Confession: I would really like to skip Christmas this year. There, I said it. Usually, I’m all for Christmas. When the Hallmark Channel has its one-week celebration of Christmas in July, I literally start planning for the upcoming holiday season. But not this year. If I had my way, we’d just skip the entire month of December altogether and head straight to January 1st. Why? Because I’m single.
I know, I know, there are far worse things to happen in life than spending the holidays being single. I fully realize that. I’m in no way mitigating others who may be experiencing a major life event such as a crisis, illness, or loss of a loved one during this time of the year. But hey, single girls have feelings too, and I’m one of them.
After an extended time on my own and a wickedly cruel ghosting situation this past summer, I just want the year to be over with. (Is it 2023 yet?!) Unfortunately, I don’t own a time machine (yet), so alas, I must suffer through the holidays solo.
If only I could pull a Cameron Diaz in the movie The Holiday and jet set somewhere far, far away for two weeks and have a romantic tryst with Jude Law…hey, a girl can dream.
I know I can’t be the only person feeling this way, so I decided to take one for the team and ask the experts what to do when you’re single during the holidays. We can’t be left to just grin and bear it, right? There has to be some hope out there. (Please, tell me there’s hope out there.)
Here’s what you can do if being single during the holidays is your current relationship status.
Being single during the holidays
1. Be prepared
If you’ve been single for a while now, you may already anticipate the annoying questions from well-meaning family members. (Sigh.) Even though you may still see these questions coming, they can be hard to field sometimes. So be prepared with a few witty comebacks.
Here are a few examples of some questions you may get asked and how to be better prepared to answer them:
Are you dating anyone?
- “Good question. Are you?” (This is an especially fun response to a married person.)
- “I’m dating everyone!”
- “No, it’s not for me.”
Have you tried those dating apps?
- “No, but they sound delicious.”
- “Yes! I signed you up just last week.”
- “Yes, but they’re just not my thing.”
Are you like, super lonely?
- “Of course not. I have YOU to talk to.”
- “Yes. Will you be my best friend?”
- “Just because I’m alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely.”
2. Set boundaries
Human beings are curious by nature, but unfortunately, this innate trait makes people think they can ask all sorts of personal questions. Even if they’re family or good friends, it’s none of their business and you have every right to tell them so — politely, of course. (And only if you want.)
Let them know there are topics in your life they shouldn’t ask about and that you prefer to keep your personal life private. Setting boundaries will make dealing with intrusive questions about your relationship status (or lack thereof) easier — because you don’t have to answer if you don’t feel like doing so.
“It is more than okay to advocate for ourselves and with kindness explain what we are and are not comfortable discussing,” says Olga (Kat) Karasina, PsyD, of Midwest Counseling. “It may be helpful to guide the conversation in a different direction or gently challenge an idea that we do not agree with to help others better understand our needs and perspective.”
Family members should respect your wishes and should abstain from asking you why you’re still single. Hey, you don’t go around asking them why they are still married. See, it works both ways!
3. Bring a friend
By bringing a friend, I don’t mean hiring someone to pretend to be your romantic partner, though this option does sound quite compelling and seems to work out well for everyone in those Hallmark Christmas movies…anyway, I digress.
No, I’m talking about bringing an actual friend for companionship and support. Whether it’s a family white elephant gift exchange, a friend’s ugly sweater party, or even a holiday cocktail hour with the office, being single during the holidays is way easier to do when you have a fun friend in tow.
4. Celebrate with other singletons
If you don’t want to go home for the holidays, you do not have to. You’re a grown a$$ adult and you can decide for yourself how and who you spend your time with. (My mother would absolutely murder me if I skipped Christmas, so sadly, I’ll be present this year.)
But to all of you lucky few who can skip out on family celebrations, you can opt to spend time with other singletons. Being single during the holidays and celebrating with other single friends is one way to feel way less alone during the holidays.
5. Just say no
One of the best parts about being single during the holidays is you don’t have to make or participate in plans that involve anyone else if you don’t want to. Being single during the holidays may mean spending time alone, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you want to be alone.
Modern life is frenetic enough and even more so during the holiday season — so if you don’t feel like keeping up with that dizzying pace, then just say no. Just make sure you don’t spend this alone time feeling sad, lonely, and sulking. Plan to do things that you enjoy, make you happy, and ultimately fill up your cup.
6. Stay away from social media
If you ever wanted to feel bad about yourself and your life during any time of the year (and especially during the holiday season), hop on social media. Avoid the comparison trap and dissatisfaction that comes from mindlessly scrolling social media and consider taking a break from it altogether.
During the winter months, our bodies and spirits retreat inside to hibernate and slow down — so if you’re feeling down about being single during the holidays, take this time to lean into the feelings of loneliness and surrender instead of resisting. Find ways to nourish yourself. Embrace the quiet, heal, and relax.
Remember that just as the seasons change, so do our emotions, relationships, and situations. Nothing will remain the same forever, so lean into your feelings and trust they’ll eventually pass.
You can always choose a different lens and perspective with how you view your current relationship status, and that can help you create the holidays you want.
Focus on acceptance, freedom, and self-love during this temporary season of your life. This simple shift can be a powerful boost to your mindset and mood when you’re single during the holidays.
Steve Carleton, a licensed clinical social worker and the executive clinical director at Gallus, reminds us that being single during the holidays doesn’t define your worth or happiness.
“Our society often places undue pressure on being in a relationship during this time, but being single is just as valid and important,” he says. “Your relationship status does not lessen your value or worth as a person, so embrace and love yourself for who you are.”
Being alone during the holidays can also be a time for reflection and growth, shares Carleton. Ask yourself what you want and need, and use this time to focus on yourself and your personal development.
The bottom line on being single during the holidays
Being single during the holidays doesn’t have to be a death sentence, though it can definitely feel like it at times. Incorporate these seven suggestions and turn the most dreaded time of the year into the most wonderful time of the year — even if you’re stuck being single during the holidays.