For some singles, the holidays can feel like a constant reminder of their relationship status.
It’s that time of year again. Over the next couple weeks, you’ll be invited to parties or forced to socialize with people you work with. A lot of single folks feel trepidation about these gatherings. Their greatest concern? Having to field questions about their love lives.
Some of these inquiries come from well-meaning family members. Others come from socially inept nosey-bodies. Regardless of the source, just the thought of having to respond to these queries leaves some singles wanting to take off for Cancun for two weeks or feign influenza and stay home.
Unfortunately, the idea of “single-shaming” has become a thing lately, so let’s kick-off this list of tips for successfully getting through the holidays without slapping anybody:
Be honest with yourself: Are you as comfortable being single as you think? It’s perfectly OK to fake it ‘til you make it, as they say. But be sure to acknowledge how you truly feel about not being in a relationship. Doing so will help alleviate the chances of you feeling attacked or judged by common questions that arise at your typical holiday get-together. It’s OK to feel lonely or even sad. Allow yourself to feel however you want to feel.
Don’t take it personally: Sometimes people don’t know what to say when making conversation. A lot of people see dating as a safe topic. They have no idea what a hot button that can be for some singles. Other people, like maybe your parents or grandparents, just want you to be happy. They want to know you have someone to look after you. As old-fashioned and annoying as that might sound, remember that it’s probably coming from a good place.
Take a step back from the Internet: Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve there are a slew of articles declaring the holidays as some kind of war on single people. Don’t take everything at face value. Yes, you might encounter that one person at a dinner party who asks if you’re dating anybody, but you won’t be put in a room and drilled with questions for hours on end. I happen to think that a big reason why the holidays have become so stressful for many single people is that we (and the Internet) have made this into a bigger thing than it actually is.
Turn the question back on them: If you watch celebrity interviews, you can see how masterful some of them are at giving a brief answer and then re-directing the question back to the interviewer. Here’s an example:
Q: Are you dating anyone?
A: I’ve had a couple of dates with someone, but I don’t want to jinx it. You know how that is, right?
Here’s another example:
Q: “So, let’s catch up. Are you seeing anybody?”
A: “Yes/No. What about you?”
Many people ask these questions as an excuse to talk about themselves. So give them one.
Now that we’ve covered how to navigate the potentially awkward conversations you might have, let’s touch on how to get through the holidays solo. For some people, being single this time of year is a blessing. They don’t have to suffer through awkward office Christmas parties standing by their partner’s side. Nor are they forced under the microscope while attending dinner at their significant other’s parents’ house. That’s real stress.
But for others, the loneliness they sometimes feel gets exacerbated. They’re assaulted with commercials depicting couples exchanging gifts. They can’t log onto Facebook or Twitter without seeing update after update from coupled-up folks chatting about engagements, dates, and travel plans. It’s almost impossible to totally avoid that slight twinge of jealousy or sadness when it seems like you’re constantly being reminded that you’re single.
I’ll tell you a little secret that I’ve learned throughout my years of writing about dating: December is a fantastic time to be dating online. There are tons of people looking for someone to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve. That kind of extra motivation makes people a little more motivated and less flakey.
Next time you’re at home liking yet another photo of your friend’s engagement ring, close that window and open a new one. Go to an online dating site, like OK Cupid, and create a profile. At the very least, dating online will allow you to take some control and provide you with the chance to connect with other people. As much as you may want to self-isolate, don’t allow yourself to do so for too long.
While you’ve got that browser open, do a search for networking groups in your area. Meetup.com is a great place to start. As someone who organizes events for singles, I can tell you that December is our busiest time of year. Single people are more fired up than ever to get out there and mingle.
It’s so tempting to shut down, especially during the holiday season. But it’s important to maintain perspective. You are not the only single person on the planet at that given moment. I know it feels like that’s the case, but it’s not. Don’t let your mind play tricks on you.
It’s just a few weeks. You’ll get through it.
Christan is an NYC based writer and columnist. Her work and advice has been featured in media outlets such as Match.com, YourTango, MSN’s GLO Network and The New York Post. You can find more of her work at And That’s Why You’re Single. As a 40-something dating in Manhattan she can teach you that sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. Follow her on Twitter at @ATWYSingle