I did a google search on being single at Christmas and found lots of articles on the topic, many specifically directed at women and focussed on cheering them up about being single at this time of year. I think that says it all really doesn’t it? Single women at Christmas are in need of condolences and commiserations so it seems. Perhaps more accurately though the people writing these posts are aware of the dread being a single woman at Christmas can inspire in many of us and for good reason.
There are a lot of reasons being single at Christmas can be tough for women. We are bombarded with the Christmas love songs (I’m bracing myself now to hear ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham and ‘Stay Now’ by East 17 a million times) and the numerous films and TV shows which use the predictable Christmas romance story line. It’s not often we see women depicted in the media at Christmas as single and genuinely happy. I’m straining to think of a good example. And let’s not forget the romantic tradition of kissing under mistletoe that comes up in the Christmas season. The pressure to partner up at Christmas can be intense. The stories the day after any office Christmas party are often evidence of that. As if all that isn’t enough there are the inevitable questions and judgments from family and friends single women tend to receive about their relationship status. Once we actually get through Christmas we have to face New Year which has a special stigma all of it’s own for the single woman. I can’t count the times I’ve felt the pressure to find a man to kiss as the New Year comes in. The sense of anxiety around being single at Christmas time can also increase dramatically for women with age.
I’m not saying being single at Christmas isn’t ever difficult for men too. In fact I’m sure it is but the stigma of being single at any time of the year is a real issue for women in general. We don’t often get any credit after all, like men do, for living the free and single life let alone enjoying it. We are also still commonly socialised from childhood to strive towards marriage as the ultimate achievement in life and made to feel like failures if this is not our path. Many people still struggle to accept this may not be a woman’s priority or even a goal for her in life at all. Throw in the pressure to hurry up and have children into the mix as well and it’s no wonder some single women really struggle at Christmas. I’ve definitely been there myself in the struggle.
Christmas tends to highlight many people’s loneliness whether they are single or not. While it’s not true, as many people think, that the suicide rate peaks at Christmas it is a fact that people can be more prone to feelings of stress and sadness. At Christmas we can all feel a sense of failure if we are not experiencing happiness, connection and togetherness with others. The truth is anyone can end up feeling a bit weary and fed up. Single ladies are most definitely not alone if they feel down in the dumps but there is no denying that we do face some unique challenges based on gender and relationship status.
While I have no idea how I’ll feel about being 35 and single myself at Christmas this year I like the idea of not of even thinking about men and romantic relationships to be honest. I’m looking forward to enjoying time catching up with my family and friends. It would be really nice to be able to do this without any micro-aggressions about being a single woman or any assumptions that I must be dying to meet a man over the holiday period. I do think we need to see more examples in the media of women being content and comfortable with their single selves at Christmas just to balance things out whether this means happy single women flirting, having sex, or just not thinking about sex and romantic relationships at all. I’ve had enough of the stereotype of the sad and desperate singleton at Christmas. All of this constant pressure that’s put on women to be in relationships just makes women less likely to enjoy the blessing that being single at any time of year can be. As I get older I find the opinions of others about my romantic status less important thankfully so I’m facing the Christmas season with positivity.
For anyone reading this who is feeling nervous about being single at Christmas, whether male or female, I’d say enjoy doing whatever the hell you want to and define Christmas on your own terms! If you are not happy being single make the most of Christmas time socialising to meet someone and/or set yourself a new year’s resolution to meet a partner next year. Until then indulge in having a great single Christmas while you can. It may be your last for all you know. You may be looking back in the future and wishing you’d made more of it.