Being Single Doesn't Mean "Unhappy" During the Holidays

BlogHer Original Post

Here's what I think about the ability of a single woman to be happy during the holidays -- it doesn't matter if you're single. I believe that your relationship status has no bearing on whether or not you'll be in good spirits. If you're going to be happy this holiday season, you'll be that way regardless of whether you're in a relationship, and vice versa with people who are unhappy.

Now, of course, I'm saying all this in general. If you've just ended a long-term relationship, or if you continuously dream about snuggling with a warm body in front of dancing Christmas tree lights -- sure, you might rue the fact that you're single and place the blame there for your negative spirits. But being part of a couple certainly doesn't give you an automatic one-way ticket to Happy Land.

I've had my share of high and low periods just like anyone else, so I feel like I can say all this from first-hand experience. I realize that everyone is different, and I know certain times of the year tend to affect some people more than others, but look at it this way: someone who's "attached" is just as likely to have an unhappy holiday season as someone who is single. Maybe they're even more likely to be unhappy, due in part to stress levels and familial expectations.

And think about this: if you have a partner, you automatically have more people to buy presents for. It could be just that person (if it's a new relationship), but if you're married, or you've been together for a long time, you probably have in-laws (or future in-laws) to consider. You have to attend your partner's holiday work party in addition to your own; you have to visit their side of the family when maybe you'd prefer to be with your own family.

If you're single, YOU get to decide who you're buying presents for. YOU get to decide which party invitations to accept. YOU can choose to spend the days surrounding Christmas with family, or you can go to a warm, tropical locale instead (apparently this is an increasingly popular option).

I've never minded spending holidays with my family as a single female, because my family doesn't ask silly questions like "When are you going to get yourself a boyfriend?" They could really care less about my relationship status as long as I'm happy, and they'd much prefer I remain single than get into a relationship that isn't right for me. (Who can blame them?)

One thing that can tend to fall to the wayside when you're living on your own as a single woman -- at least as a young single woman -- is putting forth the effort to be in the "holiday spirit," at least when it comes to things like Christmas trees and house/apartment decorations. This has certainly been the case for me. If you live in a small apartment, or if you move frequently, who has enough space to store fake trees and breakable ornaments? Who has room to save those festive wreaths that you only bring out for a few weeks a year? I certainly don't have that kind of extra space, but I do look forward to visiting other people and seeing what they've put on display.

I think it's easier for me to have a casual approach to Christmas because I don't let myself get (too) stressed out with holiday shopping, and I don't put undue expectations on myself -- like thinking I should be happier during the holiday season than I am at other times of year. (I mean, if you think you should be happy just because it's a certain time of year, and you aren't as happy as you want to be...that's just going to make things worse, right?)

Susan Dunn gives "9 Myths About Being Single at Christmas."

Myth: The only happy way to spend the holidays is if you are a couple or part of a family.

Reality: If that were so, half the articles on the Internet this time of year wouldn't be about how to cope with the annual holiday dinner with the relatives, and the divorce rate in the US wouldn't be 50%.

Smarter Princess recently broke up with her boyfriend of two years. She doesn't usually doesn't like it when stores prepare for Christmas too early, but she found comfort in it this year.

I know it seems like an unlikely place to find support or happiness, but Halloween ended last week and that means that the shelves are now beginning to be filled with Christmas. Usually I get pissed off when stores get ready for Christmas too early, but today I needed a little bit of Holiday spirit. And so I spent an hour before work roaming the isles, spraying room fragrances called “Sugar Plum” and “Christmas Tree” and twisting the knobs of every snow globe that played Jingle Bells and Holly Jolly Christmas. And I let myself get lost in the wrapping paper and all of the lights and a particularly wonderful animated light up moose that I’ve decided I will buy with my next pay check.

On my way out I bought my very first Starbucks Peppermint Mocha of the season, complete in the red holiday cup that always reminds me that it really is Christmas time, and I said to myself “Ok, I can get through this. I can do this.” And as stupid as it is, I know I’m going to be okay. Even if it takes baking hundreds of Christmas cookies and many, many visits to the Macy’s Santa Claus and the occasional 400-calorie treat from Starbucks.

Jemima Bean is a single mother and this Christmas season is the 10th year she's been unattached.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I love everything about it. The tree, the music, buying and making special gifts, the baking, the old movies. I love it. So it didn't take me long to get over the dread.

But it is a lonely time of year for a single person. The kids & I go and do lots of things during the season where we're surrounded by family "units". I've never let my fear of being the only single mom in the crowd stop us from enjoying all of the fun and splendor of the season.

Related links:

If you're feeling down: Mata and Amanda, two of my fellow BlogHer contributing editors, have written some insightful pieces about ways to cope during the holiday season.

Here's information on Seasonal Affective Disorder from the Mayo Clinic.

Some advice for parents when their young adult children come home for the holidays.

(Contributing editor Zandria has been posting every day for NaBloPoMo, and will soon be moving her happy self into a new apartment devoid of any Christmas decorations. You can find her at Keep Up With Me.)

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