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Social Distancing While Single: Stories and Analyses

I have devoted the last several decades of my life to studying and writing about single people, but when the coronavirus lockdown first started, I didn’t know what to expect.

This is an ongoing story, but so far it looks like plenty of single people are defying the stereotypical predictions that they will be sadder and lonelier than everyone else. Sure, there are single people who do fit that gloomy description, but they seem to be the singles who wish they were coupled, and the single people who are quarantined with other people when they wish they were alone.

I put together this collection of my favorite stories and analyses for Medium. I’ve also included my own writings, many of which were first published here at Psych Central. I’ll probably keep adding to the collection at Medium, but I also wanted to share it here with Single at Heart readers.

Single People Living Alone: How Are We Doing, Really?

Singles under Quarantine: Are They Really Disadvantaged?

Has the conventional wisdom about the supposed deficiencies of single people resulted in misleading media stories about how singles are faring during the pandemic – and in life?


By Jessica Bennett, Daniel Jones and Anya Strzemien

A collection of 19 brief stories of living alone during the pandemic, selected from more than 2,000 submissions. They are movingly written and beautifully illustrated. The essays cover a whole range of experiences. I appreciated that the very first story was from someone who said, “I’ve never been happier.” I also loved the charming, “I fell in love with a stray puppy,” by Dr. Ketaki Chowkhani, a young scholar of single life from Manipal, Karnataka, India.

Who’s Safe? Living Alone May Be Better Than Youth or Wealth

Living with other people may increase your risk for COVID-19 more than being old or poor. More infections may come from exposure to family than any other known source.

Singles say they’re better prepared to self-quarantine, but many fear getting shortchanged in medical treatment

By Joan DelFattore

An inspiring article filled with stories from people who have chosen to be single, many of whom are thriving under self-quarantine. Also voices concerns about whether single people will be accorded appropriate treatment, should they need it.

We Were Spending Way More Time Alone, Even Before the Pandemic

With social life dramatically curtailed by the pandemic, solitude is filling some of the spaces that were once populated by other people. But the trend toward spending more time alone has been ongoing for decades, and it has not been limited to people who live alone.

What We Need Now: 3 Types of Cocooning

To the people now spending more time home alone than they ever wanted: Let those who love their solitude show you how to curate your time and your place and transform your experience.

Singles and Couples Are More Divided Than Ever

By Ginny Hogan

From the author: “The idea that I need the company or validation of a man so badly that I’d want a relationship like hers—one in which I’d be swallowing constant conflict—is genuinely offensive. I am also taken aback by coupled people I know when they say they feel sorry for singles for not having someone to talk to. I’ve been single most of my life and never once felt like I had no one to talk to.”

Single Life and the Coronavirus

By Ray A. Smith

Covers a range of experiences of people living alone during the coronavirus. The stories from the people doing fine are mostly at the end. For example: ““I sometimes feel bad that other people feel bad for me because I live alone and choose not to date, and I’m like, ‘It’s OK. I’m happy this way,’” said Melissa Jensen, 37, of Elmhurst, Ill.”

Single People Quarantined with Other People

The Fraught Dynamics of Single People in Lockdown with Couples

The 2-against-1 dynamic and the occasional presumptuousness of couples in lockdown with single people.

Clipped Wings and Heightened Risks: Singles Quarantined with Other People

What single people have to lose when they are quarantined with other people, regardless of whether those people are couples.

The Risks of Being Single in a Pandemic

What is the life of a single person worth?

In the 9/11 victims’ compensation fund, in organ transplant decisions, and now in the COVID-19 pandemic, decisions are made about the relative values of different people’s lives.

Single with COVID-19: Will You Get the Treatment You Need?

By Joan DelFattore

Will marital status be a factor in prioritizing coronavirus treatment if resources become scarce? Research on singlism suggests that it could.

Who Is Getting Ignored?

Pandemic Talk: Everyone Is Worried about Couples and Families

Concerts to help “families in need,” food distribution centers “for families,” and so much more. Too many outreach efforts and expressions of concern ignore single people. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 100 million of them. They don’t have a partner’s income as backup if they lose their livelihood.

I never felt like a “single’ parent. Then the coronavirus hit.

By Dani McClain

Families, including single-parent families, come in many varieties. Public policies and recommendations do not always recognize that. I hope this will be one of many more articles to come that acknowledge all the different ways we live and love, and the implications for life under social distancing.

My Personal Stories

I’m Fine Now, But What about 2 Weeks from Now?

When the stay-at-home orders were first issued in March, I was worried. I had always loved my alone time, but would this new experience, with no certain end date, be too much, even for me? And what about all the other people who are “single at heart” and who have been telling me how much they cherish the time they have to themselves?

Still Home Alone, No Visitors, after 2 More Weeks Have Passed

Two weeks into the pandemic, and my concerns about being too cut-off, even for a solitude lover like me, are as yet unwarranted. I still have not felt lonely. I do feel sad sometimes, but that’s not about being single; it is grief over the relentless global toll of illness and death and loss.

Small, Touching Pandemic Pleasures

Now that more than two months have passed, small pleasures and kind gestures seem especially touching and meaningful.

Here’s More

For more writings about solitude, not specific to the pandemic, click here.

For more writings on just about every aspect of single life (except dating), organized by topic, click here.

For resources for single people who are not trying to escape single life (books, blogs, talks, discussion groups, podcasts, etc.), click here.

Social Distancing While Single: Stories and Analyses

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single." Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2020). Social Distancing While Single: Stories and Analyses. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 May 2020
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