Valentine’s Day Is Always Annoying For Single People But Lockdown Makes It Lonely
I’ve never been particularly invested in Valentine’s Day, whatever my relationship status is on the day in question.
Honestly, my happiest Valentine’s Day in recent memory is probably an evening spent with some of my platonically favourite people, getting through ridiculous amounts of cheese, wine and gossip while watching Death Becomes Her.
Having been single for over three years now, I wouldn’t exactly say I pine for big bunches of flowers and sparkly cards on the big day itself. In fact, under usual circumstances, I like hearing about friends’ romantic dinner plans, in keeping with my favourite hobby of perusing restaurant menus.
To be honest, as someone who kind of likes all holidays, I kind of like Valentine’s Day with all its unabashed corniness. I like the silly gestures and the heart shaped biscuits and the greetings cards that make you wince, but also smile a bit.
Like many people, I had a fairly busy social life before the pandemic and – in a different timeline – would most probably have spent Valentine’s weekend 2021 out dancing with my best friend. We might have had sickly themed cocktails and would definitely have stopped off for pizza on the way home.
Any lurking feelings of loneliness would have drifted away in the loud darkness of the nightclub, and I would have felt grateful for having mates and a family and a job that doesn’t make me want to run away and start a new life for myself every Monday morning. I might have even have had a cheeky snog.
Instead, I will quite possibly be spending this February 14 curled up with a well of tea, reading a new true crime book and, quite honestly, I will be in my element. But I know there will be moments where I will look back over past romances and think about how this day might have gone, in another life.
Because, to put it lightly, it’s been a lonely, uncertain old stretch from February 2020 to February 2021, and a pink-tinged flood of social media posts depicting the glow of coupledom and romantic fulfillment will hit a little differently this year.
Having been in long-term relationships – and having shared numerous nauseating posts myself over the years – I’m only too aware that being coupled up holds its own unique stresses and frustrations.
Indeed, days like Valentine’s Day can also throw up uncomfortable, niggling thoughts for those who’ve been happily loved up for years. There are, after all, few worse things than being seated opposite each other over a beautifully prepared dinner, only to realise there’s nothing left to say.
However, with the long lockdown evenings stretched out before me – without the usual buzzy ‘what if?’ excitement of single life – the sofa certainly feels like a lonely place right now.
Late in November, US Vice President Kamala Harris advised people to check in on their single friends as the holidays approached. I would argue the same applies to Valentine’s Day, no matter how cynical you may feel towards this fluffy, glittery toothache of a day.
As per statistics from The Intro, a dating app for young London based professionals, 84% of members felt that lockdown had put their mental health under significant strain, with 87% of members believing their mental health issues had been heightened due to being single. Sadly, 80% of members admitted to feeling loneliness on a regular basis.
When discussing the longer lasting effects, 77% of members noted that their desire to find a partner had increased, a longing which had been directly influenced by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
One member said:
People often talk about how difficult it must be for couples living together 24/7 when they previously had opportunities to go out and have their own separate time, but what about single people? This situation we’re in sucks.
I spoke with Jen Kaarlo, a digital content strategist and writer who – like so many people – has endured a fair bit of heartbreak over the course of the pandemic.
Jen told UNILAD:
I was unexpectedly dumped between the first and second lockdown following a romantic 10-day getaway without a reason other than I can’t see us ‘making it 40 years’. I kept thinking that if we both almost make it to 80 we’d both be lucky.
Not only is Jen not looking forward to Valentine’s Day, she’s also ‘grown to resent weekends’, explaining:
It all just feels like a giant void. Despite killing it at work (I’m currently working about 70 to 80 hours a week), there’s nothing to distract me when the clock strikes 6pm on Friday evenings.
It’s just me reminiscing about my past while my future is perpetually on pause.
I can completely relate to this sentiment, and know I’m far from the only one. No matter how over that person you think you might be, you’d have to have the restraint of a Saint not to have the odd cheeky snoop on your ex’s social media profiles while staring down another dull lockdown weekend.
I’ve personally found myself drifting back over the most random and inconsequential of encounters, wondering what would have happened if I’d texted some half forgotten person back, or if I’d made more of an effort to push for a third or fourth date.
Would I now be cosied up with matching mugs and ‘one of our box sets’ if I’d been aware of what was to come? Would I have someone to make banana bread for and send Jackie Weaver memes to across the living room?
As much as I enjoy hearing about love persevering in the midst of so much sadness, there is also the constant knowledge that such matters have been pushed far away from me right now. That it will be a long time until I can work towards personal goals beyond attempting to teach myself calligraphy.
