How To Survive Being Single At The Holidays

With the month of December come festivity and revelry, lights and music, reflection and optimism. But for some, it may be a little too warm and fuzzy.

Never more during the calendar year is there increased awareness and observation, both internal and external, of being single than the holiday season. Sure, Valentine’s Day embraces relationships, but the commercialism and over-sentimentality of the day are enough for many to easily ignore. Come December, however – a month abounding with celebrations as a new year approaches – being single becomes a heightened status. It’s the time of year when social gatherings may be as much obligatory as they are anticipated; work parties and family functions mean especially different things to different people, likely requiring some calculation. Part of the holiday season is a whole bunch of activities that inadvertently differentiate those in relationships from those who aren’t.

And that shouldn’t be something to feel bad about.

Those parties are looming, the family gatherings await, and New Years Eve is marked on the calendar. But, while pop culture tells magical stories of people coupling up (with more than a few featuring couples faking it for comedic purposes, only to actually fall in love), and events ask you for your plus-one, it’s neither a time to fret nor shy away from being single. Most of those movies are garbage anyway. And no, Love, Actually does not hold up.

  1. There is nothing wrong with being single – at Christmas or any other time.

First and foremost, let’s dispel this notion that there is something wrong with being single at any point in the year or in your life, for however long. To suggest that being single is somehow unfulfilling, or that you are lacking something special without it, is cruel. The notion that for most people relationships exist in a binary state, either being in an exclusive one or not – with the exception being ‘dating’ when one is in transition – is equally absurd. This one-or-the-other equation undermines the complexities of the expectations and needs of two people. What’s more, an increasing number of people are embracing non-traditional or polyamorous relationships, accepting the uncontrollable desire for physical embrace while still maintaining strong emotional ties. Relationships, loosely and widely defined now in 2015, are no longer a narrow, escalating road that takes you from being single to married.

Singledom does not mean one is lacking anything; too often being in a relationship is viewed as a choice, while being single is seen as some sort of problem. Single doesn’t mean lonely – it means free. It doesn’t show weakness; it demonstrates independence. It also means that you can stay out as late as you want, go wherever you choose, and spend the night with another person. Or persons. Consecutively or at the same time. Sorry, taken people.

  1. Being single might just increase – yes, increase – your opportunities for romance.

The holiday season reinforces negative notions of being single, which can be disheartening for those single and looking, or frustrating for those steadfastly solo. There are ways to forgo the aggravation, though.

Should you indeed be looking for – or at least curious about – a bit of holiday romance, you definitely won’t be alone. There are many who are single and looking for some winter embrace; if summer flings can exist, so too can Christmas ones. Being single at the holidays means that at functions teeming with strangers, you’re free to mingle and have fun (admittedly tougher at family affairs). Like meeting someone on a whim in the summer, December has its own spontaneous magic, unbridled by practicality or worry. Is it really more fun to kiss your long-time partner under the mistletoe than someone new and mysterious?

What’s more, it’s simply easier to meet people. Not only are there those out there looking to savour the nature of the season, but pretty much everyone has free time. We’re all getting more selective of who we give our time and energy to – that’s why Tinder is so populated. School is out and work lessens. Some of us are home for the holidays in situations where we might want a reprieve from family. Come January and February, we’re all more inclined to stay in and cuddle up with Netflix; in lively December, though, we’re heading out the door. Volume and accessibility does count for something when so much of relationships are simply about timing.

  1. No significant other means no meeting a significant other’s family.

Then there are those aforementioned parties. Being single means no meeting your partner’s family, a situation where you‘re likely trying to not do too much of any of a number of favourite things, like talking, drinking, and eating. There is no need for putting on social niceties either, falling awkwardly into conversations about politics or world affairs with tepid responses like, ‘boy, I don’t know,’ and ‘It’s crazy out there.’

  1. No obligatory waiting-until-the-holidays-are-over breakups.

If you’re in a relationship, and November is nearing an end, you better be ready to commit for at least five more weeks.

That’s because you’re not breaking up with someone around Christmas or New Years. That’s just cruel, and pretty much on you for not anticipating problems. If it is the holiday season though that creates friction, then you have to wait until about a week after New Years for a respectable uncoupling. I was in the former category once, and the relationship, at around the four month mark, was in a precarious spot. With some minor concerns and uncertainty about the future, the commitment supercharger that is the holidays forced my hand the first few days of December.

  1. You can hibernate.

One highly underrated plus of being single means no getting up and going out in the cold of December when you don’t feel like it. When you made plans back in November with your partner, you were stuck. But if you’re alone, you don’t have to go out.

  1. You don’t have to buy presents.

But there’s more! The money you save from nervously buying a gift (you know, where you are careful not to set expectations too high in a new relationships while not sabotaging one with minimal effort) can go to drinks, and more drinks, for you and whatever attractive person(s) you meet at a bar.

We all seem programmed to want to be coupled up this time of year –and yet in January, there is an inclination to start fresh and maybe reassess your life. Fear and discomfort are the worst reasons not to do something. Christmas comes but once a year, and like every other day, it doesn’t matter who you’re with or why, no matter what holiday movies tell you. Except Die Hard. Trust Die Hard.

Anthony Marcusa
Anthony Marcusa is a Toronto-based freelance journalist whose writing dabbles in film, TV, music, sports, and relationships – though not necessarily in that order. He’s simultaneously youthfully idealistic and curmudgeonly cynical. But he’s always curious.

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