November 22, 2016 at 5:33 AM #1540
We all know this can be a hard time of the year for singles, and with recent world events, this year might be a bit more complicated than most. Thought it might be good to have an ongoing thread to help us all through the next few months.
What are everyone’s plans for Thanksgiving?November 22, 2016 at 6:51 PM #1542
Good thread, Mariposa!
While I have been seeing someone, it’s in the very early stages and casual. Casual as in we’re spending Thanksgiving apart from each other and my family hasn’t met him. My extended family doesn’t know I’m dating anyone.
If you’ve been in the dating world for a period of time, we’re all familiar with the feeling of “I don’t know if this is going to work out yet…” “I just need time to wait and see…” I’ve dated some men that I thought were fantastic, but was blindsided with the “I think we’re looking for different things” talk.
So with that said, I will be spending this Thanksgiving without a partner next to me. Maybe next year? ;)
So how will I “survive” it? First, I strongly dislike discussing my dating life with extended family. It has happened way too many times where I jumped the gun and said, “I’m dating this amazing guy,” only for him to dump me and then at the next family event I have to explain that I’m not with that person anymore and re-live the heartache again.
So if I’m asked “Are you seeing anyone right now?” I’m just going to say, “I’ve been getting to know someone and it’s still very new… anyways, how have you been?! Did you ever re-finish your basement?!”
I don’t want to dive into my personal life this year. I’ll talk about work, cool events I’ve been to, or a recent vacation I took with friends instead.November 23, 2016 at 1:35 AM #1543
I also always dread relationship conversations that bubble up this time of year, and I like your approach, Courtney. I try to answer briefly and refocus the conversation on what is a more interesting conversation. New Year’s Eve has always been the hardest for me so this year I am traveling with a friend to Puerto Rico for the new year. As joyful as the holidays are it can also be difficult to be surrounded by married friends/children so I’m not going to feel obligated to say yes to every invitation if I need time to decompress – something that has come up in other threads.November 23, 2016 at 1:55 AM #1545
I think the whole “are you seeing someone?” question is really intrusive. And this might be mean, but I kind of enjoy throwing things back in people’s faces and making them ever so slightly uncomfortable. Used this one at a wedding this summer: “I’ve gone out with someone a couple times recently. He did tell me how he gets his drugs on the internet, but he’s otherwise a really nice guy…” Their faces were priceless, and it shut them up. (That also really happened on the last date I went on.)
November 23, 2016 at 6:34 AM #1547
- This reply was modified 12 months ago by Reds10. Reason: To add
It’s my first time posting and kind of hard to be so open with strangers, but so many of you do it so well so I’ll give it a try!
My struggle with the holidays isn’t about intrusive questions from family or people around the dinner table, it’s about getting through the holidays themselves. Thanksgiving and Christmas feel like annual, huge, painful reminders that my life isn’t what I want it to be. I do try to focus on the things I’m grateful for, like spending time with my family or with friends, but overall I’m overwhelmed with feelings about how I want so much to be cooking with a partner, having a family of my own (and family to me starts with a partner so it’s not children I’m longing for at this point), and creating my own family traditions. This is how I’ve felt every holiday season for the last few years. There was one Thanksgiving I was back with an ex but our day was tense and not what I wanted, and not long after I ended the relationship for the final time, so ultimately that was another reminder of how far I was from what I wanted. I’ve been single since then, for the last 2 years, and even though I was single for long periods of time in the past, it’s been the hardest two years because in the last 3 years is when I’ve really longed for a relationship and commitment and all that. Every holiday season seems to get harder.
And of course I feel like the only one who doesn’t have that. At work I’m surrounded by people who have either a partner or a partner+children. I’m 38 and the only woman older than 30 or 35 who’s not in a relationship or married. I’ve just recently been noticing this and thinking–it’s not just in my head! I really am all alone in my experience!
So do any of you have any advice for dealing with these kinds of feelings? I am trying to get into a daily meditation practice and be with my feelings, so I already know all about that and–of course–it’s hard! Like last year, this year I’m wishing I could just fast forward thru time to January 1!November 24, 2016 at 4:07 AM #1549
Mv2308, thanks for sharing. My experience with the holidays is pretty similar to yours. I also find this time of year to be a reminder of how my life isn’t moving forward in the way I want, and my birthday is in December too which doesn’t help (although I guess on the bright side, it gets it all over with at once!). There are so many things to love about this time of year and I know I have a lot to be grateful for, but I’m also constantly battling with my own head, and coping with that for a month’s worth of family and couple-focused events gets really draining. It’s a bizarre mix of happiness and sadness all at once, and it can get really hard to keep putting on a brave face for different social events (that I still want to go to, I just wish they didn’t make me sad).
I’m lucky that I don’t get too many questions from family (but Courtney, I love your strategy for that!), but I’m definitely guilty of assuming that everyone’s judging me for showing up single yet again. I tend to get more questions from friends, and while I know they’re just coming from a place of wanting me to be happy, it’s a hard time of year to have to answer them.
