If it's not so easy for you to simply flip your hair and let all those "Are you seeing someone special?" questions roll off your back during the holiday season, you are not alone. In a recent poll, online dating site Badoo found that 33 percent of the American singles polled admitted feeling enhanced pressure to find a date or significant other during the holiday season.
This statistic was no surprise to me. When I was single (for nearly all of my twenties), I never had a problem with my single self until the weather started getting a little bit colder. There was nothing in particular about fall and winter that made me more desirous of love and marriage than during the summer, but it seemed like romance was the primary thing on everyone else's brain, and it's hard to not let that rub off on you.
So, if the holidays are getting you down because you feel like the world (or maybe just your parents) wants lovers in love, and you, well, aren't, beat those love-crazed fools to the punch with a few tricks from a longtime single pro.
I think one of the worst things about being asked "Are you dating anyone?", and responding with just "no" or "nope!" (if I'm trying to sound super upbeat about it), is that I always walked away feeling like I didn't give the awesomeness of my life justice.
"No, I'm not dating anyone, but I did just get back from a trip from Spain, and it was amazing!" could have been my response on more than one occasion, or "No, I'm not dating anyone, but I have been really busy going out with my friends and babysitting my adorable nieces and nephews." My point is, this question could be an opportunity for you to share a little bit about what does make you tick. Often people are just looking for an easy conversation starter, so following up with what you are up to relieves them from having to search for another one because you shut that down.
Before heading out to Thanksgiving dinner, think about the areas of your life you are proud of, and use the boyfriend question as an opportunity to clue people in.
Ask good questions.
The thing that makes the boyfriend question so terrible is the long awkward pause after you deliver your short response. Chirp, chirp, chirp. This is a failing on your questioner’s part, but nevertheless, you can save yourself from this situation.
It's tempting to punish your questioner by remaining silent, letting them squirm just a little. The kinder thing to do for everyone involved is to return to them with another question (if you don't feel like offering up more information about yourself). The other person's lack of preparation with a follow-up means you can change the subject to whatever you like.
Sometimes, being asked if you are dating anyone is a great opportunity for you to be vulnerable and connect with the person who is asking. Allowing yourself to open up a little bit about your feelings around your relationship status is an opportunity to relate to someone, and you might find that you and this person have more in common than you think.
If meeting a nice guy has been hard or you really don't feel like dating, go ahead and say so. As we discovered from a New Yorker magazine special last week, we might be surprised at how well older generations can relate to single life.
Make the most of it.
OK, somebody went there—they asked if you have a boyfriend, and they couldn't have picked a sorer subject. If that's the case, make the conversation as productive as possible.
I ask single women if they are dating someone all the time. I know it can be annoying to some people, but I just can't help myself. Mostly because I like to keep cute single girls on my radar so I can set them up with my husband's cute single guy friends. This being the case, I am always relieved when a single woman will add, "so if you know any nice guys, let me know!" Give your questioner your email address and let them know you are open to blind dates or group dinner invitations.
Being single doesn't have to be a ball-and-chain during the holiday season. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself, and others, that being happy during the holidays isn't just for the happily coupled.
Photo Credit: Horace and Mae Photography