(Especially at the holidays.)
It’s a simple fact, proven by Google Analytics and the current state of my DMs: It’s harder to be single at the holidays. The questions are coming in faster now, and they have a heavier tone to them. Everything has an equal and opposite flip side. And while there are matching pajamas and presents and cozy joy for some of us, the others of us who don’t have these things are watching people be happier than usual, while being sadder than usual ourselves. It is what it is, it’s the holidays. But I believe I can help.
I’m a realistic person who was socialized into a society that groomed me to value couplehood and marriage over literally everything else but had no way to know that when it came time to actually participate in those activities the biggest tool at my disposal would be fucking Tinder. On top of that, society also had no way to know that mine would be the first generation forced to consume the happiness of others being boasted about in a constant stream via a computer that I hold in my hand. Being single is harder at the holidays? No shit. My whole thing though…what if it wasn’t?
What if being single wasn’t something that made us feel bad, something that we had to try to fix and change at any cost? What if it was just another 100% valid and happy way to live, and a part of life that no one, not ourselves, not our families and friends, saw as a problem. It is possible to stop seeing single as bad, to stop seeing ourselves as lacking a partner. And when you’re able to do that, you buy the goddamned pajamas for yourself.
I don’t want being single to be something we “accept,” “deal with,” or “manage.” I want more for us than just accepting our lives, as if they’re somehow less or a consolation prize when compared to the lives of others. I want being single to be a time when we thrive. I want us to look forward to the holiday moments and traditions we create for ourselves, and to look back on the holidays we spent single with fondness, rather than an overwhelming sense of relief that we’re not single anymore. I don’t want us to look back on the single part of our lives and have the most prevailing thought be, “I’m glad that’s over.” Singlehood is too full of freedom, potential, and autonomy to wish it away as fast as possible. It’s also potentially a decent chunk of time! I’ve been single for almost 13 years, and that’s way too much of my life to have hated.
My singlehood isn’t something I hate. It’s something I value. It’s something I’m grateful for. I will never look back on it with disgust, more like pride and gratitude for everything I got to experience and learn. But I didn’t always feel this way. For a (very) long time, singlehood for me was just endless swiping into oblivion, never meeting anyone, and feeling like I was in a hell that I couldn’t climb out of, no matter how hard I tried. My effort was never met with reward, and I felt like I was losing my mind. Especially at the holidays. Now I podcast and write about how fucking rad singlehood is, so what I’m saying is: Change is possible.
I realize that suddenly snapping out of single misery is asking a lot of a community that’s been groomed to hate their own relationship status since the moment their long term memories came online, so let’s baby step this shit, shall we?
The way to feel better about being single, especially at the holidays, is to reframe the way you think about it. You allow yourself to view things from a different angle, and in broadening that lens for yourself, you lift your thoughts up to a more positive place. Those elevated thoughts then help you genuinely feel better about being single, too. And with more positive thoughts and emotions around being single, single people are free to just fucking live and stop treating every waking moment like an opportunity to hunt down a husband. Can you ignore my advice as nonsense, double down on not wanting to be single anymore, and just continue on swiping? Sure. But if you’re really, deeply tired of that, why not give reframing a try?
A few examples of how we take “old” thoughts about being single and reframe them into new thoughts that are more positive and quite frankly easier to think:
- Old Thought: I can’t believe I’m still single. I’ve tried everything, how the hell do I fix this? / New Thought: It’s harder to feel bad about something you don’t believe to be wrong in the first place. There is nothing to fix. I’m a complete, valid person already. I’m not broken.
- Old Thought: If I could just find someone, I’d be happy. New Thought: There is no perfect life situation that fixes all problems and has none of its own. I’m so lucky I have this time alone to figure out what really makes me happy, because another person will never be responsible for my happiness. That’s my job.
- Old Thought: I hate sleeping alone. New Thought: I get the whole bed.
- Old Thought: My friend just got engaged. I am so jealous. Why can’t I meet someone and get engaged? What’s wrong with me? New Thought: There is nothing inherently more “right” about my friend than me. She just happened to meet someone. I just haven’t met someone yet, and that’s largely due to luck, fate, the universe, whatever. My singleness isn’t a sign that I’m flawed. She’s not perfect, either.
- Old Thought: I can’t believe I’m spending another holiday alone. New Thought: I get to spend this holiday doing exactly what I want—or don’t want—this holiday is entirely mine.
- Old Thought: It’s just me at the holidays this year, so I should just get a little mini tree. New Thought: I don’t deserve something less or smaller just because I’m single. I want a 6-foot faux white tree covered in lights. (This one really happened to me. Tree photo below as proof.)
Your singlehood isn’s something that’s wrong with you, and the only one who can really tell you that in a way that’s going to stick is you. I’m just telling you that it’s an option, it’s up to you to start seeing it that way.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of unhappiness for singles. They’re truly my favorite time of year, full of personal traditions and decor and really, really cute pajamas. Honestly, it would be such a shame for me to look at all I have, to look at this time of my life that I’m able to completely customize, and still only be able to focus on the one thing I don’t have—a partner.
I wish more than acceptance of our single status for this community. I wish genuine happiness, too. Because when we have that, it becomes so much less likely that we’ll leave our singlehood behind for anyone who’s less than deserving of our time and love. For now though, this is our time, our endless capacity to live life fully and to enjoy it. It is also very much our holiday season, and we each have in us the ability to make it our happiest yet.
Written with endless love and respect for single people everywhere. Happy Holidays. Love, Shani.