Like mamey2422, I struggle the most with New Year’s Eve. It’s so couple-y, and I think by then I’m just done after fighting for a month to keep my head in a positive space. I completley agree with her advice to not feel obliged to say yes to everything. It’s finding that balance between staying engaged with the most important people in your life and carving out time for yourself to recharge and do whatever makes you happy. That’s my goal this year anyway. We’ll see how it goes.November 24, 2016 at 6:36 PM #1550
Great responses, everyone! I completely second New Year’s Eve possibly being the worst to endure. It’s like the grand finale of a season of loneliness. What’s the tradition of ending the year and beginning a new one? Kissing someone. And I’ve been at many New Year’s Eve parties where I stood alone and just raised my glass at midnight. I wish I didn’t care so much… but I absolutely hate that “tradition.” Maybe have a shot of an alcoholic beverage ready (if that’s your thing) and cheers to yourself at midnight. Cheers to health, future wealth, and having incredible and strength. THIS isn’t easy, but we’re a group of TOUGH individuals who have endured.November 25, 2016 at 10:09 PM #1551
Thanks Mariposa for starting this important discussion (BTW, I love your name. I’m a big fan of butterflies. :)
I love everyone’s responses and will agree, holidays are tough.
This t-giving, I was trying to figure out what to do with myself. Both of my siblings visited my cousin and even if they had told me to come, I wouldn’t have because everyone there would be a family…and then me. My parents wanted me to come visit them since they’d be on their own, but I was just there and don’t really feel good being there for multiple reasons.
Thankfully, it worked out that I was able to hop to a couple of dinners and then last minute plans to go to the movies with someone, whose husband was out of town, and her kids. It was nice. I have a friend who’s engaged who had no problem spending it alone. I wish I was like that but I feel so much more alone knowing everyone is spending the day with loved ones.
I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I do feel the pain of not having anyone to spend it with. Everyone’s off and everything’s closed, so it’s either extremely boring or extremely fun. Last year I treated myself to a movie on Christmas Day.
At the risk of sounding creepy, I really wish there was a way for all of us to meet up and spend the holidays or whatever day together. It’s so much easier to be OK with being single when you’re not the only one.November 27, 2016 at 9:30 PM #1554
Hello everyone, I discovered this community after reading Sara’s book which was very helpful to me, as is this community. I do not live in the US and I am not a native English speaker, so please ignore my errors :-)
I can see myself in many of the posts here, I am 38 turning 39 soon and single for some time now. Last year I had a big crisis after ending a relationship which did not work at all. I wanted it to work so much as to me it seemed like my last chance of having a family. All of my friends have kids and most of them a partner, too and I feel like they cannot really understand how it is to feel lonely and trying to accept that your chance of having a child is getting less and less…
Fortunately, I can spend christmas still with my family; I live only few hours away from them. As for New Year’s Eve, yes, that is also one of the hardest days of the year for me. In addition, the cold and dark of winter depresses me and so what I try to do is to spend my long vacation during this time and go to warm and sunny places. I love backpacking in South America, so this year right after christmas I will get my backpack and go to the Carribean. Many backpackers also travel alone so I do not feel that lonely, the warmth and sun help me to feel better and New Year’s Eve loses kind of its importance as it is just another day of vacation.November 29, 2016 at 3:19 AM #1558
Thanks LoneStar! So glad to hear you had a nice Thanksgiving. :)
Courtney, I’m so with you about midnight on New Year’s Eve. It’s a horrible feeling and hands down, my least favourite moment of the year. But yeah… having a drink (or several!) helps and I like your idea for what to think about during that moment. And Angelita and Mamey2422, I love the idea of traveling for New Year’s Eve too. Both your trips sound amazing.November 29, 2016 at 8:32 PM #1559
Angelita, I love the idea of backpacking! And you’re right, a lot of people backpack solo. I actually took my first solo trip this past September (first plane ride alone, first time visiting a new city alone, etc…). It was actually one of the best feelings. You don’t realize how many people are doing stuff “alone” until you’re out meeting random people at new restaurants and just striking up conversations.
Also, the silver-lining to traveling alone is that doing everything on my own schedule was an absolute luxury. I went to bed when I wanted, woke-up when I wanted, and then chose wherever I wanted to go for the day. If I wanted to stop and do some shopping, I did. If I wanted to eat at a specific place, I did. I would definitely travel alone again in the future.December 5, 2016 at 10:30 PM #1567
Hi there! I’m a writer and editor for Solo-ish, the Washington Post’s blog about unmarried life. I’m writing a story about celebrating the holidays while single. If any of you would like to speak to me on the record, would you please email me at Lisa.Bonos@washpost.com?
Thanks & happy holidays!December 7, 2016 at 9:46 PM #1569
I’d love to read the final article Lisa writes but when I discoverish Solo-ish I burned up all my free articles allowance and can’t afford a subscription since I’m unwaged disabled. However since maybe only a couple of lines from a few people will make it into the final piece, I’m sharing my answer to the Christmas question here, and if anyone else does too hopefully we could get a good discussion going.
