Doing Intimacy in Pandemic Times: Findings of a Large-Scale Survey Among Singles in Japan

Nora Kottmann, Laura Dales

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Singles-here understood as unmarried or never married individuals-are a growing subset of the Japanese population that has not received discrete attention in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This article addresses the ways in which the pandemic and its associated interventions-calls for social distancing, self-restraint, or the avoidance of the '3Cs'-affect singles' (non)familial personal relationships and practices of intimacy (platonic and romantic), as well as perceptions of singlehood and 'solo activities' (sorokatsu). Based on exploratory analyses of data from an original cross-sectional online survey conducted in early 2021 (n = 4.000; unmarried residents of Japan aged 25-49 years), we show that while practices of intimacy are changing throughout the pandemic, the changes are less dramatic than we anticipated. In addition, changes are highly gendered and seem to support contemporary media and public discourse on how individuals are managing COVID-life and its concomitant uncertainties. We see two diachronic developments: an increase in social isolation and distress on the one hand, and an increase in acceptance of being single and doing 'solo activities' on the other. Our findings contribute to an understanding of the ways that singlehood, marital status, and extra-familial relationships are shaped, and shape the experiences of this pandemic.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3-26
    Number of pages23
    JournalSocial Science Japan Journal
    Issue number1
    Early online date28 Oct 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


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