There’s a silver lining everywhere, even in a global crisis.
Let’s start with the obvious. If I’m not dating anyone or looking for a partner from home, that’s fewer potential avenues through which the virus might spread. Fewer channels than if I was attached and feeling tempted to commingle.
But surely, there must be other perks too.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.
My toilet paper is going to stretch so much further.
Look, I’m not saying that all men use too much TP, but in my experience, most men I’ve dated have been pretty good at going through household paper products at a much quicker rate than me.
I currently live in a two bedroom, 1.5 bath apartment with my daughter. I buy one large package of toilet paper for each bathroom every four or five months. We’re good. So in the midst of a pandemic with a strange shortage of certain paper products coupled with the call to hole up at home? I’ll go ahead and count my blessings for being single and not looking.
There’s no man in my life to judge my online purchases.
Speaking of toilet paper, I recently decided to restart my subscription service for some hoity toity tushie tissue. I’ve joked about buying fancy toilet paper before, but this time I’m serious.
If my fellow Americans insist upon hoarding toilet paper, I might as well be prepared with a monthly delivery myself. Even if it makes me feel strange flushing the extra money away. Though I’d rather pay more to an organic TP startup like Peach Goods than buckle to price gougers on Ebay.
Which leads me to a very relatable meme currently circulating social media.
It’s not like I need a husband to relate to this one. One of my very first thoughts when my daughter’s school closed two weeks ago was how much money I’d save by not going to Starbucks, and no longer going, well, anywhere.
Hilarious. Since then, I’ve bought my daughter a brand new desk and chair to do online school, plus seventy-something craft or coloring kits to help keep her busy while I work.
Every time I think I’m done with online shopping, some friend sends me a link about how Barbicide effectively disinfects surfaces from the coronavirus. Or, I remember that Easter is coming up and my daughter would still appreciate a (homebound) egg hunt.
Let’s be honest. I am still spending money. Sometimes, at an embarrassing pace. So it’s kind of nice knowing that I’m the one who decides when and if I shop online without judgment. There’s no buzzkill in my ear insisting that my kid doesn’t need yet another set of magic velvet posters. And there’s also no reckless yahoo encouraging me to order Buffalo Wild Wings every Tuesday for delivery just because, um, quarantine.
I get to skip a lot of difficult decisions.
Everybody is going through an enormous amount of stress during the coronavirus outbreak and I’m not just talking about takeout. Tough choices are a given right now. Personally, I feel like I’ve got enough difficult decisions ahead of me as a working single mom.
Which means I’m grateful that I don’t have to navigate big questions about dating and relationships on top of everything else. It’s not like sex and love don’t matter these days (of course they do), but I also know when I’ve got a very full plate.
People in romantic relationships, not to mention those who are still looking for love, have to navigate social distancing and online dating as these virtually uncharted waters. I just have to stay home and focus on myself and my daughter.
Am I open to falling in love? Always. Even during a pandemic. But (and this is a very big but), I have zero interest in making it happen. I don’t want to be in a romantic relationship unless it’s absolutely the right thing. And there’s nothing like a pandemic to remind me that singleness comes with plenty of praiseworthy perks.
There is nobody to please (or offend) with my appearance, but me.
Everyone’s got a different comfort level when it comes to their appearance with a romantic partner. I know some women who still don’t let their partners see them without makeup. They do the full-on Mrs. Maisel thing by setting alarms to quietly sneak into the bathroom to remove or reapply their “face.” Some folks just aren’t comfortable letting their significant other see them slum it.
Single people? Heck, we get to do whatever we like without having to concern ourselves with anyone else’s opinion. Did I really spend the first week of quarantine on the couch in my pjs? Actually, it was more like two weeks. Do I feel guilty about it? Nope. Not for a minute.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s beautiful to be in a relationship where you get to be yourself and let somebody else see the good, bad, and ugly in you. But not everyone is always up for that. And sometimes, it’s plain nice not having to think about what you look like at all.
I get to focus on me, my needs, and growth.
Hunkering down at home is a good time to get back to the basics and figure out (or remember) what matters most.
For me, that means giving myself the freedom to focus on my daughter and me without other distractions. Yes, I’m still working. And yes, it’s absolutely stressful juggling work with my kid on top of being sick in this uncertain new world. It’s scary facing so many unanswered questions, and I’m not trying to downplay the fears.
Today, my daughter started her first day of long distance preschool. And do you know what?
It was freaking exhausting.
Seriously. My daughter met her little class on Zoom, had one “letter a” page to color, one “beginning sounds” worksheet, and a few videos to watch that her teacher made. I set alarms for her lunch and snack time as per her usual school day, and I can’t even tell you how many times she interrupted my work to tell me she was tired of coloring already. Keeping her on task was a lot of drama.
But (and this is a good one), it also encouraged me to schedule my own breaks. What’s one of the best things to do with an unexpected and unprecedented quarantine? Take some dang time for yourself. I can already see how this is encouraging me to schedule time to exercise, eat more nourishing meals, and practice meditation.
These precious little “me moments” would be a whole lot harder to come by if I was dating someone too.
Say it with me: Fewer streaming wars.
So, no, I haven’t watched the Tiger King documentary yet. But I have watched a lot of good television. More than my usual, for sure. (The Boys on Amazon and The Umbrella Academy on Netflix are my two current faves. But Little Fires Everywhere is quickly creeping up there.)
