I loved being single in lockdown
Updated: Oct 28, 2021
– now I’m in a relationship I feel like I’ve lost part of my identity
This article was originally posted in iNEWS.
During a time of huge uncertainty, I was grateful that I only had to look after myself and always had my own space to retreat to.
After yet another night of disturbed sleep, I’m tired. Waking up with a partner is meant to be the single woman’s dream, the one I’ve apparently been waiting for, but it’s been some time since we met and I still can’t sleep well with him. It’s not just the lack of precious sleep that I’m struggling with – I can’t let go of my single identity.
This feeling is not about a loss of independence or a lifestyle change, it’s about losing a sense of self and my understanding of my place in the world.
These feelings hit me as soon as we agreed we’d give the relationship a go. I was enjoying having this new person in my life a lot and I prefer my life with him in it, but for two years, I’d identified as a single woman and so when the reality of a relationship came along, my response to it was complicated.
I’m supposed to be grateful, like a princess that’s been saved by a prince from the top of a tower. However, my single life wasn’t something I needed saving from. I loved the feeling of freedom and endless possibility of flying solo. I felt like a modern, independent woman who could dance to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” with full force and put two fingers up to the societal narrative that we’re worthless if we’re not coupled up.
Being in a new relationship means that I’m transitioning out of this rebellious and spirited identity. It was me who pushed for it to become a relationship and I’m finding myself increasingly dependent and attached, which is a vulnerable and scary place for me to be in.
The pandemic cemented my appreciation of being single. During a time of huge uncertainty, I was grateful that I only had to look after myself and always had my own space to retreat to. One of my coupled-up friends told me she sometimes went to sit in her bathroom just to get some alone time and my mind would be blown by couples, passing me by, arguing during their daily lockdown walk. The peace and quiet of being a solo entity kept me sane.
As a single person, I felt part of a community of like-minded people and I fostered single friendships and valued them hugely. I’m 33, and a lot of life happened in my friendship group during the pandemic – babies were born, people moved out of London and people bought houses. The stability of my friendships comforted me when I worried that I was being left behind by other friends moving on with their lives.
For me to then enter a relationship felt like a kind of betrayal, and not just to my single friends, but to all single women. There is still some stigma around being a single woman in your thirties and so for me to leave the powerful single women club to live a life that conforms to societal expectations felt boring and conformist. However, I need not have worried – my single friends have been very supportive and happy for me and they told me that they know I’ll still be available to them.
The reassurance from my single friends is what helped me make peace with losing my single identity and I know I’ll always keep my independence and prioritise my friendships.
My friends, coupled or single, are keener than ever to do activities – and being in a relationship doesn’t mean that I won’t have time for my friends and other things that are important to me. I have lots of fun plans and holidays with friends coming up and while I’m grieving the loss of a single identity, that loss also means I’m creating space for something new. I’m excited for what comes next.