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Loneliness in Lockdown: How Singles Get Through Winter

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By Sarah Borufka

Contact restrictions, closed bars and restaurants, no culture: The lockdown in Corona autumn has particular hardships for singles. Many feel lonely and not seen. How do you get through the Corona autumn?

Partial lockdown and the prospect of further contact restrictions pose major challenges, especially for singles. In addition to loneliness, there is frustration that the search for a partner has been made more difficult by the Corona crisis. The 25-year-old Johanna, like many single people, misses socializing in the evening in the bar or a concert and human closeness. She only moved to Bremen in January to study.

She hadn’t really made friends there when the first lockdown came in March. “It’s a completely different dimension when you’re new in a city and don’t know anyone,” she says. “I definitely have moments when I feel lonely. During the first lockdown these were more common than during the second. Now I’m just angry at times. I feel like the measures only affect my physical health respect for people and not for their hearts or their mental health, “says Johanna.

Loneliness among the younger generation increases

Singles are no longer a marginal group, but a large part of society: In Germany, according to figures from the Federal Statistical Office, the number of single households has increased significantly over the past three decades: from 34 percent in 1991 to 42 percent in 2019. With this development, loneliness has also become an issue for younger people. This is shown by a study by the Ruhr-Uni Bochum from 2016. Although the oldest have to struggle with it the most (one in five of the over 86-year-olds said they feel lonely), they are among the 26- to 35-year-olds 15 percent complain of loneliness.

The author and politician Diana Kinnert dedicates herself to this development in her book “The New Solitude”, which will be published in March. “Loneliness increases enormously among the generation under 30, that is, Generation Z and Millennials. At first glance, this seems paradoxical: This generation is more accessible, more networked and more connected than ever. Beam apps like Tinder, social networks or sharing platforms in a social exchange in a matter of seconds, “says Kinnert. “Nevertheless, this generation suffers from loneliness. I believe that this has to do with a culture of the new capitalism, in which qualities such as agility and flexibility are rewarded. Qualities such as commitment are being neglected. However, intimacy arises where we take our time to open ourselves emotionally. However, many young people are beginning to consume interpersonal relationships. This transfers their work life to their private life. Where intimacy, commitment and responsibility are lacking, loneliness is rampant. ”

Knuffel contacts against being alone

In Belgium, the government has made an exception for single people in lockdown: unlike people who do not live alone, they are not allowed to have one, but two so-called “knuffle contacts”, i.e. receive two people outside their own household – just not at the same time. Johanna believes that singles in Germany are hardly taken into account in the government’s deliberations. “I think the measures are important and sensible, but in some points they also seem arbitrary and often as if people who live alone were simply not thought of. That’s why I now find it difficult to respect them,” she says.

Kinnert also confirms this. It is very understandable and explicitly sensible to rely on avoidance of contact as the first measure against the spread of the virus. “However, these corona measures do not pay enough attention to the specific effects on different social groups,” says the author. She also sees reasons in the perspective of politicians. “The average of the current MPs looks back on a bourgeois industrial age, in which property had a different status, living space was therefore more generous, a household meant four to six people. That is not the reality of today: the housing market forces us into urban cells. So contact restrictions have completely different effects than they did decades ago. ”

Dating in times of lockdown

And the partner search? Nadja von Saldern, who runs a psychological couples therapy practice in Berlin with her husband Clemens, is also advising many singles these days. Most of them are used to looking after themselves – but many still lack the sociability and the prospect of meeting a potential partner in the pub in the evening. “That is why many are more likely to try to come to terms with themselves and to reflect on themselves. The motivation to leave the comfort zone is rather low, and many seem to be more phlegmatic,” says the therapist. In addition, there are few options for appointments. A walk in the park is a popular option. “But after that there isn’t much to choose from except: To you or to me? I find that problematic.”

She is also concerned about the effects of the corona measures on the mental health of single people. “From my point of view, many considerations are neglected when it comes to contact restrictions and Corona measures. Love is always the alternative to fear. I find it important to take this away from people and give them hope. Many people have to do without loving ones Getting along with gestures is not an easy time, “she says.

Von Saldern advises singles to be courageous and finds it useful not to give up the search for a partner despite the lockdown. “Right now you notice that we are very social beings and need close ties to others,” says the therapist. Strengthening relationship skills, taking a closer look, reading books on the subject: all of this is a good idea. “And small, loving gestures in everyday life: a festively decorated window, a letter to your best friend, a surprise gift for the nice neighbor – you can bring some love into your life with such actions.”

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