Jen is absolutely in sync with me on this one, telling UNILAD:
I’m so over seeing all these I met, moved in, and got engaged while in lockdown stories. I know there is a desperate need for positive and uplifting features, but it makes this current experience feel even more isolating when there aren’t stories out there like ours to relate to.
It’s much less fun and Instagram-able to consider what February 14 will hold for many single people in lockdown, perhaps a jacket potato and a long, solitary scroll through Netflix. But it’s important to recognise and share such stories, to remember that it’s okay to feel a bit lonely and lost right now.
Of course, the pandemic has resulted in all sorts of weird situations relationship-wise, with break-ups made all the more messy by the technicalities of lockdown.
It’s been very much a ‘make or break’ time for many couples, with the ongoing crisis forcing many of us to re-evaluate our lives and what we want for ourselves in the long-term.
According to research published by Relate back in July 2020, which surveyed those in relationships, one in 10 respondents (10%) stated lockdown had made them realise they wanted to propose. Meanwhile, 8% came to the understanding that they needed to end their relationship altogether.
I spoke with Sandra Stachowicz, an Edinburgh based book strategist and author who – until recently – was engaged to her partner of eight years. Although the pandemic strengthened their relationship, the couple ultimately decided to consciously uncouple following irretrievable differences.
The long-term couple called it a day just a few short days before Valentine’s Day 2020. As they are still sharing a flat, they will be spending Valentine’s Day together, but in separate rooms.
Sandra, who plans to leave Scotland behind for Moldova or Armenia, is still ‘very much looked forward to Valentine’s Day this year’, remarking that ‘Valentine’s Day is all about love, not just romantic love’.
I do feel loved so what is there not to feel excited about? This Valentine’s Day is not so much about celebrating us as a couple but celebrating ME as a woman.
I am planning a self-care ritual with Espom salts, bubble bath, a glass of red and I will get myself a nice bouquet of flowers, put on my best dress, make up and do my hair up to celebrate my goddess self. Throw in homemade cheesecake to the mix and I will feel absolutely divine!
Others can only love us to the extent we love ourselves and I do love myself.
Sandra will kick off February 14 by participating in an online Bloom conference, ‘sending a strong message that we are all loved and loveable, feeling loved up by the audience and empowering other single men and women who may be feeling a bit lonely on that day’. Honestly, this sounds quite lovely.
With Valentine’s Day about to rear its flowery, gaudy head above the unrelenting greyness of the pandemic, so many old hurts and regrets will too push their way to the surface.
According to statistics from dating app Hinge, nine out of 10 users won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year. However, there have been notable changes in the way they view dating, which suggests this weekend could be a time for thoughtful introspection and self love.
Since the first lockdown, over two-thirds (69%) of Hinge users are thinking more about what they’re really looking for in a partner, while half (50%) have stopped chasing those who aren’t interested in them.
A further 48% of Hinge users reported adopting healthier dating habits during 2020, due to having time to reflect over lockdown.
Meanwhile, separate research from dating app Badoo found that 46% of singles this year are using Valentine’s Day to celebrate friendship (46%), while 61% are using it to feel grateful for all kinds of love.
This sense of self-reflection and quiet gratitude is a clear focus among many of those I’ve spoken to, including singer/songwriter Simon Coulson.
Although Simon’s last relationship ended in November, he is actually feeling ‘pretty buoyant about being single this Valentine’s Day’, having his dogs for company and an exercise routine which helps bolster his mental health.
Simon told UNILAD that he has written a few love songs over lockdown, so that when he does finally meet someone, ‘they’ll be ready to be serenaded’:
It’s comforting to know I’m not alone and that this year in particular millions of people will be spending the most romantic day on their own regardless of being in a relationship or not.
It really is only one day of the year and I can’t say that lockdown is the best time to be meeting someone new so I’m focussing on other outlets and will hopefully be ready to find love again once it’s acceptable to leave the house.
Although many of us are now looking to the future, beyond lockdowns and Zoom dates, it’s sometimes good to know how to cope a little bit better with the here and now.
With this in mind, I spoke with Match.com’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn, about how single people can make the most out of lockdown Valentine’s Day.
No doubt come Valentine’s Day the single ladies and lads out there will be Zooming their best mates, glass of prosecco or beer in hand.
This may, or may not, sound like your idea of a good time but it’s still a great idea to pencil in something rewarding for yourself to do, whether that’s a good workout session or movie marathon. Do something which guarantees you do something fun, whether or not you have a date lined up.
This is also a good opportunity to hit that reset button and take some time out to focus on yourself, so the next relationship you enter in your partner will have the very best version of you. And likewise, you’ll be able to get more out of the relationship by taking this time out.
Happy Valentine’s Day, whether you’re spending it in a state of passionate oblivion, or simply taking time to remember all the wonderful, loveable things about yourself.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
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