I’ve been single for 10 years and am secretly dreading seeing my family during the holiday period for these 7 reasons

Having remained single for a decade, I find myself facing a looming dread as the holiday season approaches. The dread isn’t due to the cold winter or the incessant holiday jingles, but rather the upcoming family gatherings.

Every year, without fail, my relationship status becomes the main course at every family meal, served with a side of endless inquiries and unsolicited advice from well-meaning relatives.

But why do I have to justify my single-hood to my family year after year?

Society often burdens singles with expectations and unnecessary pressure, pushing them towards relationships not out of genuine longing but rather societal conformity.

In this piece, I will share 7 specific reasons that make me secretly dread the holiday season as someone who has chosen to remain single for 10 years.

By the end of this article, I hope to illustrate that being single is not a deficiency that needs fixing, just as being in a relationship is not a feat that requires applause.

At the end of the day, our life choices should be based on self-reflection and personal satisfaction, not external pressure or societal norms.

1) The interrogation sessions

This point was a difficult one for me to comprehend.

“Being single is liberating” sprouted from my conviction that my happiness is independent of my relationship status. However, the reality is that this belief is tested at every family gathering.

Let me clarify.

Think about any family gathering. The laughter, the food, the stories all happen organically. The celebration unfolds by itself. Queries about your life pour in naturally. While navigating through these conversations, you find yourself explaining your singlehood countless times.

If you’re going to be single, it’s crucial to accept that you’re not in control of others’ perceptions. You’re living instinctively.

It’s essential to let go of the illusion of control that comes from believing your words can alter their ingrained beliefs. They don’t. Your lifestyle choices do, and they are most impactful when they are made without external influence. When you live instinctively.

2) The unending comparisons

This might seem unexpected, but bear with me.

“Embrace your individuality” has been my mantra navigating through my singlehood. But the truth is, this mantra is put to the test every holiday season.

Let me elaborate.

Imagine any family reunion. The catching up, the shared memories, the comparisons all seem inevitable. The relatives with their partners naturally draw attention. Amidst these interactions, you find yourself inadvertently compared to your married or committed cousins and siblings.

If you’re choosing to stay single, it’s essential to understand that you are not your relationship status. You’re living authentically.

It’s crucial to abandon the belief that you need a significant other to measure up to societal expectations. They don’t define you. Your personal decisions do, and they leave the most profound impact when they reflect your true self. When you live authentically.

As one wise soul puts it:

“Observe your life. Don’t judge it, don’t compare it, don’t try to mold it into something else; don’t do anything at all on your part. You just be an observer, and the magic of observing is self-awareness. As you observe, slowly life becomes free of comparisons; but you are not becoming complacent, you are becoming more alert, more aware.”

When you try to “fit in” all the time, you give too much power to societal norms. You give up your authentic power.

Now, I give less power to comparisons. Sometimes I feel like an outlier. Other times I’m subjected to unsolicited advice. I don’t worry about this anymore.

3) The inevitable pity looks

You might convince yourself that you’re immune to it, but sooner or later, you may find yourself affected by the sympathetic glances your relatives throw your way.

You might even find yourself on the giving end of that pity when comforting a young cousin who’s just experienced their first breakup. Few individuals are strong enough to deflect this kind of sentiment.

Pity often finds its way into discussions around singlehood, but if you willingly put yourself in a position to be pitied, you are setting yourself up for discomfort.

Additionally, it’s crucial to question the role of pity in your life.

Perhaps you and your family members feel sympathetic because they believe that companionship is essential for happiness.

Frequently, we chastise ourselves for feeling affected by pity, as though it’s an emotion we shouldn’t entertain.

Maybe it’s time to confront these feelings. They might be an indication that you’re more affected by societal norms than you thought.

4) The perceived loneliness

I started this discussion by emphasizing personal choices and individuality.

The thing is, personal choices and individuality also influence how we perceive loneliness.

