn’t see himself falling in love with me. Ouch. And so, just as the second lockdown started – a lockdown I had imagined potentially isolating with him, making dinner, movie nights, long walks in the countryside, you know the sappy, romantic drill – we split up. Sure, it was the most civil breakup I’ve ever had, but that didn’t change the fact I was faced with four weeks sitting alone, in a flat surrounded by everything that reminded me of him, with no way of seeing my support network, and feeling like my entire world had collapsed.
I’ve been through breakups before, but this was a uniquely heart-breaking pain that spread through my entire body and felt like it was never going to get better. There was simply nothing I could do to take my mind off of it or distract myself. I couldn’t get dressed up to go out and flirt with people for a confidence boost, I couldn’t take myself on dates to fall in love with being single all over again, I couldn’t even cuddle my best friends as we cried our way through The Notebook. My only option was to sit and embrace the pain, with his name going around on repeat in my mind as I checked his Insta for the fourth time that day (we all do it I refuse to feel ashamed for this), and I’ve truly never felt so isolated or alone.
I know I’m not alone in this. In fact, about 1 in 10 people found that lockdown and restrictions caused them to break up with their partner, and while there’s no denying that breaking up with someone is always painful, facing this reality in the middle of a pandemic can make this 10 times worse. In fact, Holly Roberts, a relationship counsellor, says the most important thing to do is “to not underestimate what a unique situation this is to break up in. It’s going to take you a while to process the situation [but] it’s really important to give yourself time and space to work through your emotions in as gentle a way as possible”.
There is a way through it, as there always is with situations like this. Suggest a walk, or a video call, or if you’re lucky enough to be in Tier 1 (looking at you Cornwall) then maybe even a pub lunch with friends. It’s about trying to do things little and often to slowly start to feel like yourself again, and allow yourself to feel the pain when it creeps back in. It might feel, now more than ever, like there are more bad days than good but the pain doesn’t last forever.
Plus, just think of the good things that come from this. You can’t get drunk and text him at 2am to come over, you’re probably not likely to run into him when you’re out and about, and with everyone sat at home with nothing to do, there are more fit lads on Hinge than ever before.
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