Single people say they face unique concerns during the pandemic that deserve attention
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A year into the pandemic we’ve heard a lot about the stress so many families are under as parents and kids all try to work, learn, and play from home. But more than a quarter of U.S. households today are one-person homes — that number has gone up a lot in the last 50 years. And plenty of those people are working.
Ginny Giles is one of them. Before the pandemic Giles, a nonprofit consultant, traveled for work all the time. She’d meet with clients or attend a conference.
“Life was just very, very full and rewarding and just wonderful,” she said. “I love my life.”
Giles said she is happily single. She lives in Pittsburgh, but many of her friends are scattered around the country. She’s been working at home alone all year, hardly seeing anyone. Sometimes, she said, she worries about who’d look after her if she got COVID.
“I increased my long-term and short-term disability coverage when the pandemic started so that if I was out of work I’d have that,” she said. “But I’m a small business owner — if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.”
And she doesn’t have a partner’s income to fall back on.
Bella DePaulo is an author who studies single life. She said companies and policymakers address so much pandemic messaging to families, and that rankles.
“When we single people hear all the concern about families and working families it kind of says to us, ‘We don’t care about you, we may not even realize you exist,'” she said.
When in fact, she added, many singles are working long hours and dealing with their own COVID stress.
Anthony Meek is a licensed social worker who works as a mental health clinician with the Johns Hopkins Employee Assistance Program. He said the single people he’s counseled often feel guilty talking about their mental health. He said he tells them that “that foundation is removing that guilt and just letting yourself feel — and deserve to feel — bad, in a pandemic.”
Of course not everyone does feel bad. Karina Zappa, of Santa Rosa, California, said working at home alone has been energizing. She is a self-described introvert in her 30s. She used to work in an office five days a week.
“I have to say I was kind of excited when I got sent home, and I am kind of dreading going back,” she said.
She said she likes her job — and her colleagues — but meeting up on screen has been enough.
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