For some the lack of a significant other during the festive period can be somewhat daunting. It's a time when the spotlight can be shone on your 'status' and the sentimental overtones of the holidays can sometimes make even the happiest of singletons feel a little unsettled. Before meeting my other half I spent the best part of five years navigating the peaks and troughs of single life and know all too well the pain and pleasure of flying solo on special occasions. Here are some of my tips on how I enjoyed, made the most of and kept my sanity/perspective in check at Christmas and many other special occasions.
1) Prepare for the third degree. Preparation is key. You will get asked questions which at time will feel akin to interrogation. More than likely you will surrounded by happy couples and families and people who are at a stage of life where you may want to be but aren't. Mentally and emotionally preparing yourself (see below) is as important as having answers ready to roll of your tongue when your nosy Auntie so and so asks you where your significant other is, or, more insultingly WHY you don't have a significant other. I find an authentic yet closed reply with a dash of humour is the best way of dealing with the Single Spanish Inquisition.
2) It is ok to feel lonely. It is normal to have pangs of loneliness and sadness about a lack of significant other that are exacerbated on 'special' occasions. Accept this and embrace it. After a long period of singledom my loneliness was palpable. There was no avoiding it. But by trusting that I was better off flying solo than settling for a relationship that wasn't quite right I knew I had no choice but to embrace my status and the subsequent emotions. The things we run away from are the things that haunt us. The only way to overcome any demons is to face them and deal with them. Stare your loneliness in the eye. When you allow yourself to truly feel something you can also process it, accept it and let new emotions and energy come your way.
3) Don't be a singleton scrooge. Don't envy others or be bitter about their happiness. I have seen many people do this to their own detriment. I made many mistakes during my stretch of singledom but never had resentment for other people's happiness. No matter what was happening in my love life I was always happy for others. Yes I may have had the odd weep and wonder why me, (or rather why not me?) but I never ever begrudged others their lot in life. Mainly because I stuck to the mantra - different things, happen to different people, at different times. I clung to the belief that things would work out for me at the right time and, most importantly, with the right person.
4) Appearances can be deceptive. Don't judge other people's lives and presume all is well just because they are in a relationship/engaged/married/have kids/celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary or whatever. Yes they found someone to be with and are coupled up but that doesn't mean their relationship or lives are necessarily completely happy - or - as you would want your relationship or life as one half of a couple to be. Despite external appearances there will be some couples you encounter over the holidays who are miserable/break up shortly afterwards or even happy lovebirds who look at you with envy for days long gone. Don't let your viewfinder with a lens of singledom make you myopic that life magically becomes rose tinted when you are coupled up.
5) The grass isn't always greener but just a different shade of green. Single life has plenty of perks that differ for each person. I definitely had a lot of fun times during prolonged periods of singledom that didn't involve endless dating or associated shenanigans but were just simple, innocent pleasures. Buggering off for a girls weekend to attempt to surf. Taking myself on a spa break. Reading in bed all day at the weekend. The list is pretty long. Enjoy all that comes with not having to factor in a significant other whilst you can. For all the joys that come with coupling up there are several compromises to be made and another person's emotions, schedule, stresses etc to think of. It is part and parcel of truly loving someone else and sharing your lives. But when you are single you have the truly exquisite liberty of being able to just think about yourself. I was a big fan of giving several gifts to me, myself and I -and engaging in indulgent, selfish (and at times slobby!) behaviour. Hogging the remote control and the couch, staying in your pyjamas all day, taking yourself on a holiday, buying yourself lavish gifts or giving yourself treats - whatever it is that is your secret single behaviour - enjoy it whilst you can. This doesn't end when you are plus one... but there are undoubtedly fewer opportunities, so seize the moment.
6) Give to others. Five years ago after a big break up I volunteered for the first time with Crisis for Christmas. Due to the teachings of the spiritual practice I had become engaged in I decided it was time to focus less on me and my 'woes' and more on others. It was a life changing experience and became an annual Christmas tradition and has led to me volunteering on a regular basis and working with several different charities. As a result I have experience the purest form of love that I have ever known for people with whom I have no real connection with other than as fellow human beings. Giving to others isn't just about occupying yourself with a good deed - it is truly the greatest gift you will ever give yourself. And I have no doubt that what we give out we ultimately receive back in one form or another.
Wishing you a very happy festive season and your best year yet.