Q. Another year has passed, COVID of course, where meeting people is still a challenge. While some things have begun opening up, others remain closed. I am an older woman and have been told I am very confident, which cracks me up because I am far from it (personally). I used to do lots of volunteering where I was out and about, doing things I like, working on weak social skills, and meeting very nice people. I never met a guy to date, but I was out there.
Then COVID shut everything down and in-person volunteer things were severely cut back. Over these months I have found myself in quite a conundrum. I am a textbook introvert. I have no issues being on my own, I like quiet, I like small gatherings of limited time frames, and hate crowds. And with COVID, even though I am vaccinated and boosted, I am hesitant to go out and risk infection. On the other hand, I have to kick myself out of the house and have no problems going out on my own. I had planned on going to a recent Bruins game, but that was postponed because of COVID. I went to a (small) comedy club a few weeks ago, but five minutes into the show I just wanted to return to my quiet apartment. The comics were yelling in a small room, the humor was spouse-bashing and swearing (not my cup of tea). But I was out of the house.
I am lost. I am trying to get a basic social life but feel stymied. Zoom calls only go so far. I go to a yoga class but have nothing in common with people there; however, I am still going to yoga. I am trying to break old patterns but feel like I am beating my head against the wall. How can I shake up this apparent rut for 2022? Tried dating sites, a waste of time and money for me, and meetup things have been sparse in my area. How can an introvert not turn into a hermit?
A. Give yourself permission to take a pandemic break. Wait out this latest spike and enjoy your hobbies and alone time. This seems like a good moment to take a peaceful vacation from dating. I mean, it’s not March 2020, but assuming you’re somewhere cold, it’s not great for anything social right now.
Of course, when the stakes are low, it can be fun to interact online — to get on an app and ask for some Zoom dates, etc. It’s something to do, and when you’re done with your small social interaction, you’ll already be in pajama pants, ready to relax. Some people (clears throat) are built for Zoom dating because so much of the hassle, buildup, and “this better be worth all this effort and risk” anxiety is removed.
Also, many apps are free, and you can limit your time on them. You can give yourself from 7 to 7:30 p.m. to swipe, and move someone to text or set a Zoom date if they seem fun. Set your alarm, if it helps. This should not be hours of your day.
You are in a small rut — I’d call it a pause — at the start of 2022, but you’re not alone. Be kind to yourself and know that many of the introverts (and people trying to stay home during Omicron) are in the same place. It’s just a matter of finding them, and there’s no deadline. This will change by the day, week, month. Your feelings will too.
I am in a similar situation, divorced in my 50s, all my friends are married. I do get together with them once in a while, but decided I needed to increase my social circle. I did join a few meet-up groups for older singles and met some great people to do fun activities with. I also started volunteering more. I have not met anyone recently, but am not giving up that I will again. Stay positive and try and talk to your yoga classmates; you will be surprised to find that others are in the same situation.
I see the word “introvert” used a lot here, but I don’t think that’s the best description for you. You strike me as a “homebody.” And you sound absolutely delightful! Keep reaching out as you do, but let go of your attachment to a particular result (meeting a guy) and start noticing what your efforts do get you, rather than what they don’t.
It is not unreasonable to want to cuddle up with a book and stay warm — away from people. Give yourself a break and know this latest surge will start to dwindle as the days get longer and warmer.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.