Riley was feeling troubled about her current work situation. Because of COVID-19, she had to work longer hours to help her colleagues out who had to homeschool their children. Riley was expected to work longer hours because she didn’t have children.
She began to analyze her own life. She felt picked on because she was still single. Her parents asked, “When are you getting married?” Her friends would often ask, “Who are you dating these days?”
She started to wonder why she was still single. Was she in the right profession? Were her working hours too long? Was she attractive enough? Would she ever find someone?
She was feeling isolated because she had to social distance. She wasn’t seeing her friends as much. She put the dating apps on hold for the same reason. What was the point of chatting with someone you couldn’t meet? She began to feel more and more avoidant. At night she would go home, watch tv and drink a bottle of wine. She wanted to date but wasn’t sure how to do it during coronavirus.
Riley was facing several dilemmas. First, she felt resentful that she was being treated differently at work because she didn’t have children. She felt as if she was being punished. She started to feel as if she had done something wrong with her life. The family and social expectations made her feel worse. She began to feel ashamed about who she was. The shame felt heavy, which led to a loss of energy and more avoidance.
If you are feeling single, lonely and avoidant, here are some things to consider:
1. Social and cultural norms
Instead of social and familial expectations analyzing you, analyze these expectations: Social and cultural norms can keep societies aligned and safe. However, these norms can also add undue pressure where it isn’t needed.
For example, in some cultures, it is implied that something is wrong if you aren’t married by the time you are thirty. If we tell ourselves that it is ok to take away the deadlines and the pressure, we will feel more comfortable with our life choices. These life choices could look like going to university, having a career and waiting for the right person.
2. Avoidance is not helpful
Avoiding other people when you feel lonely, anxious or tired, doesn’t work. The more avoidant you are, the more lonely you will be. When you are tired, and you stay in and watch tv and drink, you will only become more tired. Sometimes we have to do what seems counterintuitive to grow.
3. Your dating life is up to you
Everyone wants something different out of dating. Some people want to meet a partner, some people want to make good friends, and some want something casual or short-lived. People chose what they want in dating based on their time, past experiences and what they want in the present and the future. Forcing yourself to find a life partner because of expectations is unfair to you and the person you are dating. Only you and your partner can decide when it is the best time to marry and settle down. Rushing in can lead to divorce.
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