Can’t stand being in a relationship right now? Blame the handcuff season
Niamh Jordan, a 28-year-old writer in Dublin, Ireland, formed a relationship just before the pandemic. After she and her partner helped each other through a long and difficult quarantine, they decided to quit smoking in the early summer. “I wanted freedom again,” she says. “Here everything opens up again. We want to enjoy celibacy.
When the world went into lockdown last year, those who managed to nab a coveted quarantine partner may have gone out of their way to keep him. But in the midst of a post-vaccination summer, we reappeared in public life, and for some young folx, the opposite impulse set in. These people intentionally end or avoid relationships in favor of dating, socializing, and the joys of good old-fashioned hoeing.
“The pandemic has confronted us with our own mortality,” says psychologist Jaime Zuckerman, based in Pennsylvania. “We took stock of our relationships – those that worked for us and those that didn’t. As a result, many people took a YOLO approach to their lives and relationships during the pandemic. In other words, we’re all suddenly overly aware that life is short and that some of us “just want to have fun, keep things casual and not settle into a relationship.”
There is more than anecdotal evidence for this; some recent data indicates a collective “demotment season”. In a May 2021 Tinder poll of 1,000 Americans aged 18 to 34, 40% of those polled said they would consider breaking up with their current partner before summer, and 53% of Gen-Zers already had ended a relationship this year.
Some of these breakups arose from the realization by people that after spending a lot of time with their partners, the relationship was not working. Many experts say this is because when couples have been forced to spend a lot of time together, new light has been shed on their “flaws” or differences in values. “We have very different worldviews, and it never really worked out in the end,” Jordan said of his own relationship. “I think the pandemic has really brought this to the fore. “
Since his split, Jordan has returned to Tinder looking for a summer fling but nothing serious. “Meeting new people is exciting, and I missed it as a couple and stuck,” she says. With a lot of people feeling this way, the dating pool is now full of singles eager to meet.
Being alone in the pandemic has taught me how much I value my own business rather than settling for a date with a dud. Men are not worth the emotional mess.
Likewise, some who were already single when the country began to reopen are consciously choosing to remain alone and open to romantic and sexual relationships. Vincent de Boer, music producer in the Netherlands, is one of them. “I am not bound by any rule or judgment of anyone, and during the summer without COVID-19 rules, I can move around freely and do whatever I want – which I feel is necessary after a year of confinement. in my own home, “he says.” I can kiss who I want, kiss who I want, etc. “
But the desire to avoid relationships right now isn’t always about looking for dating or casual relationships – sometimes it’s about spending time with friends and enjoying what this new world has to offer. Jordan, for example, can’t wait to travel with his single girlfriends this summer, flirt with random people, and embrace some sort of Spring Break energy.
Melissa Vitale, a publicist in Brooklyn, is excited to be traveling alone in August. “Being alone in the pandemic has taught me how much I value my own business rather than settling for a date with a dud,” she says. “Men are not worth the emotional mess.”
The pandemic has also made many of us more comfortable being alone. In a Kinsey Institute survey of 2,000 American adults conducted between May 27 and June 5, a third of single people said they were more satisfied with being single now than before the pandemic. Similarly, in a survey conducted between April and June of over 4,000 Bumble users, the dating app found that 55% of people were less willing to compromise for a relationship than they were not before COVID-19.
Others are exhausted from the messy relationships they had during the lockdown and want to spend time away from all the drama. “I was in a questionable relationship when the pandemic started, and it ended and it was horrible,” recalls Jen Fraenkel, project manager in New York. “I don’t want to be tied to more pain.”
And some breakups took a long time to come – the pandemic simply pushed them back because people wanted companions during social distancing. “I was often alone last year, and I’m a little fed up. It’s nice to have someone I love to be with, ”says Jamie Hickey, a web designer in Philadelphia, who is considering breaking up with his girlfriend now that things are back to normal.
“She’s introverted and doesn’t like going out,” he explains. “This is not how I want to spend my summer, so I avoid delaying the inevitable conversation that will lead to our breaking up.”
“I suspect that some people who were considering a breakup or a divorce when the pandemic started decided to put this on hold because it suddenly became complicated to separate, and some were afraid of being alone,” explains Justin Lehmiller , social psychologist and researcher. at the Kinsey Institute. “Some of these couples are probably going to separate.”
If you’re considering breaking up with your pandemic partner, Zuckerman recommends thinking about your motivations: do you think you’ll still be happy with that choice after summer is over? Or are you eager to make a change just to get away from the past year and all of its struggles?
“It is generally recommended not to make important decisions in life, or any decision that could have important consequences, in times of crisis and heightened stress,” she says. “Emotions tend to be more labile and our heads are not as clear. We also tend to assume that everything will be better in the post-COVID future, so we may be making more reckless decisions because of this. “
And if you’re looking to partner up after just one year, that’s a common impulse too: 72% of those polled in the Kinsey Institute survey were more interested in long-term relationships than they were before COVID. -19. Broadly speaking, the pandemic may have caused people to rethink what’s best for their relationships – and whatever conclusion one comes to, what matters most is that it stems from thoughtful and honest personal reflection.