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Navigating the Holidays as an Uncoupled person

Nov 23, 2022 | Holidays, Relationships

  • The holidays can be a challenging time for uncoupled people to navigate, both those who are recently out of a relationship and those who are used to it. Between family, gifting, and finances, there are many potential triggers for strong feelings.
  • Below are some questions to ask yourself as you go into the holiday season to identify where you might have vulnerable moments.
  • This time of year is ultimately about love and gratitude. Work to acknowledge potential challenges without letting them become the foundation of the holiday season. Still make time to celebrate yourself and your life.

Whether you’re recently single, intentionally committed to focusing on yourself, or entering “yet another” holiday season as an uncoupled person, the holidays can feel like a challenging time to navigate. Generally, it can be frustrating to navigate society’s expectations of your relationship status; under the microscope of near and extended family, it can become a potentially stressful situation. Despite what society or your family members have to say about it, being single is not synonymous to failure and is not a reflection of your value or quality of human existence. Being single can be as much of a choice as being coupled is, and the bottom line is: you don’t have to explain your uncoupled status if you don’t want to.

Oftentimes, it can feel as if people are expected to exist in only two modes: being ready/or not to date. We are socially conditioned to be either intentionally not looking/in a relationship or actively looking/seeking partnership. This binary is socially constructed, and it is 1000% okay to exist somewhere in between or completely outside of it.

Regardless of how valid being uncoupled is, it can still feel tricky around the holidays. Below are some questions and opportunities for reflection to guide you through the season:

  • Reflect on what the holiday season means to you. Identify a memory from a really fun and enjoyable holiday. Try to create a picture of it in your head. Carry these characteristics and memories with you through the season. If/when you begin to feel overwhelmed, find a quiet place and revisit that picture in your mind.
  • Ask yourself: What are the freedoms, choices, experiences that I get to have as someone who is “planning for one” this holiday season?
  • It might be helpful to have a practiced response to inquiring family members curious about your relationship status. Brainstorm some empowering answers to the questions “Why are you still single?”; “Are you bringing anyone home this year?”; “Where is that person from a few years ago?” Utilize I-statements (ex: I am choosing to…I am taking my own time…I know that…), speak from a place of truth, and don’t feel you have to be any place that you’re not.
  • Who is supporting you this holiday season and how are they supporting you? Consider friendships, colleagues, pets, family members. Acknowledge your circle of support. Don’t forget to acknowledge all that you do for yourself to support yourself too.
  • What are the parts of the holiday season that you are looking forward to? Add these excited anticipations into whatever other expectations you have going into the holidays.

Let these questions be a place to start rather than a step-by-step guide to navigating the holidays. Trust yourself and the knowledge that you have about your relationship and partner(s) and let that steer these reflections and conversations.

Dr. Anton Babushkin

Author: Anton Babushkin, PhD

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