December can be the trickiest time of year to be single.
Valentine’s Day is a blessedly brief 24-hour-period, but the winter holiday season goes on and on. There are office Christmas parties, potluck dinners among friends, extended family gatherings and, of course, there’s New Year’s Eve.
If you happen to be single, it’s not always easy navigating questions about your relationship status between mouthfuls of stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Aidan, a 38-year-old film producer, admits he sometimes dreads holiday get-togethers as they tend to prompt family members to inquire about his personal life.
“The pressure is always there,” Aidan says. “Mom knows I’m out and about a lot and knows I date often. She knows I’m having fun but also wishes I would settle down with one person. She doesn’t want me to be ‘lonely.’
“I get that and love her for it, but she doesn’t understand that I’m not lonely. Friends are very important to me and I value them greatly. Since I’m lucky to have some good ones, the need for one designated partner hasn’t been an issue,” he says.
Aidan admits such questions were more pressing when he was in his 20s and early 30s. Thankfully, they don’t come as hard and fast anymore.
“But when I see (my parents), I know it’s always on their minds, whether it’s vocalized or not.”
Bella DePaulo, a social scientist, blogger and author of the recent book Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It, is 58 and single by choice.
“We live in a very matrimaniacal society,” says DePaulo, of belladepaulo.com. “Matrimania is the over-the-top hyping of all things having to do with weddings and marriage and coupling.
“During the holidays, this gets ramped up into a frenzied state. Look at all of the women in the television commercials having orgasms over the sight of a little box with a diamond ring in it or a Lexus with a big red bow. The Lexus never comes from their kids or parents or friends. Only sex partners can knock us over with a flash of cash,” she says.
DePaulo points out that singledom is statistically on the rise.
“There are more people living single than ever before; there are more single-person households than households comprised of mom, dad and the kids,” she says. “And (North) Americans now spend more years of their adult lives unmarried than married.”
As such, single people should never feel like the odd man or woman out. Forget what great aunt Margaret has to say after a few swigs of cherry brandy; persistently curious family members should realize that such lines of questioning are intrusive and/or unwelcome and their pressure won’t change a thing.
“I refuse to settle down for the wrong reasons,” says Aidan. “I am and will always be a hopeless romantic and when I finally commit to someone, it will be on my own terms.”
So how can singles politely duck question period?
My friend Christine has a can’t-miss retort. When asked why she’s still single, she sweetly responds with, “Just lucky, I guess.”
DePaulo suggests countering the more tactless personal inquiries with, “When was the last time you had sex?” – clearly making the point that personal lives are exactly that. You can also state you love your single life or request a change of subject.
No true friend or loving family member should ever make you feel uncomfortable for not being in a relationship.
“Live your single life fully, joyfully and unapologetically,” says DePaulo. “During the holiday season and during every other day of your life.”
Sexy Typewriter blogs about her dating failures – online and otherwise – at Sexytypewriter.com.