(opinions) Hahn Horticulture Garden (copy)

Hahn Horticulture Garden, Sept. 23, 2018.

Meeting people in person is now a health risk, so we turn to dating apps to satisfy our natural hankering for human interaction. Some dating apps have tried to adapt to the times by giving users the option to change their settings to “socially distanced dates with masks only.” It is important that equally cautious individuals can get together right now if they choose to do so, but the truth is that regardless of how creative these apps get, most people have found that online dating right now is more trouble than it’s worth. 

We now have to confront the unfortunate reality that we can never be certain of how safe somebody has been. Regardless of how sincere somebody might seem in their assurances that they’ve remained distanced and masked, it can be hard to trust somebody we’ve never met before in person. So, we try to accept that meeting new people is not really in the cards for us as long as this virus continues to ravage our country and world. This means that most single people remain single. You’ve maybe come to terms with this fact, or you may be actively working to rectify it, especially with Valentine’s Day on the horizon. Either way, we are here to tell you what we hope you already know: being single is amazing and important. 

This is a fact that we tend to dismiss. As we socially distance and engage only with our closest friends and family (if we’re lucky), we are lonelier than we’ve ever been, so we naturally crave a romantic partner who can remedy the issue. However, it is generally unwise to engage in new relationships if we are not at peace with ourselves or our circumstances, and most of us have not made peace with our current reality. So, we should use this time to strengthen the relationships we have with ourselves — not jump into something romantic out of boredom and frustration. 

Being single is an opportunity for constant personal betterment — to get involved in your local community, to reach out to friends and to search for new hobbies. As a nation, we've used our ample free time to familiarize ourselves with the joys of baking, exercising and gaming. Learning new skills and engaging in new activities is important for preserving our mental health, particularly now when our sense of purpose can often elude us. The idea is to have a strong enough mind that when someone does come along with romantic potential, our self-worth is not contingent upon anything that this person can offer us. 

Once we have learned to appreciate ourselves and the small joys in life, we can enter new partnerships with a positive mindset. This will not only prepare us for the highs and lows of relationships, but also the added struggles of dating during a pandemic.

Not only has the pandemic left single people without much choice but to remain single — it has also kept some non-single people apart. Long-distance couples can no longer safely travel to see one another, couples attending the same school may be separated as one decides to stay on campus and another decides to live at home to save on rent; and generally, there are plenty of obstacles to dating now that didn’t exist before the pandemic. 

Then there are the lucky ones who entered the pandemic single, but who have managed to somehow settle down with someone despite all odds. Being on campus together for the past year while attempting to adapt to the myriad of new COVID-19 restrictions has brought people together in novel, intimate ways. During pre-pandemic life, we had the option to go out every weekend for dinner, movies and parties. While those things were incontestably fun, it is now a good time to get comfortable with our significant others in a less conventional setting. This way we can stay safe, but also fortify the bond we share with our loved ones in less extravagant, but more comfortable and intimate ways.   

This year especially, Valentine’s Day will likely cause us to feel a myriad of complex emotions. Along with the classic anxieties and insecurities brought on by the day, we are also dealing with feelings of loneliness incurred by a situation completely outside of our control. Regardless of whether you are single or delightfully taken, we hope you consider this: you are beyond worthy of romance, but in no way is it necessary for fulfillment. Platonic love and self-love can sustain you for life, so use this coming Valentine’s Day to reflect and to treat yourself and the special people in your life with the utmost affection, because we all deserve a little extra love right now.