If you are a single person in your 30s or 40s in a mostly married community who feels like they lost their spot during social distancing, how do you reconnect and re-engage?
Reconnecting During Reentry
It’s fair and accurate to say that no one knows what their social lives are going to look like during this time of re-emerging and re-engaging.
It might feel harder for single people because you’ve been more isolated than people who are living with spouses or family members. But it might feel harder for parents because you’ve been so focused on your children’s needs that it’s impossible to remember who you go to for your own socializing. Or it might be harder for senior citizens who were long encouraged during the past year to be the most fearful about social interactions.
None of those scenarios are to minimize what you’re feeling, but rather to offer you this perspective: These coming months are going to be socially tricky, non-linear in the path toward normalcy and confusing for everyone. “Lost their spot” feels like a particularly harsh commentary on social status, and I would hope that in this strange time of reentry, a lot of previously held social norms can be recalibrated for the better.
Start with yourself: What do you actually want out of any upcoming social interactions? Are you yearning for a baseline of human contact? Looking to spend time with other single people in a platonic way? Hoping to meet someone for dating? Seeking meal invitations, or people to host for Shabbat in your home? Are you mostly wondering whether other people in your community have been continuing to hang out without you?
Be honest about these answers, as they’ll help you decide what social opportunities to pursue.
After you’ve sat with this a little while, move on to talk to other people. Reach out to some people you haven’t seen in a while and approach their current situations with curiosity. Ask them what they’ve been doing for Shabbat meals lately, if they’d like to take a walk with you sometime after work or how they’re feeling about things starting to reopen. Say that you’re just starting to come out of isolation and would really like to see them. Consider the fact that people who are married have probably seen few people besides their spouses in the past year and may be grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with someone outside their household.
With Shavuot around the corner, you have the ideal upcoming test case to see whether there are meals happening outdoors, small social gatherings with other vaccinated people or other similar chances to reconnect with your community. Beyond that, it’s hard to know what the social scene will look like for anyone this summer or into the fall.
Much like I would tell a person who asked this question at any other non-pandemic point, be open to social invitations, be outgoing in offering your own invitations and be confident that you’re a person that people will be glad to see when you give them, and yourself, that opportunity.