If you are feeling blue about being single during the holidays, know that you are not the only person feeling this way. A survey conducted by OnePoll for the dating app Plenty of Fish showed 49% of singles say they would feel more excited about the holidays if they had a significant other. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could jet off somewhere for two weeks in December for a romantic encounter with a handsome stranger as Cameron Diaz did in The Holiday? Unfortunately, that’s not realistic for most of us.
How to Enjoy Being Single During the Holidays
I am fortunate to have a great group of female friends I’ve known for years. At one time we all were married, but over the years, a few of the women divorced. These particular women have a great attitude about being single during the holidays. Perhaps they have their moments, but overall, they don’t seem to buy into the pervasive attitude that life is better if you’re part of a couple.
Why does our society place so much pressure on relationships during the holidays? Your relationship status does not diminish your value or worth as a person in the least. While some women dread facing the holidays alone, my friends seem to celebrate the good things about being single. Here are some things you can do to make your holidays merrier and brighter my single friends shared with me. It’s time we changed the conversation and updated our perspectives.
Anticipate the Annoying Questions from Well-Meaning Family Members
The OnePoll survey also found that four in 10 people find the holiday season shines a spotlight on their singlehood. And caring family members ask uncomfortable questions out of curiosity to which you may not know how to respond. So be prepared. Here are a few examples of questions they may ask and some interesting comebacks, some serious, some humorous.
Have you tried those dating apps?
“Yes, but they are not my thing.”
“I’m not, but they sound delicious.”
“Are you?” (This is especially humorous if talking with a married person)
Don’t you want to get remarried?
” I’m not sure I want that again.”
” I’m enjoying time on my own right now.”
“Right now, I’m content with where I am, and my main focus is on personal growth.”
Aren’t you lonely?
“Not really, are you?”
“Yes, will you be my friend?”
“Being alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely. I felt more alone when I was married.”
Try to respond to questions with patience and grace, even if they may seem insensitive. Your friends and family are probably not aware of the impact their questions have, so try to give them the benefit of the doubt. My friends tell me that even when they provide an answer that should shut the conversation down, sometimes the well-meaning individual still doesn’t get the hint. In that case, they recommend changing the conversation or excusing yourself to refresh your drink.
It’s important to set boundaries (and not just during the holidays)! Unfortunately, sometimes this is easier said than done. Keep in mind that you don’t have to share with others more than you’re comfortable. It’s absolutely O.K. to let people know you prefer not to discuss certain topics, even if they are family or close friends. Establishing boundaries is a way to respect your own needs, values, and limits. And if you communicate your need for privacy with kindness and without judgment, hopefully, your loved ones will respect your wishes. If they don’t, and continue to ask personal questions, albeit with good intentions, you may need to reinforce your boundaries more firmly. Asking someone about their divorce or why they are still single is very personal; think about it – you wouldn’t ask a married friend why they are still married, would you? Of course not. It goes both ways.
Invite a Friend
If you feel hesitant and uncomfortable about attending a particular event by yourself for whatever reason, think about bringing a friend along. Being single at a holiday function is easier if you have someone with you to serve as sort of a buffer. For example, having a friend by your side can deflect personal questions you don’t feel like answering. My single friends say bringing a friend can provide emotional support and comfort, especially if it’s a gathering where they won’t know many people. It makes socializing with new people less daunting.
Celebrate with Other Singles
Here’s another excellent piece of advice from my single friends; celebrate with other singles. If it’s hard to be around family or only married people at a holiday party, perhaps it’s time to change things up. Other singles with similar experiences may better understand the unique challenges and emotions that can arise during the holiday season. They don’t have the same societal expectations of you and likely won’t ask personal questions they don’t like to be asked themselves. Creating new holiday traditions can provide a refreshing and positive way to mark the holiday season and combat loneliness at this time of year. Remember that “single” doesn’t necessarily mean “alone”.
Stay Away from Social Media
Start off December by staying off of social media, unless you intentionally want to feel badly about your life. These platforms present curated versions of people’s lives, showcasing family celebrations, meals, and gifts. It’s hard not to let these perfect seeming images trigger feelings of inadequacy or the fear of missing out. Are these families truly happy and enjoying their time together? Who knows? But one thing for sure is that people post only what they want others to see. There is always more to the story. Besides, staying away from social media allows us to remain present and more fully enjoy real-life moments.
Positive Things About Being Single
It’s important to recognize and appreciate the benefits of singlehood at age 50Plus. Not just during the holidays, but throughout the year too. Being single definitely has its perks! I asked my friends for the positives and here’s what they shared:
Singlehood provides opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth. It’s a time to focus on your own interests, goals, and aspirations without the need to compromise. You have the freedom to make your own decisions without considering your partner’s preferences.
Time for Self-Care
You have more time for self-care and self-reflection when single. That means you can dedicate time to hobbies, pursue passions, and take care of your overall well-being.
Without a spouse, you have the flexibility to make spontaneous decisions, travel on your own terms, and adapt your schedule to meet your needs. You have the freedom to decide how you want to spend your holidays without the need to coordinate plans with a partner.
Freedom to Explore
The single life offers the freedom to explore interesting experiences and try new activities. Often unattached individuals are more open to new opportunities and friendships that can provide unexpected joys and connections.
The Bottom Line on Being Single During the Holidays
After reading through this article, are you able to choose a different lens and perspective when you think about the holidays? Your current life situation may not be the one you want, but it’s helpful to try to appreciate where you are right now, knowing that nothing remains the same forever. Focus on acceptance, freedom, and self-love during this season of your life. Meet the holidays with realistic expectations. Remember that the absence of a romantic partner doesn’t diminish the quality of other relationships and you can still enjoy meaningful connections with family and community during the holidays.
If you find yourself feeling lonely, take a moment to reflect on all of the freedoms that come with being single and unattached. Treat yourself to something amazing, establish new traditions, and/or simply relax. In other words, this holiday season, celebrate yourself. You deserve it!
There is a great deal of societal pressure for individuals to be part of a couple during the holidays. Here are some common questions we hear about this topic.
Why do so many people view being single during the holidays as negative?
There’s a societal expectation that holidays should be spent with a romantic partner. This belief is often perpetuated by cultural traditions, media representations, and social norms.
Why do family gatherings and holiday events often focus on couples?
Cultural traditions and historical norms have often centered around the nuclear family. While this is changing, there’s still a tendency to emphasize couples during holiday celebrations.
Is there a specific reason for the emphasis on romantic relationships during the holidays?
Romantic relationships are often associated with companionship, and holidays are seen as a time for connection and togetherness. However, it’s important to recognize and celebrate various forms of connection, including friendships and family relationships.
How can I cope with the pressure to be in a couple during the holidays?
It’s essential to focus on what brings you joy during the holidays, whether that’s spending time with loved ones, engaging in festive activities, or enjoying solo traditions. Challenging societal expectations and embracing your own path can be empowering.
Why are holiday advertisements and media often centered around couples and families?
Advertisers often use images of couples and families to tap into the emotional aspect of the holidays. This representation may not fully reflect the diversity of individuals’ experiences during this time.