It's the season for mulled wine, mince pies, and nosy distant aunts and uncles asking how your love life is going. It’s hard enough to explain the ups and downs of dating to your close friends, let alone relatives you only see once a year. However, there are ways to get around the awkward “when are you getting married?” queries. Here’s how to handle relationship questions during the holidays, according to an expert. Sometime’s brushing off questions about your love life is easy but with numerous family get togethers and everyone's minds on merriment and love Christmas can be particularly tough.
While you might not be used to having to mentally and physically prepare for family get togethers eharmony’s resident relationship expert Dr. Seth Meyers explains this may be your key to success. He says, “a good life rule is to remember that the cause of anxiety is often being caught off guard, so shifting mental strategies and preparing yourself for potentially uncomfortable interactions is crucial. The primary goal at family events should be to avoid conflict.” Employing your usual stress relief strategies, like working out or having positive mantras to repeat in your head when things get a little bit much will keep you in a good headspace. Meyers suggests, “the following mantra will soothe you and the self-praise reinforces a sense of self-control and confidence: This event won’t last forever, and I’m proud of myself for being a team player and always showing up.”
Making jokes about your relationship or lack of is another way to skirt around nosy questions. While it’s sweet that your family want to know about your life a joke will almost certainly go down better than a long-winded explanation of your failed online dates. Meyers says, “there's a crucial difference between questions that feel nosy and questions that feel critical or judgmental. Questions about your personal or love life may be annoying but, in most cases, they reflect the intention to connect with you. On the other hand, some questions can feel critical or even rude. When asked standard, open-ended questions about your personal or love life, give the other person the benefit of the doubt and trust that the other person's intention is benign.”
However, if things get a little too personal you shouldn’t feel like an exhibition at the dinner table. “The safest options for coping with intrusive questions is pausing and not responding directly or excusing yourself for a quick task or bathroom break which buys you time to plan how to respond in a diplomatic, non-confrontational way,” says Meyers, “while it’s sometimes legitimate and appropriate to confront intrusive behaviour head-on, the holiday season is typically a time when everyone should focus on keeping the peace and avoid conflicts.”
Trying to remain bright and breezy in the face of a thousand questions about why you’re single is easier said than done. Having some pre-prepared answers to your relatives queries will make moving conversations along a much smoother process. Meyers suggests, saying something like: “There’s no one serious at the moment, but I’ll let you know when that changes" or "I’m single now, but holiday parties are more fun when we keep it light, so let’s talk about something more fun.” By keeping your answer positive but firm will ensure you’ll be able to enjoy your turkey in peace.
“The holiday season is stressful enough with financial, familial and social demands that no one needs one additional stressor” says Meyers and while your relatives may ask you about your love life as a way to ask about your life more generally, you shouldn’t feel obliged to explain yourself. Keeping a cool head, preparing some vague answers, and trying to remain as positive as you can, could be the key to getting through Christmas unscathed.