It’s December, people already put up their trees last month and Christmas-mania began even earlier this year.
In any normal year, the holidays are often hard enough to navigate as a plus-none. But it’s 2020 and we all know that this isn’t any old normal year.
For the singles amongst us, it’s perhaps never felt so lonely.
Adjusting to lockdown life has caused anxiety, sleep issues, health problems and an unexpected FOMO.
Even with cuffing season having officially started in October – a time for us singles to find a short-term winter lover and bed down – this year, the hopes for love aren’t looking great.
And, as we begin to deck our halls, I understand more than ever why we really do need an ‘interest’ of some sort this year.
A person, a penis, a remedy, a stress ball for our mental health!
It doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic, though that would be an added bonus, but someone who we can lean on during our hour of need. And boy do we need it.
Step forward the festive companion.
A date for the holidays
Recently, Netflix released a movie called Holidate, which saw Emma Roberts (niece of acting royalty, Julia), navigate the holidays with a stand-in boyfriend so she wouldn’t feel lonely.
Well lucky her!
The three out of five-star rom-com was your classic Sunday afternoon movie – an easy, lazy day watch. It was cheesy, predictable, addictive and slightly unrealistic.
But the notion of a date for the holidays is an idea that I can get on board with – especially in 2020.
How many times have you groaned at a solo Valentine’s Day, craved a bank holiday weekend away with a hot piece of arse, or dreaded the Christmas parties as a loner?
I’m sure I speak for a lot of singletons when I say that I have to mentally prepare answers for the stream of questions that come from social occasions.
‘I’m happy as I am, thank you!’ and, ‘I don’t need a boyfriend, I have my hands!’ Or, ‘Work is thriving!’
Sometimes I wonder if people who hire an escort actually have the right idea. No strings attached, a companion to whatever event you are attending where you may bump into your ex, and no hearts broken. Bliss!
And, whilst this year hasn’t been filled with gatherings, or been the easiest time to date, have sex or find the one, the desperate need to find that distraction has never been greater.
For many of us, the only reason that bed is causing you a bad back is because you are working from it, not fornicating on it. Gone are the days that single people did something other than emails between the sheets.
FaceTime fatigue is real. 2020 has been a drought.
This year, even Santa’s lap is starting to look appealing for some light relief. If only we could sit on it.
Single and struggling with lockdown
But sex aside, as we continue another lockdown, a Holidate seems like the perfect remedy for those holiday blues – parties or no parties.
And, our mental health is crying out for it.
Tragically we’ve seen record numbers of suicide. Many of us are more worried about our mental health. Companionship and communication could be the most important gift you could give this year.
According to research by the charity, Opening Doors London, 40% of LGBT+ people feel that COVID has made them lonelier.
Perhaps Emma Roberts had the right idea.
As my single and super strong mother once said: ‘I don’t miss much, but I miss a man to laugh with during the times that everyone else has someone.’
And that’s the truth.
This year has been hard on us all, but for the singles out there, it’s been extra tough and it’s about to get harder.
I have single friends who live alone. They are strong, independent and yet still struggle through lockdowns.
There are guys I know who masturbated their way through the first lockdown, trying to resist breaking the rules and opening Grindr up for companionship.
Then there are those thankful that we are in a lockdown, secretly hoping that those parties can’t go ahead because they don’t have a Holidate of their own.
Countless numbers of people that feel totally alone.
Because when you are plunged into a year of solitude and you are already single anyway, it’s hard for even the content ones to remain positive.
Stay safe but don’t stay lonely
So, I urge everyone to find that ‘interest,’ that person, that penis, that remedy.
A new friend or a stranger you swiped for on an app, an old flame that fizzled in the bedroom but sizzled on WhatsApp, or a friend that is always there for you.
There are also wonderful support groups like Fundamental who do zoom mixers, drag queens creating online dating games like Cun Tucky, and there are streams of online exercise classes to help keep you active.
Of course, I advise you to mask-up and take the proper COVID precautions – including following the local and national guidance wherever you live. We all need to ensure our safety and the safety of those around us through this winter.
But it’s 2020 and plus-no-one has never felt so lonely.
This year is an adjustment, a strain, but you do not have to go through it alone.
This season remember your single friends and stay positive.
A Holidate is for Christmas, not for life. So go forth and get a safe, no-strings-attached distraction. Your health is counting on it.
Daniel Harding is a journalist, writer, presenter and director. You can follow him on Instagram here.