Sometimes being single at Christmas can feel like you’re alone at Christmas. We’re here to remind you that those two things are not synonymous, and while it can feel like the season for love, romance, and relationships, it’s also the season for many other opportunities. Read on for our guide to combating holiday loneliness.
So you’re single at Christmas—what do you do?
We want to start off by saying that there’s nothing wrong with being single, at any time of the year. Repeat that to yourself! However, it can feel harder to be single at Thanksgiving or Christmas than any other time of the year. There are lots of parties, family get-togethers, and people asking why you still haven’t found “the one.” It can feel like a lot of pressure—and like all the happy couple’s eyes are on you because you’re single.
First things first: Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that nothing anyone says is a personal attack on you. The people in your life are asking why you’re single because they care about you and want you to find the love of your life. It’s not malicious, even though sometimes it may feel like it.
While it can be testing, you need to be able to tune out the noise. Try to have some answers prepared for when these awkward questions come up. You can say something like, “Dating is not a priority for me right now” or “I’m not interested in anyone at the moment” or even “Is there something wrong with being single?”
Remember, you can also be completely honest. Perhaps you’ve just gotten out of a long-term relationship, been on a string of bad dates, or are going through some personal changes. All of those are valid reasons for not being in a relationship. But also know this: You don’t have to answer the question at all. Take things at your own pace and check in with how you’re feeling, depending on who you’re speaking to. People who are close to you will understand that perhaps this is something you’re sensitive about.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re spending Thanksgiving or Christmas with lots of couples or families, you may feel like the odd one out. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and take care of yourself. Take a step back from any activities that make you feel isolated and explain to the group how you feel. Also make sure to buy yourself a gift—the positive thing about being single is that nobody needs to guess what you want!
Feeling lonely during the holidays
Once you’ve batted off the irritating relatives, you might realize that you do feel quite lonely. That’s OK—try to acknowledge these feelings rather than run away from them. Everyone struggles with feelings of loneliness at times, regardless of whether they’re in a romantic relationship or not.
A support group of other single people can be really helpful during this time period. If you’re all travelling to different places for the holiday season, set up a group chat so that you can keep in touch and check in with one another. You can tell them some of the things that people say to you and all laugh about it together. They’ll likely know exactly how you feel, and will also be going through similar experiences. This will boost your morale and remind you that even though you’re single, you aren’t alone.
If you can, meet IRL with family and friends. Filling your calendar with things to look forward to over the festive season is a great way to keep yourself busy, engaged, and once again remind yourself that just because you don’t have a romantic partner, it doesn’t mean you’re completely alone. If someone invites you to a party where you don’t know many people, put a brave face on and go along—you never know who you might meet! It’s important to remember that there are plenty of other single people out in the world, and to find them, you need to put yourself out there.
If you don’t have lots of friends and family, and find yourself with plenty of extra time on your hands around the holiday season, why not put it to good use instead? Volunteering at a homeless or animal shelter is a valuable way to give back to your community, and these places are usually understaffed around Christmas time. This can give you a real sense of purpose and also enable you to spend time with other people—which could lead to future friendships or relationships. This rewarding experience will open your eyes to the hardships of others and perhaps make you reflect on your own life more positively.
Of course, the holidays usher in the fast-approaching new year. With that brings plenty of feelings of self reflection, and often self criticism. (Come on, who hasn’t said that they’re going to lose weight next year for the past five years in a row?)
Try to tackle these negative thoughts head on. If you want to meet somebody and begin a relationship in the new year, reflect on what held you back or stood in your way this year. What could you do more or less of? What different things could you try? What kind of person do you see yourself ending up with? Start writing these things down and you’ll be surprised at what kind of thoughts come tumbling down onto the page. It can also be helpful to refer back to these notes in the new year if you don’t feel like things are going your way.
A great way to meet new people is through hobbies, and what better time to start a new hobby than in a new year? Think about something new you could try—knitting, pickleball, improv comedy, singing in a choir…the options are endless—and use some of your holiday downtime to start researching it. See if any other friends would want to come along with you, whatever the hobby or activity might be. You can always use apps like Bumble For Friends to find people with similar interests and go from there.
Being single is so often portrayed as something negative, but it actually presents plenty of positive opportunities for self growth. It’s important to remind yourself of this, especially over the holiday season.
With all of this being said, the holidays can be some of the most mentally challenging times for a lot of people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Support networks and even medical professionals can give you advice and coping mechanisms for when you’re feeling ultra-low. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, so please never struggle in silence.