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This time last year I would have described my relationship status as "painfully single". It's a funny turn of phrase, isn't it? Slightly self-depreciating and full of shame, as if "single" is a dirty word.
There's something about being perpetually unlucky in love that sticks with you. Each failed date can push you further down a rabbit hole that you can't get out of, and before you know it, you're comparing yourself to your friends in happy relationships - questioning what you did wrong, measuring your self worth on the opinion of any man who crosses your path, and clinging on to toxic situationships that you know deep down aren't going anywhere.
I'd hazard a guess this was the case for many single women before spending a year in lockdown. But could times be changing?
A scroll through social media appears to suggest that a new age is dawning when it comes to dating, and many women are citing the pandemic as the catalyst.
"I've never been so incredibly happy being single, and thankfully there's no pressure to go on dates because of lockdown and Covid," wrote one woman on Twitter.
Another said: "Being single in lockdown really made me see that you need to be happy on your [own] way before you get with someone else."
Asha, 35, a model and entrepreneur from Wolverhampton agrees. Speaking to Tyla, she says that during lockdown she has "been on a journey" of embracing who she is and what she wants in life.
"I've been single for just over two years now, and over lockdown I've had more time to focus on me and evaluate past relationships and who I was.
"I decided that the change lies within me as to who I am, who I am to become and what I should and should not accept," she says, explaining that her priority is now "creating healthy, loving boundaries".
"I will no longer settle for anything less than I desire and am worth, just for the sake of a relationship," she adds.
Jo, 28, a freelance life and fashion blogger from Leeds, also believes that being single in lockdown has given her time to "reflect and invest in herself".
"Lockdown has given me the opportunity to work on my mental health, invest in therapy, work on my physical health and get my career off the ground," she explains.
It's funny what spending 12 months alone can do for you.
Professional relationship and dating coach Hayley Quinn tells Tyla: "Successful dating isn't all about squeezing in as many dates as you can. It's actually more valuable to invest your time in working on your dating patterns, rather than just relentlessly putting yourself out there.
"When you're constantly hopping from date to date, and feel bereft if you're not actively messaging someone, you may not be making the best decisions in your dating life because you constantly [feel like you] need someone.
"Instead, what can be great for your dating life is spending time reflecting on how you feel, and what you want."
During lockdown, women have also had time to reflect on where they've been going wrong - whether that's repeatedly opting for the same sort of unavailable partner, or giving people second chances after the red flags begin to emerge.
"When you take a time out and ask yourself, 'is this working for me?' you'll be able to listen more clearly to your inner wisdom about how you could change things up for the better," says Hayley.
Juliette Karaman, a relationship coach from Feel Fully You, believes time alone also allows women to learn that they are already "a complete person".
"In society, there is always the question of 'when are you getting married?' what is happening with your relationship?'," she says. "This can be a lot of pressure on people."
She elaborates that many women tend to tell themselves "they are only worthy when in a relationship," adding that it's only when single women spend time without pursuing romance that they "start to see which patterns they are using in a relationship, how society influences the patterns they hold and how to break free of that."
"[For many] self-confidence, self-love and self-forgiveness will go through the roof, and they learn all about their boundaries - what they want, what they don't want, and what they will and will not tolerate," she says.
"If she starts dating after lockdown, she will have all of her values in play, and she will come from a place of being fully herself and look for a partner who adds to her quality of life" rather than defines it.
Personally, I've felt this exact sense of clarity over the last year. Before lockdown, I almost felt embarrassed if I wasn't constantly the object of someone's desire.
But now? Gone are the days of doom-scrolling through dating apps until my finger hurts from swiping, and piling pressure on every date to provide a 'fairytale ending'.
There's something empowering about going through a life-altering pandemic. 'Boy drama' is instantly put into perspective, you realise the people you value and before long you completely forget about that last guy who caused you to delete your Hinge.
I'm not saying I'm never going to make dating mistakes again, or fall for the 'wrong' type of guy, but after spending a year alone, what I know for sure is that I'm absolutely fine without Mr Right - and that's a really freeing thought.
Taking time for yourself is a luxury you don't usually have during your mid-twenties, and to many women, it's been invaluable.
Featured Image Credit: Jo Threlfall/ Asha Amour/Joanna Freedman
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