The holidays are approaching, and single people everywhere are likely cringing as they steel themselves for the awkward moments ahead. Holiday gatherings often involve seating charts, seeing people you haven’t seen in some time, a random assortment of games, and who knows what else–many of which can create uncomfortable situations for single folks. While not all single people are like me and would prefer to not be, here’s a few handy-dandy tips that may make holiday gatherings go more smoothly for all involved.
1) First, and perhaps most importantly, being single should not be seen as weird or unusual (even though it may be, particularly in some environments). This can be hard to believe, but it’s true: Single people roam among us. They are not mythical beings like unicorns, though they may be as awesome as unicorns. Being single is fine. Treat it as normal, because it is.
2) The person-you-formerly-knew-as-single may not be single anymore, or they may still be single. If their relationship status has changed, and you’re at the level of relationship with this person that you need to know about it, they’ll let you know. There’s really not a good reason to ask. It can very easily bring up hurt that doesn’t need to be touched on at holiday gatherings. I’ll go out on a limb here and say the same goes for asking people if they’re going to have/are expecting kids. If you need to know, they’ll let you know. (A few specific comments that are better left unsaid to single people can be found here.)
3) Single people may not be able to join in your conversations about house maintenance, the really great B&B you stayed at over the summer, or the new spa with a great couples’ massage that you can’t wait to try. It doesn’t mean those topics have to be completely avoided, just used in moderation. Typically it’s good social protocol to try to include all the people at the table/in your conversation circle/sitting in your living room in the conversation. (Which also means, single people, don’t spend the whole night talking about the string of cool people you’re meeting on Tinder/at the bookstore/in the artisan cheese aisle.)
4) Odd numbers are the new rage. Who needs even numbers to make your seating chart or team game strategy work out perfectly? You definitely don’t! You’re way cooler than that. So don’t huff over having to squeeze a 9th chair around the table or pick games that can only be played in pairs and then squeal over how it works out perfectly “Except for…” While you may be tempted to go to the other extreme and just not invite your single friends in case they might feel awkward, invite them anyway–give them the power to decide whether or not they’ll feel out of place.
5) Just because you know two single people does not mean they’re going to get married. Now, some single people (present company included), aren’t appalled at the idea of being set up with your spouse’s former roommate, but I’d wager most single people are open to this idea only if you actually think the two single people involved have some things in common and could potentially have an at least non-brain-numbingly-boring time on a date. If you don’t know either of the single people very well, it’s likely best to not even bring up the topic. I’ll also take this time to refer back to number 1 and emphasize that being single is fine. Even if it’s not someone’s preferred state, it’s still fine.
Let me wrap up by saying the burden is not all on couples. Fellow single people, I know holiday gatherings can be rough–to be honest, I often let the potential awkwardness rob me of some of the enjoyment I could be having. And that’s not cool either. So lighten up a bit, take in the twinkling lights and Christmas carols, and try to enjoy the people you’re with, even if you’d rather have someone special by your side.
And let’s all have happy holidays.
Til next time…
p.s. What tips would you add?