“You do know there are services for people like you?” my mother casually asked.
“Excuse me?” I quizzed.
“You know, on the internet. You can meet people.”
As the penny dropped, my cheeks flushed.
“Mum!” I exclaimed. “For goodness sake!”
At 29, and single at Christmas for the umpteenth year, I knew the customary awkward questions (‘So have you had any dates this year?’) as much as I could guarantee the lumps in Mum’s gravy. But this was a record – my parents had only just picked me up from the train station. First time they’d seen me in six months, we’d been in the car less than 10 minutes…
“It’s OK, there’s no shame in it these days, you can find whoever you want on there,” Mum breezily explained. “Why don’t you go out with a lawyer or a banker?”
Of course there’s no shame in internet dating – thanks Mum! “That’s not why I’m shocked,” I started to explain. But, what was the point?
Reach a certain age, and if you’re not happily co-habiting/engaged/married or romantically-active in some form or other, then it’s going to be an issue – and never more so than at Christmas.
After all, the festive season was made for couples – or so it can bloomin’ seem…
First, the adverts start on TV, which appear to have two aims: to compel smug couples to buy stuff for each other, and to make single folk cry. That’s right – Labradors and children are very cute when they’re frolicking in the snow or hanging up their stockings in the wonderful living room of their wonderful home – better get my skates on and find a boyfriend eh, or might be too late for me! And no – there isn’t an adorably-clueless man making a last-minute dash around the jewellery department for me – thanks for the reminder!
The ads depicting singles are even worse. A far-too-calm supermodel gets spruced up for a night out, then glides out of a taxi into a party where some handsome stranger, mistletoe at the ready, instantly clocks her and winks suggestively.
What the hell’s that all about!? Some sort of in-joke I’m missing? Everybody knows the line between being romantically-hopeful and downright desperate is never so fine as during the festive season. If you do get lucky, it probably means you ended up snogging the idiot from IT at your work party, but more likely you go home alone feeling even more HOPELESSLY UN-LOVED than ever.
More importantly, who has the money for all these new sparkly party frocks? I’m lucky if I can afford a mince pie by the time I’ve bought presents for everybody else’s kids and partners.
It’s fine. I actually quite enjoy watching my little sister and her husband exchange their never-ending stack of gifts on Christmas morning. Sure. And after a few mulled wines, facing Aunt Batty’s interrogation at lunch about my worrying lack of suitors will be a walk in the park.
I’ve more pressing matters to focus on – like getting through the evening of movies without starting to sob and wail – “I know how Rudolph feels, an outcast, WAHHHH!”
But, when tensions with in-laws start rising, or the kids start bickering, I’ll savour my moment of smugness and sneak off and leave them to it. (Come on, let me have this one!)
SINGLES’ SEASONAL SURVIVAL GUIDE
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
It’s easy to think the grass is always greener, but Christmas can be stressful for couples too. At least you don’t have to worry about pleasing two sets of in-laws for the time-being! Make the most of this and embrace the chance to do things all on your terms.
GIVE MISTLETOE A MISS
Who doesn’t want a cheeky kiss at Christmas? But if you’ve been single for a while the pressure to find romance can be immense at this time of year, which can leave you more deflated than ever if things don’t work out. Make the choice to forget about love this year and just enjoy yourself and spending time with family and friends.
No special someone to exchange gifts with? Heck – by yourself that necklace, perfume or those gorgeous shoes. Think of all the money you’ve saved by not having to buy presents for your other half.
IN GOOD COMPANY
It may feel like it, but you are not the only person who’s single at Christmas. Make plans to catch up with a fellow singleton and go on a ‘date’ to watch that new movie together. If all your friends are loved-up, why not check out clubs and social groups in your area or look at volunteering opportunities. Anything’s better than moping alone and it could be really rewarding.
If you’re already dreading having to explain why you’re still single, or reassure ‘concerned’ relatives that you’re fine, just prepare a breezy response then laugh it off and forget about it.
Rather than feeling miserable about the things you don’t have, focus on what you could have – all because you’re single! This freedom won’t last forever, so make a list of things you’d love to do in 2013, whether that’s visiting tea shops on the coast, learning a language or travelling – absolutely anything.