October 17, 2021

New Cayman Islands singles association seeks to counter social isolation

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DSC_0438A new singles association, Singles-in-Christ (SIC), has been formed to provide support and opportunities for interaction in a population sector that is experiencing an increasing sense of social isolation. The new association is open to single persons of any age or religious affiliation.

SIC was formed at the conclusion of a singles retreat held over the July 4 holiday weekend at the Wyndham Resort. The event was an outcome of Kings Seventh-day Adventist Church’s yearly strategic plan, and was initiated under the direction of that church’s Singles Ministries Leader, Ms. Angela Campbell. The retreat was subsequently endorsed and sponsored by the Family Ministries Department of the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, led by Director Dr. Ivor Harry.

Outlining the new association’s goals, Ms. Campbell, the newly elected president of SIC, said: “Our mission is to provide a social outlet for single Christians to interact personally, as they move away from a focus on social media interaction.”

Ms Campbell added that the organization hoped to integrate their initiative with those of other similar associations in Cayman so as to expand and afford greater opportunities for interaction and communication with other single Christians. “Our aim is also to help Christian singles maintain an enriched spiritual life in their walk with God,” she said.

The association had its first social event on Saturday night (July 9). All future events and information will be published on the soon to be announced SIC’s webpage, which will be linked to www.CaymanAdventist.org.

Speaking to some fundamental needs to which an organization like SIC is responding, Pastor Shian O’Connor, President of the Cayman Islands Conference and presenter at the workshops at the three-day retreat, said: “A big concern for many singles in Cayman is profound loneliness.”

O’Connor, currently pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology, quoted US-based research that shows that “loneliness is a growing public health problem.” Referencing study after study in the workshops he led during the retreat, he said that loneliness has increased the risk of early death by significant percentages, some as high as 26%. Quoting a study by Brigham Young University, he said that “social isolation is more deadly than obesity.”

And what complicates rather than mitigates isolation is, surprisingly, social media. Studies have shown that satisfying personal connections are weakened rather than facilitated by social media, O’Connor said, referencing one study that shows that unhappiness seems to occur in direct proportion to the number of “friends” in social media.

O’Connor confirmed that this sense of isolation is increasingly being felt by many single persons in the local population. “Some of this is reinforced by the revolving nature of large segments of the Cayman population; some is due to an erosion of the social fabric that in the past had served to bring people of common interests together.”

And that goal of building bridges is well served by Singles-in-Christ, he said, as it offers an alternative to those who may want to order their social lives away from some of the prevailing options, such as night clubs and other similar entertainment.

The weekend retreat gave its new members a taste of what they can expect of the new organization — there were early morning walks, relaxation activities and games, talks on personal development and on other topics such as self-esteem and etiquette, along with open floor discussions, and even a baking illustration for those interested.

As the main presenter at the workshops staged throughout the weekend, O’Connor focused on topics such as coping with and overcoming loneliness, and on dating protocols. For the women, he outlined what attracts men and what leads to loss of interest; for men, he outlined what women are looking for.

One of the topics that drew much discussion was that about the five stages of dating, in which O’Connor outlined how to manage each stage of a relationship. He stressed the importance of not rushing stages, but being careful to observe the particular value and contribution of each phase of courtship to the careful selection of a suitable life-time mate.

One point that drew much discussion was that of giving of gifts by women: Many women assume that giving to men, whether gifts or support of any kind, would make men more interested in them, O’Connor said, but it often had the opposite effect. “When women are too eager to please, the man does not get the chance or the distance he needs to pursue her, he explained; he emphasized that accepting a date did not mean that a man was owed anything in return.

The workshop ended with a session on abuse — how to recognize signs that foreshadow this behaviour so as to avoid selecting someone who might become abusive in the future. He enumerated and defined the various types of abusive behaviour that many may not recognize.

Persons interested in contacting Singles-in-Cayman should email [email protected].

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