I saw you were writing an article on celebrating the holidays while single, and thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth. I am 47, not working due to disability, and will be celebrating my first Christmas Day alone for the first time since 2002 when I took a holiday to Barcelona to go to a language school, but was alone in a cold flat (I couldn’t figure out how the gas central heating was operated!) unable to figure out how to cook either, and with everything shut so I had a huge bunch of grapes from the day before plus some chocolate bars for my Christmas Dinner – lessons learned! For another post I made in Sara Eckel’s forum someone in the group shared an anecdote about studying nursing and feeling sorry for herself because she always worked weekends, until a colleague said something along the lines of “who says a weekend has to be on a Saturday and a Sunday?” and she started scheduling more fun activities on other weekday evenings. So I am determined to have a good Christmas season even if my Christmas Day itself is less than ideal. Since I’m not working and don’t have the traditional “work’s night out” with colleagues, I am going to a Christmas meal tomorrow with people I know from being a member of my local branch of Toastmasters. I bought an “ugly Christmas design” cardigan with a reindeer and snowflake print just for the occasion. On Sunday 11th I am going with a friend to see “The Christmas Effect” where a bunch of local music stalwarts like the BMX Bandits, Teen Canteen and Emme Woods perform cover versions of their two favourite Christmas songs to raise money for Woman’s Aid and Scottish refugees (so a warm glow from both favourite songs being covered and also the ticket price raising money).
For Christmas Day itself I can’t cook but will treat myself to the posher Marks & Spencer department store ready meal versions of an Xmas meal (I’ll buy one each for both Christmas Day and Boxing Day, that’s what I did last year and they were surprisingly good). And I will at some point follow the Japanese customer of tidying up and making my flat nice and clean ready for a new start January 1st, I have that Marie Kondo “Spark Joy” book. I won’t be tidying on Xmas Day itself but as part of the season, and thankfully a non-profit called Carr Gomm are helping me with that. Finally as tempting as it is to spend Christmas Day in my jammies and with the heating on full blast as a treat (and to compensate for that Baltic cold day in Barcelona, I have some “hygge” fleece throws bought today as well , I will get out for a walk in Queen’s Park, Southside Glasgow since some fresh air and natural light will help my mood. Since I have social anxiety disorder and am an introverted bookworm even if a friend offered me to be part of their Christmas dinner celebrations spending a day socialising would exhaust me and I would need to decline. I will use the HelloTalk app to trade voicemails and messages with online Spanish-speaking friends learning English, and participate in any discussions going on in a big group I’m part of there called Espanglish, and I’ll have my laptop switched on all day so while I am watching TV shows I will also be checking in with fellow socially anxious people in the chatroom of the UK web site “Social Anxiety UK”. Some people used to big family occasions might find such a Christmas Day pitiable but really I think I will be fine, it’s only the thought of other people giving me pitying looks that would make me feel bad about it. That one time I spent a lot of money spending two weeks at Christmas going to a language school at Barcelona to escape the thought of a Christmas alone in Scotland, and ended up alone anyway, cold and with nothing hot to eat. This year I am embracing the season, treating myself to good self-care and some treats, and finding my joy in other parts of the festive season (like The Christmas Effect event) and not just cramming it all into one expensive and pressurised Christmas Day like so many people do.
Best wishes from Glasgow,
Colin BellDecember 11, 2016 at 1:03 AM #1574
Here’s the article Lisa Bonos wrote: How to Survive the Holidays Whilw Single or Divirced.
You need a (free) account to read it.December 11, 2016 at 6:24 PM #1575
Thanks so much for the link to the article, Mamey2422. That was a great read! I can definitely relate to the “Groundhog Day” feeling that this time of year brings and I really like Sara’s idea of making a list of accomplishment for the year. I’m going to do that today and keep it in my phone as a reminder of all the things that ARE going well, so I can look at it when I’m not feeling so great about things.
I’ve always spent Christmas with my family, but I know not everyone has that opportunity, and I also like the suggestion of just relishing the quiet of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and using the time to reflect, spend time in nature, or do whatever else makes you happy. This fits well with CameraObscuraFan’s idea above that Christmas doesn’t have to happen only on the actual day, and I think that’s a really great point. I can see how this could feel lonely, but with the right mindset it could also be really lovely (and for whatever it’s worth, I still feel lonely at Christmas despite being surrounded by family, so I think for many people that feeling is there no matter what).
And I also really liked the point at the end about how appearances can be deceiving. I know this is true for my own life but I forget to apply this same logic when thinking about friends and extended family. Life is complicated, and those perfect family Christmas photos on social media only reflect part of the picture. I know I can fall very easily into the “everyone has it better than me” trap and I need to make a conscious effort to remind myself that it isn’t as simple as that. Single or married, with or without kids, we all have things in our lives that are hard and things we wish we could change.
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