From breakups to expedited proposals and wedding ceremonies, the pandemic seemed to affect some relationship timelines and milestones.
As a result, many single Canadians report that seeing others get engaged, married or move in together has taken a toll on their mental health, according to nationwide survey findings.
Data from Angus Reid commissioned by Shift Collab, a Canadian online mental health practice, found in a survey of 1,504 Canadians that 59 per cent say their mental health was affected by being single or having been in the past.
For 60 per cent of Canadians between the ages 18 and 34, they admit feeling isolated and as though everyone is in a relationship but them.
More than 125 therapists at Shift Collab identified an uptick in clients who were struggling with feelings of missing life milestones and decided to conduct a nationwide survey to build on these findings, according to Megan Rafuse, CEO and co-founder of Shift Collab.
“We saw many relationships intensify online during this time [the pandemic] due to the amount of time people were spending together and, therefore, people have been broadcasting milestone announcements more frequently on social media,” Rafuse told CTVNews.ca in an email.
The data also revealed that 33 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 have experienced shifting expectations of when to start a family due to the pandemic. As a result, 31 per cent reported feeling isolated.
“The pandemic specifically contributed to people feeling more anxious around meeting life milestones like meeting a partner and getting married, primarily due to the challenges related to dating, meeting new people, and even events like having to cancel a wedding or delay plans of moving in together due to the pandemic lockdown rules,” Rafuse said.
As a result, this drove feelings of uncertainty and fear for many people, which can lead to increased anxiety, worry and stress, Rafuse added.
Social media feeds, which are often home to wedding and engagement posts, also play a role in the comparison game. In fact, 27 per cent of single Canadians say that seeing other people celebrate their marriage on social media has contributed to disappointment regarding their own relationship status.
To navigate the issue, the survey found that over a third of Canadians have considered therapy due to their relationships status.
“No Canadian should ever feel alone in their feelings and counselling can help them safely identify and take control of feelings of sadness, anxiety and depression,” Rafuse said, who has a few tips for those experiencing negative feelings after seeing others hit milestones.
“First, it’s critical to acknowledge the feelings that surface. Ask yourself, what is it that you’re really feeling? Is it disappointment, regret or perhaps even a twinge of envy? Recognize these feelings, name them and ask for support,” she said.
She said to put your feelings in perspective and recognize that many other people are feeling the same way across the country. “Our lives are deeply imperfect – and so are the Instagram-worthy moments of others.”
Finally, Rafuse encourages people to focus on the things they do have control over.
“Your life’s milestones don’t have to be defined by engagements, weddings, having kids or purchasing a home. What milestones are unique to you? Lean into those and create your own path.”