In my case, I tend to immerse myself in my work, hobbies, and friendships. I get engulfed in shaping my life the way I want it to be.

My intentions are genuine. Living independently has the potential to be a fulfilling experience.

But when I get so absorbed, I can unintentionally project an image of loneliness to my family. I can become distant from familial bonding. I appear aloof and probably seem like a person craving companionship.

If I evaluated myself for my intentions, I wouldn’t question this perception.

Instead, since I don’t focus solely on my intentions, I can better reflect on my actions and change how I come across. I am learning to strike a balance and show my family that singlehood doesn’t equate to loneliness.

How you’re perceived is significant, not just the intentions that drive your behavior.

5) The unsolicited matchmaking attempts

Now, this is a personal experience that I’m sure many singles can relate to.

One holiday season, I was introduced to a distant relative’s friend’s daughter. It was evident from the get-go what the intentions were. My Aunt had decided it was her mission to find me a partner, and this lady was her chosen candidate.

Her intentions were pure – she wanted me to be happy. However, she failed to understand that my happiness wasn’t hinged on having a partner. This led to an awkward evening of forced conversation and polite declines.

This experience taught me that despite being single and content, others’ perceptions and actions could disrupt my peace. It’s just another reason I dread the holiday gatherings – the well-meaning but unwelcome matchmaking attempts by relatives who believe they know what’s best for me.

I’ve learned to navigate these situations with grace and humor, asserting my choice to remain single while appreciating their concern for my happiness.

6) The misconception about happiness

Society often holds a deep-seated belief that being in a relationship equates to happiness and contentment. This notion is further reinforced by media, literature, and even our education system, all subtly promoting the idea that partnership is the key to a fulfilled life.

Here’s the key point:

This widely accepted belief prompts us to reflect on our understanding of happiness. Being single or being in a relationship does not dictate happiness. It is subjective and varies from person to person.

For those feeling judged, understanding this misconception can provide a sense of empowerment. It’s a reminder that we are part of a diverse society, where every individual has a different path to happiness and fulfillment.

Knowing this misconception encourages us to see our journey as unique and can provide a sense of self-confidence and independence.

7) The fear of conforming

This may seem a bit perplexing, but the holiday season, with all its pressures and expectations, triggers a latent fear in me – the fear of conforming.

Amid the bustle of family reunions, the endless inquiries, and the constant comparisons, there’s a distinct risk of me losing sight of my choice to remain single. The pressure can subtly push me towards considering companionship, not out of genuine desire, but to blend in with societal norms.

Falling into this conformity trap is not necessarily about giving up my singlehood but more about compromising my authenticity. It’s about letting external factors sway my personal choices.

This fear serves as a reminder to stay true to myself. It reinforces the importance of individuality and personal choices in carving out our unique paths in life. It reminds me that I should not sacrifice my authenticity to meet societal expectations.

So while it may seem counterintuitive, this fear, in its own peculiar way, fortifies my resolve to stay single until I decide otherwise.

Bottom line: It’s about personal fulfillment

The complexities of human choices and behaviors often have profound connections with our sense of self.

One such connection is the relationship between singles and the concept known as eudaimonia.

This concept, prevalent in Greek philosophy, represents a state of flourishing, a deep sense of well-being and fulfillment, often associated with personal growth and self-realization.

For singles like me, eudaimonia might be a key factor in our choice to remain unattached. This state of being could potentially induce a sense of contentment and happiness when we pursue our passions and interests without the constraints of a relationship.

Whether it’s focusing on personal growth, pursuing a demanding career, exploring the world solo, or simply enjoying the tranquility of one’s own company, the underlying pursuit of eudaimonia could be enhancing our experience.

As the philosopher Aristotle once said, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” It’s essential to remember this when facing societal pressures or judgment. Your life choices should ultimately lead you toward your version of fulfillment, regardless of societal norms. So whether you choose to remain single or seek companionship, ensure that your decision aligns with your pursuit of personal happiness and fulfillment.

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Justin Brown

Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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