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apocalypse

Is it the end of the world as we know it? With so much uncertainty about the future, a new dating trend is emerging known as “apocalypsing.”

The most natural thing many people want to do is connect with their loved ones whether that be family members or friends. With social distancing, we have been touched starved of human connection and physical touch is vital not only for our mental and emotional health, but our physical health, too.

When people lack love and touch (connection) in their lives, it can have a negative impact on their mental and physical well-being. Our bodies produce oxytocin (also known as the love or cuddle hormone) which plays a role in social bonding (attachment) and can help to tackle loneliness. Even a gentle touch from a stranger has been shown to reduce feelings of social exclusion.

So what does this mean for the singletons dating out there?

Researchers have found there appears to be an inflection point where the frustration and hardship of being cooped up inside suddenly gets harder to endure and the further we continue in lockdown, the more we shift into that phase.

Coping skills and tools that worked last year will perhaps not be as effective this year as reality sinks in and we experience more of the same conditions going forward. This is where there is the risk of single people hooking up with others for all sorts of reasons such as loneliness, not wanting to be isolated or alone, fearing their life is passing them by or that they are losing out on important phases of life or it’s the end of the world as we know it with so much uncertainty about what the future holds – also known as “apocalypsing”.

How do people who find themselves falling into the apocalypsing trap better navigate their feelings?

In times of chaos and disarray, we can become overwhelmed, stressed and anxious and when fear sets in, irrational behaviour and thoughts can overtake us like shacking up with someone to avoid being alone.

Most important is to keep a reality check on your emotions and be aware of why you are doing the things that you are doing, and how is it benefiting you positively or negatively. What is important to know is that it’s ok to not be ok. Things you should consider:

  • Take care of your mental health and well-being – daily routine, journalling, speaking to friends and family, exercise, reading, listening to uplifting music, podcasts, ted talks etc
  • Sign-up for online classes or forums that align with your hobbies and interests
  • Speak up if you are feeling anxious, stress or worried – make use of online coaching and counseling services.
  • If your company has an employee wellness program in place, reach out and make use of their services.
  • It’s important to seek help sooner than later whether it be as a preventative measure or if they are already feeling challenge.
  • Alternatively reach out to national support services such as LifeLine 0861 322 322 or SADAG 0800 567 567

This helps us to manage ourselves, our emotions, our home and work environment, anxiety and stress levels, be able to work through challenging situations, adopt a positive mindset and implement boundaries where necessary.

Is apocalypsing a form of infatuation or anxiety?

Based on what we have been experiencing this past year with the pandemic, many people are experience different levels of anxiety due to their circumstances and environment and having someone to be there and provide a sense of comfort, support and nurturing, it can help to ease our anxiety.

When people lack love and touch (connection) in their lives, it can have a negative impact on their mental and physical well-being. Our bodies produce oxytocin (also known as the love or cuddle hormone) which plays a role in social bonding (attachment) and can help to tackle loneliness. Even a gentle touch from a stranger has been shown to reduce feelings of social exclusion.

How can people protect themselves from manipulation?

We all know that the beginning stages of any relationship usually consists of a mixture of attraction, infatuation and lust before love comes into play.

Rushing into a relationship to avoid feeling lonely or that life is passing you by is not your only option.

Globally, some countries are encouraging “social bubbles”. This is a restricted form of face-to-face contact where you can have contact with people outside of your household, but at the same time keeping the number of people tightly restricted, in other words keep your circle small and keep to the same circles. This way you can control who you come into contact with and reduce the possibility of being infected.

It’s also important to be very clear on why you are getting into a relationship and is it for all the right reasons? Rather err on the side of caution, if need, give yourself the 90 day rule before making any drastic steps towards commitment or shacking up.

The 90-day rule was initially aimed around not having sex with someone in the first 3 months to determine whether they really were interested in you, or just one thing however in current conditions. You can use the same principle to help you get to know each other better and help you make a more conscious and informed decision as to the longevity of the relationship instead of rushing into shacking up with someone and potentially ending up disappointed and heartbroken in the long run.

Lastly, is apocalypsing anything to feel bad about given the times we’re in?

The average person does not like to be isolated for long periods of time leaving people feeling disconnected, isolated and alone and there is the risk of depression setting in (according to the WHO, 450 million known people currently suffer from mental disorders yet only 2/3rds of these seek help).

There have been multiple research studies done on the impact and effect of loneliness on us as human beings. “In fact, research studies state that loneliness has the same impact on our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even deadlier than obesity.

So as we’ve come to realise over the past few month, change is the only constant and the more we become comfortable operating in an ever-changing environment the better off our well-being and the happier we will be.

What’s important is for individuals to seek help sooner than later, whether it be as a preventative measure or if they are feeling challenged and like they’re not coping.

Will this be the year of ‘apocalypsing’ for singletons – only time will tell.

A version of this article also appeared on the W24 website

Paula Quinsee: Relationship Expert and passionate advocate for creating healthy relationships at home, in the workplace, and against GBV, to co-create a more human connected world and positively impact people’s lives. Paula is also an international speaker and author of Embracing Conflict and Embracing No.