During these first two weeks of staying home, I’ve felt like such garbage from being sick that I let my daughter watch kids’ toy videos on her tablet… basically 24/7. This has not only allowed me to rest but also pick my own shows.
Binge watching can get complicated when you’ve got a partner in the mix though. You might be on completely different entertainment wavelengths or face conflicting streaming goals.
For single people, our biggest dilemma when it comes to streaming is simply choice overload. And how do I deal with overchoice? I make myself some simple checklists and remove the guesswork.
Don’t worry. Tiger King is coming up on next week’s list.
A little less mental labor, please.
I have to admit that as a woman who has only dated men, the emotional labor can be relentless. I can’t tell you how many times while partnered with a man, I’ve had to wonder how he ever actually survived solo.
From knowing when we’re out of paper towels or need to go grocery shopping to remembering their mother’s birthday or scheduling dentist appointments, life is even more exhausting when you’ve got a partner who doesn’t share the burden of running a household.
Unfortunately, the gendered division of labor is such a deeply-ingrained part of our culture that even talking about making improvements has the potential to blow up your average hetero relationship. Many women are used to men simply not getting it. If everything in my household is going to be up to me, I want that pressure to be my choice--especially in the middle of a global crisis.
And I surely don’t want the responsibility of managing my partner’s coronavirus staycation (something that plenty of wives, girlfriends, and mothers are now having to do).
I get to feel powerfully self-reliant.
Speaking from experience, I know what it’s like to feel lonely in every sense of the word. Lonely with good partners, lonely with toxic ones, lonely with no partner, and lonely with no family or friends, etc. I’ve learned that while circumstances can definitely make you feel more lonely, they can’t really cure your loneliness.
When you suffer from loneliness and try to fill that void with people, you find out that nothing is ever going to be enough. That’s because loneliness, while perfectly natural and human, is one bottomless pit of need.
You will never truly cure your loneliness until you learn how to enjoy self-reliance. Anyone can learn how to become self-reliant, but it’s a good idea to do it while you’re still single. Because, if you can depend solely upon yourself and love it, that will make it much harder to lose yourself in your next romance.
I’m always down for fewer people to clean up after.
It’s no secret that the coronavirus has changed our normal routines. Personally, I promptly paused our weekly housecleaning help through Molly Maids to help reduce the potential for community spread.
Cleaning up after myself and my daughter can be gross enough as it is. I don’t need another adult to clean up after and frankly, I appreciate this aspect of my single life.
Obviously, it’s not as if cleaning up after or otherwise caring for your partner is some horrible thing. Love is beautiful. But again, love is also very messy. There’s something to be said for knowing when you’ve got enough (or too much) on your plate.
Besides, I have dated at least a few dudes who made the whole “man-cold” or “man-flu” seem strangely legit. (Not all men, obviously.) Looking back on those experiences though, I’m not so sure that I want to witness the “man‐coronavirus” up close and personal.
It’s much easier to add connection than it is to avoid it at home.
Physical touch is admittedly one of my love languages, so I certainly understand that there’s really no replacement for certain forms of connection. I get it that when you’re jonesing for a warm embrace, or skin to skin contact, nothing else will do.
And yet, I still think it’s easier to temporarily go without contact (physical or not) than it is to manage overwhelm from too much stimulation.
Lately, I see a lot of couples complaining about being quarantined together and how so much togetherness puts a strain on their relationship. While some people are quick to write all of those complaints off as coming from low quality relationships, it’s possible that plenty of those folks simply require more alone time to function well.
Introversion and extroversion are spectrums. The extent of our need for other people will naturally ebb and flow. As a single, not looking introvert, I can appreciate that so many people are just a phone call or text message away. Especially since a significant other cannot (usually) be easily paused.
Telling your partner that you need more alone time can be a real hot-button issue. Many people believe that healthy couples should enjoy each other’s company at all times. Or at least, most of the time. But for some folks this isn’t feasible because connection (even the best grade A stuff) can still be incredibly draining.
I love the freedom.
Let’s be honest. It’s hard to truly love being single if you don’t also love your freedom. Over the years, single motherhood has taught me that freedom is one of my most beloved possessions in my life.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, my freedom has definitely taken a hit. I can’t always do what I want. Certainly can’t go where I want to go.
I took a lot of my freedoms for granted before this pandemic, like just placing an order on Amazon as a Prime member or simply running to the grocery store.
While I can’t exercise plenty of those freedoms when I have to stay at home and so much of the world is shut down, I am able to enjoy a great deal of freedom at home because I’m single.
Working when I want, sleeping when I feel the need, letting my daughter stay up late some nights--these are all things I enjoy without requiring anyone’s permission or approval.
I don’t have to settle or compromise on these things and especially right now, I love that about my life.
All jokes aside…
I don’t mean to say that you’ve got it better or worse whether you’re single or taken. This is a challenging time for all of us, and every arrangement has its pluses and minuses.
What seems to matter is that we can make the most of our circumstances, whatever they may be. And it certainly helps if we can laugh a bit along the way.
Laughter is, after all, the best medicine, and this novel virus comes with no vaccine.
So let’s crack a smile wherever we can.