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DATE FRIGHT Forget FOMO - I've got major FOMU as lockdown finally ends

After 16 months I actually now dread the bad old days

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Crowds gather in London after their lockdown ended recently

Crowds gather in London after their lockdown ended recently

Crowds gather in London after their lockdown ended recently

First there was FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.

Now it's all about FOMU: Fear of Meeting Up.

Lockdown is finally easing and is it OK to say out loud that I'm actually dreading it?

After 15 hug-free months cooped up at home, we're all meant to be climbing the walls, and booking staycations, shopping excursions and nights out left, right and centre.

And yet I secretly find myself yearning for Lockdown 4.

After the personal and professional devastation wreaked by the virus, until now, it's not something I would have dared to admit to family or friends who struggled far more with the tumult of 2020.

But after a topsy-turvy few years of bereavement, break-ups and burnout, and now that we're hopefully out the other side, I don't mind admitting that I enjoyed hopping off the hamster wheel for a while.

Studies show that I'm not the only one with the taboo view of lockdown.

In fact, according to the American Psychological Association recently, 49pc of adults are feeling a bit queasy about going back to face-to-face interactions when the pandemic ends.

And it has nothing to do with the fear of Covid, as those who had been vaccinated were almost as likely to feel the same way about going back out into the world as those who had not yet been jabbed.

Dating site Badoo coined the clever twist on Millennial scourge FOMO to explain the existential angst being experienced by its members at the prospect of going on real life dates after months of remote flirting.

Whether due to concerns over their health or having let themselves go during lockdown, the app found that 77pc of users are bricking it over meeting potential matches in the flesh.

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It's not just the return of bad dates that's got me sinking into my Slanket though.

It's all of it: the bumper-to-bumper traffic, the asinine small talk, the save the dates, the pressure of once more having to be everywhere at the same time - and remember to post it on social media.

These are, needless to say, entirely WGP (White Girl Problems), and even if I'm not exactly first in line, it's great to see shops, hairdressers and museums all back open for business, with pubs, restaurants and gyms right around the corner.

Just remember we were dangled the carrot of a 'new normal' when all this ended, one with clearer priorities and less stress.

If that doesn't pan out, then I guess there's always JOMO - the Joy of Missing Out.

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