While some people can’t wait to pack up their winter woollies and hole up with their extended family for the festive period, many singletons would rather trade their right kidney than face endless questions about their romantic life from their nearest and dearest.
If being stuck with your relatives without a commuter bus or train in sight sounds more like ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, never fear, there are ways to avoid festive frustrations.
Avalon Relationship Consultants leading family therapist, David Kavanagh is at hand to explain how to survive this family-related holiday with your sanity intact.
“We always call people happily married but why don’t we ever call people happily single? Why don’t we identify within ourselves that ‘I am happily single?’ asks David.
“You have freedom, you have independence, you have the ability to choose the rest of your life without having to ask someone’s permission.
"Maybe accept and realise that your brothers and sisters could be quite jealous that you are single. Don’t take it as a personal attack.”
With everyone from Demi Lovato and Diane Keaton waxing lyrical about the joy of singledom, it’s advice you should take to heart.
“The best part about being single is knowing that my happiness is coming from no other person than myself,” the “I Love Me” singer wrote in an Instagram Story in December 2020.
While Keaton – who dated Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, and Al Pacino, among others, also wants the world to know she isn’t saddened by her single status.
“I remember, when I was young, I honestly believed in some ridiculous way that you would find someone who would be the person you lived with until you died. I don’t think that because I’m not married it’s made my life any less. That old maid myth is garbage.”
If you find that your relationship status is in the firing line, there are ways you can divert a family bust-up?
“If you know that your father or mother is going to say x y and z and you know it is going to infuriate you, prepare for it in advance,” says David.
“Know your triggers, so when it does happen you can choose to react differently.
"The typical anger management approach is to let the person have their say but if you agree with someone who is giving you a hard time, for example, if your mother or father says to you, ‘Oh it’s awful that you don’t have a partner’, all you have to say is, ‘Yes, your absolutely right, I will have to work on that next year’.
“It is very hard for them to continue that conversation unless you get defensive. So if you take on the attitude, ‘you’re so right, What type of partner should I go for?’ Throw it back at them and they will be stumped.”
According to David it is our responsibility to summon our self-control.
“It is very easy to let someone else ruin your Christmas because they have an agenda. If you want to have a happy Christmas, choose it yourself, choose behaviours, choose thoughts, and choose to be around people that make you feel good.
"If you are vexed go for a walk, calm yourself down, listen to your favourite music and give yourself the Christmas you deserve, don’t expect other people to provide you with fabulous Christmas memories.”
Dr Caroline West, Bumble’s Sex and Relationships Expert echoes David’s sentiments.
“Whilst the festive season is a wonderful time of year, for some it can trigger feelings of anxiety as it often involves questions about their love life or expectations of bringing a partner to family gatherings.
“Over the past year, we have seen people dating with intention and remaining single if they don’t find the right person, with over half (53%) choosing to be ‘consciously single’ and not rush into relationships. So whilst you may get quizzed on your relationship status, you are not alone in wanting to wait for the right person to join you at Christmas dinner”.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of sharing the Christmas table with your family, Bumble has some tips on how to respond to awkward questions over the festive period:
“Are you still single?”
Whilst this appears to be a tricky question on the surface, more and more people are consciously single and waiting for the right person. Especially since the dating rule book was pretty much thrown out of the window over the last year-and-a-half. Simply letting your family or friends know that you are intentionally dating, taking your time to find someone that aligns with your values rather than rushing into a relationship, can address this question perfectly.
What is wrong with you?
Nothing! Is the answer. However, we appreciate this can be a trickier one to handle. Whilst often said in jest, it can still knock your confidence. First, let us reiterate that there is nothing wrong with you, nor being single.
One way to deal with this question is to give a humorous reply such as "Have you seen me, it’s more about what is wrong with everyone else…"
Do you not want children?
Having children is something that happens in your own time and quite simply isn’t something that everyone wants.
Answering this question may draw on sensitive subjects, equally this is a very personal matter so you are well within your rights to change the subject and shut down the conversation… time to pull a Christmas cracker anyone?
You need to be less fussy…
Friends and family often think they know best when it comes to relationships, sometimes suggesting that you need to lower your standards. Let it be known that you’re not willing to settle.
You’re looking to find someone who has the same interests, values and ambitions as you, rather than simply accepting someone who shows attention or affection. Remind them it’s better to be happy alone than unhappy with someone.
Are you on any dating apps?
If you are asked about being on dating apps, don’t be shy - own it! Being on a dating app means that you are taking your relationship status into your own hands and exploring who is out there. How empowering!
Your nearest and dearest may be welcoming your plus one to Christmas next year thanks to a connection made on Bumble.