We, single people, have superpowers to sleuth around unnoticed for most months but, wow, do December and January ever make it tough to be low-key single. Every other day my Facebook newsfeed is decorated with yet another goddamned enchanting engagement story. A best friend from college said “yes” while hiking impossibly beautiful Chilean fjords. My favorite bartender now rocks an insane-o rock that’s almost older than the city of Atlanta. Meanwhile, I lean over the sink chugging flat Champagne solo to prep for another white elephant party during which I’ll probably score a box of wine and a whole lot more smug sighs from coupled pals about arriving dateless—for yet another year.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or whatever.
Except not so fast. Seriously, though, approaching this holiday season single doesn’t have to suck. It can be an opportunity to reflect on your own personal accomplishments. It can also be a time to turn the focus back on others (weird!) and absorb new dispatches from outside of Planet Single Person. We spoke with psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Justin D’Arienzo about how to develop your own roadmap through the next two months, self-appraisal, and the powerful study tool of social media.
Say you’re in your late 20s or 30s catching up with old friends from high school. Everyone’s engaged or married, and you’re not even seeing anyone. How do you navigate questions about your relationship status?
More people get engaged over [December and January]. It’s a time where people take stock in themselves and, of course, they not only evaluate themselves but they evaluate other people at that time. As humans, we do compare ourselves to other people. If somebody is single and maybe a relationship ended, certainly that is an anxious time to explain why you're still single and everybody else is getting married and possibly having kids. But probably the most important thing is to prepare yourself and to be confident. Because if you're confident in whatever your response is, then other people take that as that things are okay. But when you're anxious about your response, certainly people will make other judgments.
What I would be suggesting to people if they're anxious about it is to do lots of research and check on everybody's Instagrams and talk to other friends and find out what's been going on in other people's lives so you're prepared with lots of questions so you can turn it around and put it on them. Make the focus them, and they will come away with thinking that you're such an amazing listener, and just, "Wow, they're so generous with their time and thoughtful.” Who knows if they'll potentially return the favor and hook you up with someone, thinking you're so great after that experience.
How do you boost up your own confidence and make that confidence clear?
What I would do is do a self-appraisal about your year and just list some of the exciting things that you have done or some accomplishments. Try to come up with a couple stories about those things as well as think about what your plans are for the future—for the future year—and be ready to talk about those. When we're excited about things and we have great ideas and we're passionate about them, it certainly comes across and that will distract the other person from saying that we're single. That will also distract us from knowing that we're still single.
What kind of advice would you give a single person who’s going to a holiday party? Especially if said holiday party will have a lot of couples in attendance.
You know, that makes me think back to my days when I was that single guy. First of all, [I’d like] to remind people that most people do not end up single—they end up being married. You certainly want to have that understanding, so you don't want to miss out. You want to make sure that you don't miss out on these great opportunities and fun that you will have [as a single person] with your friends even if they're married.
Rather than being gloomy about being single, have a real positive attitude. Married people know people that are single and wanting to be married and they will connect you with potential partners—if you have a good attitude and have a good time. Again, a lot of it is about your confidence and to appear that you're happy being single and happy having a relationship with yourself, so to speak, and then they're more likely to connect you with other people.
Remember, though, the goal shouldn't just be to hook up with somebody and get married. Have fun on your own. When you're single, you still have so much time to do so many things and the focus can still be you, so you might as well enjoy that time.