There’s something about the most wonderful time of the year that brings out the best and worst in single people. One day you’re feeling festive and bright at your colleague’s cookie exchange. Then you’re seized with deep longing as you stroll past the fake Christmas trees at your local big box store. “This year was supposed to be different,” you tell yourself. This year you were supposed to have a holiday sweetie. This year you were supposed to enjoy all that couply comfort and joy – you know, decorating a tree with ornaments from your travels throughout the year, holding hands at your company party or baking matching gingerbread cookies to photograph and post on Facebook.
The holidays are hard on the hardiest of single souls. It’s all too easy to buy into the idea that the season is only meaningful if shared with someone special. Yet some single people sail through them just fine. Some even manage to enjoy them!
Here are some of their secrets:
1) They don’t let themselves feel bad for what they don’t have.
They don’t get misty-eyed with nostalgia for a version of the holidays they created in their heads years ago but doesn’t actually exist. They recognize that the occasional lonely ache in their gut is a temporary uncomfortable feeling and not their fate or identity. They remember that the holidays are also a time to observe religious rituals and celebrate with extended family. If they crave connection with others, they appreciate the chance to go shopping with their cousins, sing carols at their house of worship or participate in a food drive with a local charity.
And while the season might be more fun as an established couple, they take advantage of the opportunity to plan some holiday dates with new people. Some ideas: Go ice skating. Pick up some gingerbread lattes and drive around the neighborhoods with the best decorated houses. Research which lounges or cafes have fireplaces.
2) They create their own fun traditions.
They host an ugly sweater bar crawl or white elephant party for their friends or an afternoon tea for all the women in their family. Or they sign up for a Holiday 5K with their kids or take their nieces and nephews to a library tree lighting. After my parents divorced, my brothers and I started a Christmas dinner tradition of eating at a fancy Indian buffet. It beat feeling bad that we weren’t having the same honey-baked ham with my mom’s side of the family.
An added bonus of ratcheting up your social life during the holidays: You’re making sure you’ll get a lot of reciprocal invites during the rest of the year. Plus, you’ll be on email lists of different community and social organizations.
3) They use the holiday down time to get ready for the new year rush.
Dating activity tends to slow down when everyone gets busy with other obligations. Successful daters take advantage of this short off season to get physically and emotionally ready for the beginning of January when online dating subscriptions surge. They drop a few pounds, shop for date outfits, update their profiles or de-clutter their home and life. By the time all that red and green has been put away, they’re feeling fresh and raring to go.
4) They stay hopeful and positive.
This is an essential skill to have any time of year. But it’s especially valuable during those cold evenings when you’re feeling a little down as you walk back from that ugly sweater party by yourself. Successful daters know it’s a matter of when – not if – they will find love. They have faith in themselves that they are doing what they need to do to make it happen. Then they relax and get their sparkle on.
What strategies do you use to thrive during this time of year?
About the Author:
Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate and Salon.