A Singular magazine classic and a must-read for those living single. Yes, you really can have a fabulous single life, you really can be single and happy — even over the holidays.
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Watch out! The holidays are once again upon us, and for singles in Los Angeles, really singles anywhere, that can only mean one thing: a veritable avalanche of tips and tricks aimed at helping us survive being single at Christmas as a Party of One.
From now through next March, get ready for a flurry of “expert” advice ranging from the surprisingly useful (how to dodge a bad holiday fix-up, a tip that can actually come in handy any time of the year) to the vaguely guilt-inducing (how to avoid feeling sorry for yourself by volunteering at a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter or any other place that will remind you there are people out there even more miserable than you must surely be) to the truly insulting (how to craft a scintillating personal ad that will absolutely, positively guarantee you won’t end up alone under the mistletoe come next December).
It’s tempting to believe we need help, however misguided it may be. After all, from family reunions teeming with disapproving relatives who shake their heads and sigh, “Oh well, maybe next year,” upon discovering our still-mateless condition to the well-meaning co-workers who bombard us with cringe-inducing anecdotes about how they too had given up all hope before eventually finding their one true love, the pressure to couple up at this time of year is nothing short of relentless. It’s enough to send even the most confirmed singular screaming into the New Year with one all-consuming resolution: to never face being single at Christmas again.
Not that the advent of the New Year brings any relief. Au contraire — that’s when the fun really begins.
Just after you’ve finished taking down the tree, cleared away the champagne glasses and bundled Great Aunt Edna off to the airport, along comes the most insidious onslaught yet: the fliers from local dating services. The special offers from area health clubs. The TV and radio ads from eHarmony and Match.com. All bursting with promises, overflowing with recriminations and bearing the unmistakable message that, yes, you might have survived this round of holidays on your own, but do you really want to take a chance next year?
Hell yeah, we do!
Maybe I’ve missed something over the years, but since when are the holidays supposed to be some kind of referendum on our marital status? Or more precisely, why should the holidays be a referendum on our marital status?
As far as I’m concerned, the holiday season has always been about one thing and one thing only — gathering around the dinner table with my parents and siblings and resurrecting decades-old grudges to see who will burst into tears and flee the room first. Isn’t that why Thanksgiving was invented?
But to spend all that time and energy agonizing over whatever it is I’m supposedly missing, instead of appreciating everything I already have? No thanks. And why, with all the amazing possibilities the coming year holds for us, should we squander our precious New Year’s resolutions simply to line the pockets of so-called dating gurus like John Gray and Neil Clark Warren. Believe it or not, it is possible to make major — or even minor — life changes that have nothing to do with altering your relationship status but will nonetheless leave you happier, healthier and more fulfilled by the time the next new year rolls around.
Taking a principled stand against the tyranny of the relationship industry by refusing to buy into its hype and loneliness-mongering would not be a bad place to start.
This means eschewing that tired old conventional wisdom we’ve been conditioned to accept as fact for far too long: that being single at Christmas is something that must be “survived” with stoicism rather than embraced with gusto; that even a bad New Year’s Eve date is better than no date at all; or that to throw yourself wholeheartedly into the spirit of the season despite your unattached status is some sort of affront to the coupled world around you. “You’re not supposed to be this happy!” you can almost hear them snarl. “After all, you’re … you’re … alone!”
In a perfect world, everyone — single, coupled or something in between — should be able to relax and experience the holidays at their own speed, doing whatever is important to them.
As singulars, we have the freedom and flexibility to create that “perfect” holiday for ourselves, whether it includes enjoying lots of time with family and friends or getting as far away from them as humanly possible. None of that means we can’t make room in our lives for someone else if we want to; it simply ensures that it’s a conscious choice, not a societal mandate. We don’t need to twist ourselves into knots to fit someone else’s outmoded template of what we “should” be doing.
Goodness knows we spend enough time doing that the rest of the year.
And it’s not like we couldn’t use a breather. After all, I have it on good authority that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.
Copyright © Leslie Talbot/2016 Singular Communications, LLC.
Leslie Talbot is the author of Singular Existence – Because It’s Better to Be Alone Than Wish You Were, inspired by her website and popular blog. She’s discusses singles issues on numerous national radio and television talk shows and has been featured in Forbes magazine, The Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today and The Arizona Republic. Leslie lives in Boston with her cat and says, “I am single and living alone, so of course I have a cat. Isn’t it required?”