If you’re like most Americans you’ve got a family gathering or two you’re expected to attend around holiday time. For many of you this can be a daunting, stress evoking, prospect. The thought of exposing yourself to the well meaning (or not) questions about your dating life and your continued single status from relatives you may or may not see on a regular basis is enough to unleash a horde of butterflies in the pit of your stomach and prevent you from getting your much needed beauty sleep.
All you want to do is enjoy the food, catch up on the latest family news, and enjoy a loving and non threatening environment. You just don’t need Aunt Sylvia reminding you of your age and remaining childbearing years, or cousin Leon reprimanding you for not wanting to go out with his twice divorced, chain smoking, alcoholic business partner. You don’t want advice, suggestions, or sympathy. You just want to be treated like everyone else. But that’s probably just not going to happen…because your single.
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So how do you deal with that upcoming holiday reunion without smacking Aunt Sylvia, getting back on Prozac, or joining the witness protection program?
Here are 3 possible ways of dealing with nosy relatives at holiday time (or whenever):
1. Turn the Tables
When your Aunt Sylvia makes her case for your Old Maidhood, instead of silently accepting or violently responding, ask her for help. I know this sounds stupid, but hear me out. Most people who question and critique are not really looking for an opportunity to get materially involved. They just want to get in a quick jab and then to move on. If you demand that they get involved with your life and practically help you “cure” your single status, they’ll be totally caught off guard and unprepared. It’s easy to criticize and walk away, but taking an active role in solving a problem is another matter. Most people will shutup and run. And if they actually agree to help, well maybe they can?
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2. Field and Deflect
Instead of taking Aunt Sylvia’s comment to heart of getting upset or defensive, just gracefully accept it with a light laugh as you smoothly change the subject. Remember, nothing she can say can have any effect on you unless you let it. By getting upset your really giving her control over your emotions. Don’t. Take her comment in stride and gently push it to the side. She might get upset, but that’s her problem, not yours.
3. Find an Alternative
I really hate to give this last suggestion because I believe that family gatherings are important to be a part of. But there’s something even more important: your sanity. If you absolutely don’t think that you can handle the questions and comments and your single status, then just don’t go. Say your sick, and find some other friends in the same situation and have dinner with them. It probably won’t be a total lie, based on your feelings of nausea when you think of going. It’s a drastic step to take, because your Mom really wants to see you, but if it’s what you need to know to stay in balance, then you must do it. Take a pass. You’ll still be part of the family, and probably part of the conversation. (Of course, if not attending is going to make you feel even worse, then just go and tough it out.)
Do you have any suggestions to share about how to deal with nosy relatives at holiday time? Please share in the comments.