So you’re single !
It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not usually the horrible and mortifying experience that the romantic comedies portray. Unfortunately however, December’s rolled around, and suddenly our entire culture has decided to queue up to rub your nose in it.
The winter solstice is upon us, the Northern Hemisphere is in the middle of winter and the Christian god may or may not have been born 2,000 years ago. Time for the radio to play Mariah Carey on a loop while your friends all post photos of their ‘perfect’ relationships on social media and your Mum forces you to watch Love Actually. ‘Amatonormativity’— our culture’s insistence that romantic relationships are the be-all and end-all of human happiness— is particularly strong during the Christmas period. It’s in the music, the films and the long-awaited but always kind of disappointing Christmas adverts.
Fortunately, as someone whose Christmas list this year featured several items of aroace pride gear, the ‘problem’ of being single at Christmas is one I’m fairly familiar with. So, whether you’re newly available, still waiting for the right person, or happy staying solo forever, here are my top four reasons why it’s okay to be single at Christmas:
You don’t have to impress anyone.
Despite what Instagram and winter clothing adverts would have you believe, Christmas isn’t a time for looking your best. It’s a time for eating more than you would normally, drinking more than you would normally, and wearing those stupid Christmas cracker hats that tear if you so much as look at them. ‘Tis the season when we hold parties with the dress code “wear your ugliest jumper!”, and celebrate the kind of weather that leaves you with either windblown or hat hair, and stuffed inside the bulkiest coat you own. Nobody should be trying to look sexy in December, and the freedom not to bother can be a welcome relief.
You get time to focus on the other people in your life
We’ve all got that one friend who seems to get themselves surgically attached to whoever they’re going out with from the moment the relationship becomes official. But even if you’re not that extreme, a romantic partner can often draw time away from the other relationships in life, especially in the early days. Spending Christmas as a couple typically means being away from one or both of your families for at least part of the season. Celebrating apart can mean missing out on the full Christmas experience because you’re distracted by wondering what they’re doing, or texting them to find out.
If you’re newly single this Christmas, try taking the time to get more involved with Christmas celebrations in your family this year, or organise something with your friendship group. The average person gets only 86 Christmases to enjoy over the course of their lifetime. Try and be present for this one.
You can catch up on/develop your hobbies
The days between December 24th and January 1st are a liminal space. As the old year lies dying and the new one struggles to be born, then is the time to lie on the sofa eating chocolate biscuits and rewatching the same films you watch every year. For a student, this may be the longest guilt-free break from studying you get until June. If you were in a relationship you’d be spending it with your significant other— but since you aren’t, why not take the time to do something interesting?
Read the books you got for Christmas. Binge-watch that series you’ve been meaning to get around to. Bake a cake. Start an art project. Go on long walks and explore your local area. Take up D&D or LARPing. The human life is a long story, and the role of the romantic subplot should be just that, a subplot, not the whole book. There are so many more worthwhile ways to spend your time than worrying about when (or if) you’re going to get there.
Which brings me to my final point…
It’s fine at any time of the year
Christmas culture, and in fact Western culture in general, is very amatonormative. Years of fairytales, romcoms and love songs have convinced us all that the only road to happiness runs through a wedding ring. However, research shows that single people tend to experience better health, higher levels of personal growth and, in the case of women, more happiness than married couples. And they often have stronger social support networks too.
Ultimately, why dwell? Obsessing over your relationship status will do nothing to change it, and being single in no way prohibits you from having a merry Christmas. Or, more importantly, a happy New Year.