“What I didn’t realise was a total lack of external stimulation would give me far too much time to… think”
BY GEORGIA BUTLER.IMAGE BY SAMANTHA GARROTE
It has been three weeks since I saw a human face, in person, to whom I am not related.
It has been two weeks since I wrote an article about dating during a pandemic.
It has been one week since I lost my mind.
I woke up this morning and stared up at my bedroom ceiling. Did you know that it’s on a 20-degree (give or take a few) slant? I didn’t. I also didn’t need to know that, but now I do. Because I have unlimited staring time.
My dating life has continued… in as much as it can. By which I mean phone calls every few days, the occasional nude photograph in case they start to forget what they’re missing out on (which has actually been upgraded to video clips of me dancing in my underwear – that’s right ladies you are lucky) and several messages lamenting what I am going to do to you when I see you. But I have been surprised that the greatest hurdle to my dating life has not actually been the distance, it has been me.
I want to get a bit real for a moment, in the hope that my vulnerability might help someone reading this. Social distancing has affected me more than I could ever imagine, and my mental health is taking the brunt of it.
This is something I am sure a lot of you can relate to. I never particularly considered myself extroverted, but what I didn’t realise was a total lack of external stimulation would give me far too much time to think. To stress about my future, where I am going in life, and what I want. Am I even – really – happy?
I am staying distracted, and I am practising self-care. But it is impossible to change the reality that this is a very lonely and scary time, and this internalised stress is making dating seem beyond reach.
I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy. I never wanted to be someone who just whines down the phone about how-hard-life-is, particularly when my life is categorically not hard. Yes, I’m frustrated. Yes, I am bored. Yes, I am lonely. But I am effectively just on a shit holiday. There are people in this lockdown who are sharing a room with their children, or who don’t even have a room to share.
I have to admit, that maybe I have a touch of the control-freakies. Life has changed drastically in these past few weeks. I lost my job and, honestly, a pretty big chunk of self-esteem and there is fuck all I can do to change this –or anything else for that matter.
As much as I enjoy dating, for the most part I am dating casually. I am talking to a few different people at any one time, which they are all aware of, and I am just enjoying myself. But when your relationships lack depth so do your conversations. There isn’t an emotional bond that makes me feel comfortable tearing my heart open for them, and I need that right now.
I need my friends. I need genuine emotional connection; I need love. And it is OK to admit that to yourself. This time will be over soon, we all know it will. But take a moment to consider what you really need. If there has ever been a time to evaluate your relationships, it is now.
I am still talking to, still dating, the people I was before the pandemic. But those interactions have a different role to me now. They are light relief and they are no longer of secondary, or even tertiary importance. For the time being, I have shut off those channels in terms of emotional vulnerability because I frankly don’t have the ad-space right now.
I’ll open them back up when the time is right.
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