Over 2.1 million paid out in online romance scams.
I shuddered as I read the headline. It speaks to the depth of our inner craving for love and belonging.
In my country we have had over a year of restrictions and lockdown to some form that has led to an increase in persons turning to online dating with the absence of the opportunity to engage in physical social interaction.
Though the monetary cost has been detailed it still pales with the social and emotional cost of such.
I remember a lady who lives in my community announcing several years ago that she was getting married and would be leaving to reside with her intended spouse in another region. She wasn’t seen for several years after her departure and then suddenly reappeared, but as a recluse. After making a few attempts to communicate with her, she admitted to me that the hopeful intended partner had took all her money and then fled leaving her to find her way back to her homeland on the goodwill of strangers. Since then she has gone into a depression that seems to be sinking her deeper and deeper into an abyss of social isolation.
. . .
As the pandemic raged and the deaths surged, focus has been on this, and indeed it should be a focal point.
However, with the increase in the use of technology also comes a further increase in isolation. Face to face interaction has been primarily replaced with digital interaction and though it is an opportunity to maintain contact with family and friends across the globe. It has resulted in more loneliness and more stress.
As different regions of the world continue to navigate through the pandemic, little focus is on the social cost of the pandemic and how it has enhanced loneliness along with a sense of isolation.
Living alone may at times pose unique challenges, depending on your economic and social circumstances, it is even more so as we face an uncertain future and the unprecedented challenges the pandemic has brought.
Understanding the unspoken cry of the lonely is important for us to navigate and ensure that we don’t come out from this pandemic with an even greater one of mental illness based on the extended period of isolation.
In my country, I have seen the profound impact of isolation on single parents, elderly and persons with other ailments. So today I want to encourage persons who may be overwhelmed from the loneliness of the pandemic to reach out by:
Telling someone how you feel — it may not change anything but verbalizing it is the first stage in acknowledging how you truly feel.
Find an interest/hobby that you enjoy to keep your time occupied.
Don’t ruminate on the loneliness it will only make it worse. Instead, think of someone else who may live alone, or who may be having a difficult time and reach out and encourage. When we remove focus from ourselves, there is less opportunity to feel lonely.
Find online support groups where persons living alone can support and encourage others. It may be interesting to note that others may feel the same way you do on occassion though not often verbalized. It may not eliminate the loneliness, but it helps normalize the sense that others face similar struggles as you do.
Visit family and friends if safe to do so from time to time to maintain that social interaction.
Connect with your spiritual self. It is often quite helpful to spend time in meditation and spiritual connection.
Exercise and go outside as often as you can. We often are told of the benefits of exercise and they do contribute to raising our feel good hormones of dopamine and cortisol to name a few.
While we are all different individuals, there may be something that can work for you, so consider and do what you can to keep you connected with others. After all we are social beings and thrive on interaction with others.
The absence of it will leave a void and it is necessary to find a way to manage through this to mentally thrive.
. . .
Online dating has become a way to connect with others and so if choosing to pursue dating online it would be wise to consider the following –
Get to know the person over a long period of time. There is no ideal period of time to determine this, but persons who are attempting to do online scamming may not wish to play the long game and so they may eventually get frustrated and move on.
Don’t share personal information. It’s easy in wanting to connect to share information openly and unsuspectingly. Doing this can prove dangerous very early and should guard in disclosing too much too early.
Listen carefully to what they are saying and consider disconnects in how a story may change from day to day. It may be missed when we are caught up in the worldwind excitement of new found romance, yet at times someone without genuine intentions can forget and change a story quite often.
Be wary if they ask for financial support very early in the interaction. While a relationship should be a shared support system, if possible, being approached for financial support very early is a tell tale sign of the persons intended motives.
You are never able to talk with them on the phone or a video call. If every attempt to have a conversation is met with excuses or avoided it may be a sign that they may not be who they claim to be.
They appear extremely concerned to the point they want to know your movement every moment of the day. I remember once dating someone who was interested in my every move. I felt it admirable at first and appreciated the attention, yet as time went along it seemed a bit irksome to maintain, further the extent of their anger with not being kept informed of my every move, led me to cease any further communication with the person.
They know that you live alone. This may seem like an obvious one, but sometimes in conversation, without even being aware that we have said it we disclose it indirectly by stating information.
. . .
Online dating can be effective in connecting with others during the pandemic. It’s easy to get connected to others and we all crave and desire that emotional connection. Believe me I know, but exercising discernment and wisdom can avoid us the financial and emotional cost in the end.
So keep connected and stay wise as we journey through the pandemic as single persons.
This post was previously published on Change Becomes You.
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