Lockdown love: Is It Really Love or Just Loneliness?

“I am really getting attached to this girl I’ve been chatting with on a dating app. In fact, I think I’ve fallen in love. The catch is that we’ve never met,” Ankit Bose, a designer from Delhi, said during a Relationship Essentials virtual event I conducted earlier this week.

Over the past month, I’ve hosted over a dozen events via Zoom for groups of single people. If there was confusion around relationships before Covid-19, multiply it tenfold now. Meeting in real life is out of the question during the lockdown. Loneliness is hitting singles harder than it has before. This is a time when one clings to just about anything that seems to offer succour.

Another participant, Shivani, said she was quite sure her boyfriend was cheating on her. A friend sent her a screenshot of him on a dating app and shared with her the conversation they had on the app. It’s breaking her heart but she’s not willing to confront him and wants to maintain the status quo. Her boyfriend is her only support system right now. Her parents live in another city and her roommate is stranded out of the country. Similar accounts of anxiety have been echoed by others.

I find it helpful to remember that the human spirit is much stronger than we might think. In this age of instant everything, hardship can feel panic-inducing, but we have always survived; we’ve usually emerged stronger. And we can do so here too. Here are a few simple yet powerful tools that can help.

Keep your mood elevated: Right now, it’s essential to focus on what’s going well in your world. Is the air cleaner? Can you hear the birds? However small these positives may seem, paying attention to them and having a sense of gratitude will get you into a positive space. Listen to music that lifts your mood. Talk to people you enjoy having conversations with. From a relationship perspective, an elevated mood will ensure that you do not make rash decisions or become over-dependent on one person to your own detriment.

Reflect and review: You have the time; spend some of it thinking, really thinking, about what you want out of life. What drives you and gives you satisfaction? What are your key beliefs? Why? Once you’ve thought these through, make sure your conversations on dating apps are anchored by your life philosophy. This will enable you to engage with the people that are right for you, and you’ll emerge with better filters than you were using before the lockdown.

Steer clear of synthetic relationships: Falling in love with someone you’ve never met is not a relationship at all. The best approach would be to not anchor yourself to just one individual, during the lockdown. If you think you are forming a great connection with someone, make a plan to meet them when the lockdown ends and keep things light until then.

Focus some of your attention, instead, on nurturing the other relationships in your life. After all, it is in times like these that we truly realise the value of the people in our lives.

This article was first published in Hindustan Times

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