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Support bubble: friends, family or fling? Single women share their choices

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Hollie Richardson
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Support bubble for single people in lockdown.

The easing of lockdown rules means that single people can now properly visit another household, but what is the reality of this?

It’s been a tough time for single women living alone in lockdown. Most of us haven’t touched another human for nearly 80 days. Endless video calls to try stay connected with people has led to total Zoom fatigue. And it’s really no fun eating, watching Netflix or dealing with the fear of a pandemic with nobody around. 

Yes, coronavirus has been extremely hard for everybody – but this article is specifically dedicated to all those who have had to deal with the horny aftermath of Normal People alone.

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Yesterday (10 June) marked another confusing lockdown easing update. Boris Johnson’s next step is to introduce “support bubbles” to allow people to reunite with their loved ones. The new measures, which will come into place this Saturday, allow single adults in England to spend the night at another house. This means that the horrifying “sex ban” is no more. Hurrah!

To be eligible for this change in the rules, one half of a couple that wants to create the bubble must live alone. If the other half of the couple lives with a flatmate, for example, then that flatmate cannot form their own bubble with another person (the new rules do also not apply to people who have been shielding). This means that not everybody benefits: my colleague, who is staying with her family, cannot stay overnight with her boyfriend who lives with his housemates.

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However, it’s a relief to see singletons finally get a look-in. But with great new powers comes great responsibility and one big question: “who should I bubble up with?”  Many people are having to choose between their family, friends and old or new romantic partners – and it is no easy task. 

Stylist asked five women for their reactions on the support bubble.

“I’m going to join my friend’s family instead of my own”

Liz hasn’t touched a single other human while living alone in London during lockdown: “I have chosen the nearby family home of my best friend, her husband and their toddler as my bubble. I’m getting three hugs for the price of one! My best friend will jump on me and give me a long tight squeeze, her husband will give me a caring and protective ‘we made it to this stage’ hug and I’ll receive a playful but equally impactful hug from their son. Each hug will be meaningful, emotional and release some well needed endorphins.

“I’m doing this instead of staying with my mum because she lives in the Lake District. We would usually only see each other three or four times a year anway, so it hasn’t been too much of a shift for our relationship. We speak on the phone (she’s now learnt how to Facetime) once a week and I know she is healthy, well and cared for.”

Being single during quarantine.
The support bubble will help single people in quarantine.

“I need post-breakup moral support from my best pal”

Lana, who split up with her fiance just before lockdown, is also going to stay with her mate: “I’ve been feeling quite lonely living on my own, especially after being used to spending every waking minute with someone when I was in the relationship.

“But I am strictly off dating for a while. When I heard the news about the support bubble, I knew immediately that it would have to be my best friend Amy so I can at least feel a little more ‘normal’ and have that moral support.”

“I feel guilty for choosing a fling over my mum and mates”

Leanne has missed her family more than anything during lockdown, but that doesn’t mean she’s picking them for her bubble: “My mum, who lives on her own in another city, excitedly messaged me after the announcement to say one of us could perhaps visit the other. I felt awful because the first person I actually thought of was the guy I’ve been virtually and social-distance dating. It’s pretty confusing because I’ve been wanting to hug my mum all this time, but I’m at the point where I just want a bit of a romantic thrill, and some physical contact (wink, wink): is that so bad?!”

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“What about single people who can’t afford to live alone?”

Chloe is single but lives with housemates, which means she cannot join a support bubble or visit her parents who live far away: “Lockdown has been designed to protect those in traditional relationships or staying with their families who live in big homes with gardens. 

“I live with other people because I have no other choice financially, and my co-habiting situation doesn’t mean that I haven’t felt periods of loneliness or, physical frustration. Let’s be honest, being able to spend my evenings watching TV with the people I live with or having a socially distanced picnic with my friends who live close by does not make up for three months without any form of sexual contact. 

“And while those who have been in long or socially distanced relationships during lockdown have received condolences and now legal support for being without their partner, I have definitely not received the same sympathy, as a single woman, for going without. 

“I get it – the pandemic is more important than my sex life. But there’s ways of supporting those living outside of the ‘ideal’ (i.e. those who have to share their homes or those who aren’t in exclusive relationships) – just look at the ‘seksbuddies’ scheme in the Netherlands.

Single in quaratine
Has lockdown been fair on single people living in house shares?

“The guy I’ve been talking to on a dating app for three months is staying at mine”

Zizi lives in London, and she’s been talking to a match on Badoo who lives in Somerset since just before going into lockdown in March: “We quickly developed a connection, and began talking more and more, so it was frustrating that we couldn’t meet up in real life – just my luck really, I finally meet someone, and the country goes into lockdown. 

“It took me a while to pluck up the courage to do so, but we started video calling – this was so much more relaxing than I thought it would be, and a really nice way to feel closer to him. It made me realise there was definitely something real between us. We knew that the lockdown rules were relaxing soon, so we made plans to see each other as soon as we could, and in the meantime continued video calling, and talking every day. 

“When the government announced last night that single people living alone could form a ‘bubble’ with another household, my heart started pounding! I’m a little nervous, but so excited – three months down the line and he is coming to London on Saturday for our first real date. He’s going to stay the night at my flat.”

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do, as stated on the official GOV.UK website.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…