10 Reasons Being Single During The Holidays Feels Hard (+ Why It Actually Rocks)

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being single during the holidays
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The holidays tend to be a pretty polarizing time. You either love them or you hate them.

For so many, there's the pressure of family get-togethers, big meals, and even bigger gifts. For others, it's a magical time with snowglobes and an extra reason to spend time with your favorite people.

I tend to swing between the two ends.

On the one hand, I love Thanksgiving and Christmas. We spend it with one of my best friends and her family, and no matter what we do we end up laughing until we cry; we also eat so much good food that stretchy pants are now a mandatory requirement.

On the other hand, the holidays throw into sharp focus the fact that I’m alone because I'm stuck being single

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Every year I try very hard not to let that overshadow all the good, but there are reasons to feel bitter when you're single during the holidays that are always still there.

10 Reasons Being Single During The Holidays Is Hard (And The Upside Of Each)

1. You get asked to work the shifts no one else wants at work.

Something happens all year long when you're single, but especially ramps up during the holidays: getting the shifts nobody wants.

Being single seems to automatically nominate me for getting the late-night/holiday shifts that nobody wants. And while the intention may not be anything other than to spend time with their family, it sends the message that because I don’t have a partner waiting at home, my time is less valuable.

The upside: Sure it sucks that people think your time is less valuable, but when you work the holiday shifts most companies pay you time and a half which can really stack up.

So while other people are shelling out hundreds of dollars on Christmas gifts for their special someone, you'll be making bank.

2. People expect you to bring a guest to their holiday parties

Oh, the dreaded company holiday party where you’re expected to show up with a significant other. For me, this usually leaves two options.

Option one: I bring some dude I barely know, which leads to lots of awkward "how did you meet?" and "how long have you known each other?" questions. Option two: I go alone and endure the questions about how many children I have, who I’m dating, and watch the questioner’s face fall when I joke about my cat being my kid.

The upside: Holiday parties are for everyone to get together and be thankful for each other. If you are at a company holiday party there's bound to be some loose lips dropping gossip which is always fun to listen in on. You may just find out some interesting things about your coworkers. You'll always leave with memories of the night that may make going to work a lot more fun.

3. New Year’s Eve seems to revolve around couples.

I’ll be upfront about this: I hate New Year’s. I’ve never had a good one, mostly my own fault. I know New Year's Eve is a time for resolutions and a look back, but all it does for me is show me all the things I didn’t do, all the things that I should have accomplished by this age and haven’t.

It shows me how very much I’m not in a relationship. Again. Still. Also, the pressure to make fun New Year's Eve plans is near overwhelming.

The upside: New Year's is a time of reflection not of self-hatred. If you didn't get up to doing something this year, do it next year or five years from now. Who said you have be married with kids before 30?

Use New Year's Eve as a night to figure out what it is you really want and instead of mopping about it, go get it. The world is your oyster.

4. The dreaded expectation of a New Year’s Eve kiss.

Let’s say I do manage to make plans. Now there’s the dreaded New Year’s Eve kiss to worry about. Because, as history has proven, it leaves me standing alone, usually just this side of sad-drunk pretending that this new year will be the best! year! ever! while everyone around me swaps spit.

The upside: You don't have to force yourself to kiss your partner who's been drinking and eating who knows what all night. Or you can still have a magical moment with a complete stranger. You never know who that stranger can turn into.

5. Your family grills you about your dating life.

There is a look that loved ones have for the over (or nearing) 30-year-old single people in their life. Pity tinged with exasperation with a hint of “Still single? At this age?”

While I would love nothing more than to share my life (and the holiday season) with someone, yet another year rolls around where it’s not in the cards for me.

The upside: At least you have family who cares about what you are doing with your life. Be thankful you have a family when there are many out there who have no one.

If it truly hurts you when they grill you about who you are dating, let them know it's personal and you don't feel like chatting about it. Talk to them about your work, or hobbies you like.

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6. Holiday-time first dates feel extra pressured.

Have you ever tried dating around the holidays? It sucks. All the merriment and focus on couples in love during the holiday season just adds an extra layer of pressure to first dates.

And for the newly dating, the "do we/don’t we" gift exchange dilemma seems like a no-win situation. Get a gift too early and you can seem over-eager; no gift and you’re Scrooge.

The upside: Dating during the holidays can actually bring out the romance in people. If you have dates leading up to the holidays, you may have some of the best, romantic dates of your life. Have an open mind.

7. Mistletoe exists.

Very little paints a sadder picture than single me standing under the mistletoe waiting for a kiss that won’t be coming. Or, a pity kiss from friends, which is why I avoid mistletoe like it’s poison ivy. You won’t find me lingering under that little berry.

The upside: Mistletoe is more of a game than any serious concept. The idea is of stolen kisses. The tradition is used for laughs, so laugh with them if you get stuck under it.

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Don't take everything so seriously. You're at holiday parties to be with people and have fun.

8. Holiday cards serve as a constant reminder you are alone.

I’ve always struggled with sending cards out as a single person. On the one hand, I like it. I love stationary and I love sending out mail in general. On the other hand, no one wants to be that crazy, single lady signing her cards from her and Mr. Fluffers, the cat.

Either way, it’s bittersweet as cards roll in from family and friends and I see their coupledom and happiness plastered on the front of every card. Yet another reminder of a solo holiday season gone by.

The upside: Holiday cards remind you of how much you are loved and thought of at such a special time of the year. Instead of focusing on what you don't have focus on the wonderful cards you are receiving from those who love you.

9. Sitting at the kids' table is the worst.

No room at the adult table during all those family get-togethers? No worries, we’ll just shove the single girl at the kids’ table. She won’t mind, right? It’s not like she has a significant other to sit next to anyway.

The upside: The kid's table is where the fun really is at holiday parties. There's no stress when you sit with the kids. They are also chatterboxes. They'll talk about anything and everything.

You can talk about conspiracy theories or video games instead of politics and the economy. Sitting at the kid's table is like dodging a bullet.

10. Waking up alone on Christmas morning.

Christmas morning has its own special feel and there's something very lonely about waking up to an empty bed. I spend Christmas Eve at my parents' house. In the morning, we all slowly wake up, and once everyone has made it downstairs and has had an appropriate amount of caffeine to ensure a pleasant mood, we start opening gifts.

I love our lazy mornings. But for those first few moments, after I've woken up, I can't help but wish I was sharing that quiet, special Christmas morning stillness with someone.

The upside: Being alone on Christmas morning doesn't always have to feel lonely. You don't have to wake up to gross snoring or screaming children. You can sleep in as long as you like.

This is a morning you get to celebrate with yourself what Christmas really means to you. When you're ready, you can go do your Christmas plans with family and friends. But that quiet Christmas morning is for you and you alone. it's a breath of fresh air before the chaos of Christmas begins.

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Shireen Dadkhah is a freelance writer and photographer who writes about depression, relationships, and photography.