Okay, so it’s Christmas.The lights are soft, sparkly and twinkling. The snowflakes are fluttering to the ground. The fireplace is warm and inviting. The scent of pine, eggnog and fruitcake fills the room. Every commercial, every song, every single social message, is talking about love and family and togetherness and belonging. Being single can feel positively shitty at a time like this.
The holidays seem to conspire to remind you of your aloneness. You think of the family you’re going to see, the questions they will ask about whether you’re seeing anyone and the comments they will make in their heads or to your face when you say you’re not. You think of the office Christmas party and how lame it will be to go to it alone again and you think of the New Year’s countdown and how it will be just you and your girls in the silly hats holding up glasses of champagne.
So, what do you do? You start going through the mental Rolodex of all the guys (or girls) you’ve ever dated. The ones who worked out, the ones who didn’t, the ones who could have if only the timing was right, and before you know it you’ve picked out a name, done some reminiscing, engaged in some historical rewriting of events, and reached out through Facebook, Twitter, the phone or smoke signal to rekindle something that was dead for a reason. It’s basically a relationship redo, a sexual relapse, brought on by the stigma of being single and the gloominess that the prospect of going through the holidays without that someone special brings on. I’m not judging it. I’ve been there. But here’s the thing: Whatever legitimate reasons there were why things didn’t work out before are probably still there, right?
These issues didn’t just miraculously disappear because your selective memory chose not to bring them up. They’ll resurface, either during the holidays—leading to an unceremonious separation that might leave you feeling lonelier than before—or after the holidays—when you’re saddled with a relationship that doesn’t have what it takes to go the distance. The momentary discomfort of being alone might pale in comparison to the effort it takes to get rid of the Rent-A-Dude. Having sung carols or opened presents without someone to hold your hand might seem very bearable when you put it up against how crappy the entire short-lived relationship might be.
And what about the sex? Is having someone to tell Aunt Irma about, when she asks why you’re so independent you don’t think you need a man and what is going on with you, gal, why can’t you just be a little softer, really worth the backache and heartache of the bad sex? Is having someone to cuddle with near the fire and kiss under the mistletoe really worth the “clusterfuck” if you resurrect this relationship and the sex is great because it’s the only thing you and this person ever did well together and then you get “dickmotized” and can’t let go of someone who is terrible for you because you’re sprung? From where I’m sitting, it all ends badly.
I know it’s easier said than done but I’m starting to come to the conclusion that being alone shouldn’t be a source of discomfort. Enjoying the holidays and the chance to be with loved ones we’re not romantically involved with can be a wonderful thing—a fulfilling, stress-free, easier on our wallets, fiscally kinder activity. But only after we let go of the message that by ourselves we’re not enough and our not having a significant other isn’t some kind of commentary on our character or our worth. We need to extend some of that Christmas spirit of care, love and understanding to ourselves and just sit back, enjoy the holidays and give ourselves pats on the back for our good decision-making.
F.N. is a thirty something free-lance writer from Ghana. Currently, she is trying out a new life in Washington, DC