Dear Therapist,

I’ve been single for years and am desperate to meet someone and settle down. Lockdown has me envying everyone else who is coupled up, and feeling like a lonely loser on my own.  

I am starting to feel quite hopeless about my situation and also helpless to do anything about it when I can’t be out meeting new people.

Dear Lonely,

I’m sorry you are feeling hopeless just now. I get the sense from your brief query that you feel a bit ‘singled out’ in your distress, but know you’re not alone – so many singles are feeling similarly in these unnaturally isolating conditions.  

You mention that you’ve been single for years, so while lockdown is getting in the way of dating, it isn’t the only issue at play. With outside movements curtailed for the moment, perhaps now is a time to get curious about what internal barriers might also be a factor.

Most of us are more ambivalent about intimacy than we realise. We crave warmth and connection but are more wary – even a bit scared -  of the vulnerability that intimacy brings. I wonder what fears might have you, perhaps unconsciously, holding yourself back from relationship? Useful questions in this exploration are:

  • What are my fears about intimacy, and how are these surfacing? 
  • What am I avoiding, or protecting myself from, by living life in this way? 
  • Where in my history might this come from?’

Resist the temptation to answer these queries quickly. When we are anxious about an outcome, the inclination is to rush to find answers but useful insights often take time to surface. 

A related area of exploration is around what parts of yourself you find difficult to love or accept. Often, we seek the ‘other’ to love and accept us in our entirety but are unable to do the same for ourselves. Sometimes we even shame ourselves for having very natural human needs. 

It is difficult to find intimacy with others if we are starting from a position of alienation and division in ourselves. We will keep hiding and defending these parts, and this creates more barriers to intimacy. 

Cultivating a warmer, friendlier, more compassionate stance towards our ‘less desirable’ traits allows for a better relationship with ourselves, and consequently a more open stance towards relationship with others.


Do you have a question for Dear Therapist? Send it to [email protected] with Dear Therapist in the subject line and Charlotte Fox Weber or Kelly Hearn will get back to you.

Further reading

Being single in lockdown: how to nurture more self-compassion

Why is intimacy so complicated?

Why do I keep choosing the wrong partner?

How your attachment style changes your relationships

How an unconscious fear of intimacy can affect our relationships