From single to ‘self-partnered’ in the time of Corona

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  • Words by Marissa Cox, of Rue Rodier

    When on the 16th of March, the French President (I have been living in Paris for the past seven years) announced the country was going into a strict, but necessary lockdown and that we had 24 hours to choose where we wanted to be confined, I made a very difficult (and tearful – I cried throughout the packing process) decision to go back to the UK.

    Following a tumultuous six months where I went through a rough break-up, fractured an elbow bone and then moved apartment, the last one being the week before the aforementioned announcement, I weighed up that in my single status and living alone, I’d be better off at my mum’s with access to her company and a garden.

    But I soon discovered after a few weeks of living back ‘home’ that there’s nothing quite like being in isolation with your mum, in your late 30s, to emphasise how single and without a partner you are. Throw into the mix her boyfriend (of 20 years) and I’ve felt very much like I’ve been left on the lockdown shelf.

    I know I’m exaggerating, but it’s been food for thought. And I’ve had a LOT of time to think. Luckily I haven’t heard anything more than his gentle snoring and her white noise sound machine at night (she has tinnitus), but it has been a sobering reminder sleeping in the room next to my mum and her partner that I am not coupled up in confinement with a ‘better half’.

    And going into week seven and with still no bright shining light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, I have at times been wondering (when I allow my insecurities to surface) if I will ever find the ‘one’ let alone the ‘next one’. Despite my heightened level of Bridget Jones-esque singledom, I have however been reluctant to ‘date’ whilst in quarantine.

    After breaking up with my long-term boyfriend two years ago, I am now no stranger to dating apps and while the romantic part of me has pondered – could this in fact be the perfect opportunity to strike up a meaningful conversation and actually get to know someone, without the addition of sex? (Which can often cloud my better judgement).

    The party pooper, realistic side of my personality has contemplated how being ghosted in lockdown – without a friend’s physical shoulder to cry on or none of life’s former diversions such as parties, the gym, dancing and social drinking to distract me from a rejection – would be a whole new level of letdown. And contrary to what Hinge keeps telling me – that 70% of users would happily ‘date from home’ via video or call (really?) – I’m just not part of that majority.

    However unprecedented the time is we’re living in, which calls for unprecedented behaviour, like ‘meeting’ a potential suitor for the first time over face-time, I’m still very much in the – ‘meeting in person’ camp. I have even been avoiding Zoom calls with friends (ok, ask me again in another month).

    While I have indulged in a few conversations with some potentials (keeping to app only), I have also (very) recently come to a new found sense of enlightenment – blame the nearly daily yoga practising and listening to the likes of Alain de Botton on podcasts such as How to Fail by Elizabeth Day or Shona Virtue talking to Caggi Dunlop on her Saturn Returns podcast – and am now starting to see the positive side of my imposed celibacy.

    Besides the innocent messaging, I am – for the first time since I was 15 – not being distracted by boys. Meaning, when I’m not mourning my former life, voraciously reading or beating myself up for not having had more of my **** together BC (before Corona), I’m actually being very productive – more productive than perhaps the three months put together before we went into confinement.

    And without the opportunity to go on physical dates, I’ve been putting me, myself and I first. So now that I’ve stopped singing All by Myself in my loungewear (a mix of Arket angora wool joggers and Ernest Leoty leggings, in case you’re wondering), I have turned a corner and developed a very stoic attitude towards being ‘single’. Again I blame the podcasts. And the yoga.

    But they’re helping, along with the wine, friends, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel and the pep talks (thanks mum), to feel less ‘single and alone’ and more how Emma Watson so eloquently put it – ‘self-partnered’. And so while I patiently wait to be able to go back to Paris, to my apartment, to some semblance of my old life and perhaps dating IRL, I’m, in spite of myself, finally enjoying the freedom that being single in lockdown is affording me.

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