It’s Okay to Want a Partner Right Now

Living the single life was fine. Riding out the end of the world alone is just depressing.

I don’t know about you, but this corona shit hit me like a mackerel of substantial size directly to the face.

I work alone. Very literally. I am in the single-people business, hosting a podcast designed to lift us up, celebrate us, and help us feel whole. I don’t give us bullshit dating advice, and I don’t believe in sad-ass “this is why I’m single” memes. I’m a bit of a single woman’s advocate, I suppose — in my head I pretend I’m one of the X-Men, probably Jean Grey, taking absolutely no shit and possessing the ability to destroy dick pics with her mind. I handle things, is what I’m saying. And I truly am happy spending time alone. I will never, ever give up my single life for the wrong partner.

But sweet merciful Costco memberships, I could really use the right one right now.

A few days ago, for the first time since maybe the Obama administration, I found myself wanting a husband. And I wanted one bad. I felt deeply alone, afraid, and isolated from the world in a way I have never experienced. Before, when I felt lonely, it was because I wanted partnership to validate me, to be able to tell myself I was desired, all that horse poop. But now I need someone around because the world is terrifying and uncertain and I think the best tool for getting through this is love.

And I’m not in love. No one loves me, and it feels like the world’s in a war. I feel alone in a war. I am typically tough as burnt lamb chops — but you guys, this kind of lonely is a motherfucker.

This was unexpected. Yes, the virus, but also my sadness. At first glance, social isolation didn’t sound so bad. It didn’t seem so different from what I do every other day of my life. I work from home, and there are weeks when I don’t technically have to leave home other than for groceries. I have essentially been living that corona life for years.

But true to human form, the second I realized I had to abstain from a social life, I wanted a social life. Me, who prefers, if not demands, to live her life in no-plans-pants. Where once I would have considered nothing more exciting than canceled plans, now I look at the ghost town that is my calendar with actual fear. There’s nothing there. No dinner plans, no in-person meetings, not the trip to London and Paris I’ve been waiting to take for two years. What is happening to me? I don’t care about not having plans! I don’t mind being alone! I prefer it!

I don’t feel unprepared or ill-stocked for a shelter-in-place lifestyle. My freelance lifestyle and natural inner paranoia have allowed to me to stock my apartment with necessaries for weeks. The minute any whispers of impending doom circulate, I am the first person shipping a case of toilet paper and gallons of emergency water to my door. It wasn’t the practicalities of having to do all this prep alone that got me. I don’t even think it was the suddenly silent social calendar. I think it’s just knowing that when the shit hits the fan — and it is currently hitting it — I won’t have anyone around. Living the single life was just fine. Riding out the end of the world alone is fucking depressing.

It wasn’t like I had a ton of contact before—human contact, that is; I force hugs upon the cat all day—but now I almost feel hollow, like a shell of a person who would somehow be filled up if there was someone around to have a cup of tea with and pause the Netflix to discuss something I have questions about. I’m the one sending the texts and emails to check on people, while no one’s really asking about me. (Except a single girlfriend of mine — we bitches take care of our own.)

Here’s what I want you to know: It’s okay if you feel like you need a relationship now. It’s okay to feel like something’s missing at this moment. It’s okay if your ability to feel good about being alone is being tested harder than the California bar exam. It’s okay to feel jealous. It’s okay to feel scared because you don’t know what’s going to happen.

When we’re scared, human beings need community. If I have any advice here, it’s to find connection where you can. FaceTime. Group text. Group Skype. I’m in a “squat challenge” with a few friends for some reason, so sure, do that, too. Join Facebook groups, listen to lots of podcasts, and keep your apartment clean. Tackle projects around the house you’ve been putting off, and set up a good work-from-home situation for the weeks ahead. Ask your friends how they’re doing, and use social media for its intended goddamn purpose. Be as social as you can.

If you feel sad, feel it. If you’re angry, feel that, too. Acknowledge emotions, shed any guilt or shame for feeling them, and get through this the best you can. Because we will get through, this will end, and the more isolated we are now, the faster we can come together in the future. I always say to readers and listeners that we’re not alone. But the truth is that right now, we are. I see and feel and hate how alone we are right now, but rather than tell you to gloss over all the desires and emotions a global goddamn pandemic can bring up, I want to tell you to feel everything, even the things I wish we didn’t feel, and know that I’m proud of you anyway.

The coronavirus outbreak is rapidly evolving. To stay informed, check the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local health department for updates. If you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed, reach out to the Crisis Text Line.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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