It's almost Halloween, which means that Thanksgiving and Christmas are basically tomorrow. Because the holiday season is upon us, it's time to mentally prepare for those messy semi-annual family get-togethers. At some point or another, almost everyone has experienced the frustration of being single during the holidays — and dealt with all the awkward questions that come along with it. Unless you happen to have a significant other to parade around at your family parties, chances are you'll be stuck either reliving your most recent breakup to a dozen great-aunts in a row, or explaining to Grandpa that no, you haven't been murdered by an online date yet.
According to a new survey of 1,000 people by Badoo, the world's largest dating platform, 33 percent of American singles said they feel enhanced pressure to find a date or significant other during the holiday season. To be fair, this feeling is pretty easy to relate to: who wouldn't want to have a partner by their side while they tackle family parties and other holiday-centric events? There's also the awesome satisfaction of showing your partner off to your friends and family, and having him or her get closer to the people you love. And the most obvious benefit: Not having to answer annoying questions about your dating life on a constant loop.
That being said, there's no need to get super stressed if you happen to be single at the end of the year. There are actually a lot of benefits of being single during the holidays, and you shouldn't be afraid to politely shut down any incessant romance-oriented questioning that pops up. If a good old-fashioned shutdown isn't your cup of tea, here's another guaranteed winning move: changing the damn subject.
After politics/anything to do with the 2016 Presidential election, your love life is the least desirable conversation topic at any family event. No one wants to hear their third-cousin vilifying online dating for the millionth time — it's 2016 and everyone is on Tinder, so get off your high horse, Mark. If the awkward romance talk starts to bubble to the surface, here are nine things to bring up instead, to deflect the attention from your love life and refocus it on areas where you're totally kicking ass.
1. Your Career
Duh — your career should absolutely be something you brag about to your relatives during the holiday season. Your professional accomplishments are super important (almost definitely moreso than your love life), and you shouldn't feel weird about mentioning a raise or promotion you've recently received. Impress your fam with tales of how you saved the day at the office, and they'll forget all about your lack of lover.
2. Your Hobbies
Whether you just picked up jiu jitsu or you've been an avid scarf-knitter for years, it can be fun to discuss your favorite leisure activities with family, because they probably don't have any clue what you do in your day-to-day life. Give them a live demo of something you love to do or teach them a new skill — it's guaranteed to be easier than explaining why you're "still single."
3. Your Fitness Goals
It might seem weird to talk about something like health while everyone is eating their fourth bowl of mashed potatoes, but there's a first time for everything. Your fam might be bored if you give them a blow-by-blow account of your spinning class but if exercising is a hobby of yours that brings you happiness and pride, there's no reason you can't brag a little about some recent fitness goals you've reached, like shaving a minute off your mile time or trying a Pure Barre class.
4. Your Friends
It might not be a good idea to regale your grandma with stories of your latest bar crawl, but that doesn't mean your relatives wouldn't appreciate the feeling of being in the loop when it comes to your social life. Tell an anecdote about a friend they met once years ago (they'll definitely remember), or fill them in on (semi-appropriate) friend drama. Your family will feel included, which is what the holidays is really all about, right?
5. Your Next Big Project
Redecorating your apartment? Learning a language? Whatever it is that you're working on, use it as conversation fodder. If you're passionate about something, it shows, and people will be eager to hear you talk more about it (leaving the relationship talk far behind). And if you don't have a project you're working on, consider this a friendly suggestion to find one in plenty of time for the holidays.
6. Pop Culture
Though current events relating to politics can be dicey to discuss, there's relative safety in talking about stuff like the new Harry Potter movie or the Gilmore Girls revival. (Unless you have a rare, outspoken member of #TeamDean in your family, that is.)
I have to admit, this is maybe the last thing you'd ever catch me chatting about, but I know I am far outside the norm. People love sports, and you probably do too. Ask your uncle how his favorite team is doing (but maybe don't insult his favorite player) and watch as the conversation rapidly moves away from your love life and into an hour-long tirade about the outcome of the World Series.
8. Your Pets
Who needs a significant other when you have fur children to show off instead? If someone inquires about your dating life, just say, "I don't have much time to date because I'm so busy caring for my super cute pets instead." Then whip out your Instagram and distract them with dozens of videos of your cat licking itself.
9. Your Plans For Next Year
When the New Year approaches, everyone is optimistic that next year will be the best year. If you have any New Year's resolutions that you're excited to fulfill (like taking a fun vacation), bring those up as talking points and ask your family their plans, too. It's a way to look like you have all your sh*t together — because you're planning for the future like an adult! — while also veering away from any hint of your love life.
Whether you're single or taken, the holiday season is bound to bring up questions about your romantic endeavors, but you shouldn't have to live in fear. What it boils down to is simple: Holiday small talk is all about the art of deflection, and perfecting ability to subtly emphasize that your love life isn't the only thing worth talking about.
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