The Reality of Self Isolating When You’re Single and Alone

Five young people open up about life under quarantine

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Quarantine is hard for everyone. But for those who are self-isolating, being alone can be even more triggering. Not having anyone to speak to IRL, cook with, eat with, workout with, or just do anything with at this point is emotionally daunting. 

While some might have chosen to stay apart from their partners, many are going through this experience alone and single. We caught up with five young Arabs to find out how it feels.

Youssef, 27, Omani
“I’m currently in Saudi, and I’m enjoying the break from work and constant travels. But it’s confusing; because I’m trying to figure out how weeks work out. Even sleeping is confusing. I’m also not used to not seeing women for so long. Also in Saudi, it’s even harder to see women anyway but this situation makes things more complicated. At times like this, I’d like to cuddle, hug or hold someone’s hand. I guess I don’t really know how to navigate my emotions right now.”

Nadia, 27, French-Tunisian
“I have never flirted as much as during quarantine. Who knows, maybe Coronavirus will bring my single life to a close. My ex has contacted me again and asked if I wanted to workout outdoors with him (of course respecting the safe distance) and I’ve been chatting with this guy I like at university and we’ve been having great literature conversations. I feel like it’s forcing us to get to know people and connect with them slowly, which I think is better. Usually, everything is so easy and immediate. I feel like quarantine flirting will develop more progressively and be deeper and more meaningful.” 

Selma, 25, French-Algerian
“Strangely, I’m doing really fine. I thought I was going to go crazy because I’m a hyperactive person and I’m constantly on the run. When I do nothing, I tend to overthink things and get sad. I thought it was going to be a nightmare but I’m realising it’s exactly what I needed. I’m kind of having a great time, I’m trying to stay as positive as possible and my followers are a great source of support. They are thanking me and telling me I’m helping them stay positive, which in return, is making me stay positive. I workout at home and I also help an elderly neighbour with his grocery shopping, so I’m staying active and also feel useful. Sometimes I ask myself if I should have joined people and isolate with a group, but then I remember that I’m very lucky and shouldn’t be complaining.. But I’m not going to lie, can’t wait for this to end so I can get romantic affection again.”

Karim, 24, Jordanian
“I feel like I’m in a movie right now. I sometimes feel lonely and anxious, and it makes me sad to be far from my family for an undetermined period of time (I study in New York). I’m not a social media person, so I’m more into reading books and watching films. But something crazy has happened to me. Just before the lockdown, I started chatting with this girl at university, and I felt like we had a lot of things in common. We started emailing each other and now it really feels like we’re in an epistolary relationship—although we only saw each other like three times maybe. We’ve been exchanging so much and everyday I wake up looking forward to writing her an email. Maybe I’ll come out of this in a relationship but right now, being single has never felt better.”

Lara, 25, Lebanese
“Considering the circumstances of self-quarantining, I feel like your emotions are much more heightened especially when it comes to dating. When you can’t see the outside world and be physically in a space with someone else makes you long for it more. Of course online dating has taken such a big role right now. The missing piece is the physical chemistry built in order to date someone. I’m currently talking to someone and we haven’t met yet but we have video called each other a few times which is very strange but it kind of is exciting in a way regardless of the outcome.”

Osama, 26, Tunisian
Although I would absolutely not refuse a hug or some non-socially distanced affection in these challenging times being single and quarantined is pretty underwhelming. For a good while I thought the constant shatter or our hectic daily lives was an escape from eventually having to face single hood or lack of companionship. Surprisingly, It showed to be way more comfortable than what I would have expected it to be. I’m not a fan of that whole self-reflection narrative but It’s been a way for me to heal from past experiences and process the past with more distance which potentially makes me ready to welcome someone back in once It all blows over.

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