Quarantining Alone Has Benefits and Drawbacks
Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by COVID-19. From loss of life to loss of livelihood, the impact of the pandemic, as indicated by its classification, was felt around the globe.
But many people spoke about the silver lining.
Parents who were able to telework spent more time with their children. Road warriors-turned desk jockeys who were suddenly sitting in a home office instead of in their car, reinvested the time previously spent in long commutes pursuing new activities.
And instead of gaining the "Quarentine 15," many people, unable to visit their favorite restaurants found themselves losing weight and eating healthier now that they had to cook themselves.
But there really is no such thing as self-isolation when you are quarantining with your family. Singles, however, faced a far different experience.
First, let’s examine what it means to be single.
Roona Simpson in "Singleness and Self-Identity: The Significance of Partnership Status in the Narratives of Never-Married Women" (2016) notes that singleness is defined differently as a socially constructed category according to cultural variability.
She notes that regarding civil status, being single means a person who has never married, the word is often used to refer to someone who is currently without a partner.
Simpson (ibid.) notes that societal factors such as delaying (or declining) marriage and increasing instances of separation and divorce result in more people experiencing singleness.
Single parents living alone might as well be single in terms of solitude, because there is nothing "safer" from a contagion standpoint about visits from family members merely because they are blood-relatives.
But it makes a difference in terms of emotional well-being to have a good support syste — just as it did pre-pandemic.
But one frequently reported misconception regarding the perceived pandemic silver lining of flying solo, was the belief that singles were all enjoying the benefits of extra time in a way that others couldn’t.
But was that really true?
The Solo Staycation: Lonely or Luxurious?
Audrey R. Giles and Jacquelyn Oncescu in "Single Women’s Leisure during the Coronavirus Pandemic" (2020) examined the experience of self-isolation from their perspective of being two single women living alone.
Because single women engaged in solo activities more frequently than they did pre-pandemic, they report hearing comments such as: "It must be nice to have the time for that," or "I’d do anything for some time to myself," statements they recognize could lead to developing feelings of selfishness and shame for enjoying leisure activities instead of directly caring for others — even though they have no dependents.
Giles and Oncescu (ibid.) conclude that Covid-related protocols have fueled the perception that "single, professional women who are childless and live alone have a plethora of new-found time in which to engage in leisure pursuits."
But they point out that because leisure is in fact significantly relational, pandemic protocols for isolation and distancing are more likely to constrain rather than facilitate options.
Grace Gao and Linna Sai (2020) also examined pandemic-related social isolation and struggles faced by single women living alone. They observe from the standpoint of being single female academics living alone that although "the search and desire for solitude is seen as a symptom of modern life that is socially bearable, under the current pandemic, the enforced isolation of living alone is beyond our capacity."
The impact of pandemic protocols on singles apparently has not been uniformly enjoyable — if enjoyable at all. What some singles viewed as a staycation, was experienced by others as house-arrest. Perhaps both the benefits and drawbacks of singleness have been altered, although not necessarily enhanced, through enforced solitude.
This article was originally published in Psychology Today.
Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, PhD, is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ, and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance and style. Her over 4,500 media appearances include these major news outlets: CNN, Fox News Channel, HLN, FOX Business Network and weekly appearances on Newsmax. She is author of ''Red Flags'' (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of The New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House, revision). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, participates as a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, and plays the electric violin professionally with a rock band. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's Reports — More Here.
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