Busted Halo

Most dating and relationships books, columns and shows won’t go near issues of faith. Author, professor and speaker Dr. Christine B. Whelan assumes faith has some role, and tackles even the toughest questions.

Click this banner to see the entire section.

December 19th, 2008

Single for the Holidays

How to handle those pesky relationship questions this season


‘Tis the season for Christmas parties, family gatherings … and pesky (but well-meaning) friends and relatives asking you when you’re going to get married. Yep. While we enjoy the anticipation of Advent and look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ, for many young adults this is also a season of waiting — with more than a bit of dread — for the family inquisition into your love life.

Maybe it’s just an innocent comment from your great-aunt: “So, dear, any special someones in your life?” Or perhaps your family is more direct, with relatives tsk-tsking about how “you’re not getting any younger” when you say that “the one” hasn’t materialized since last Christmas.

Or perhaps your family is more like mine and goes straight for the jugular: My grandmother — a wonderful woman who always spoke her mind — politely listened to the news of my Ph.D. and then grabbed my left hand, made a dismissing little sniff noise, dropped my hand, and looked at me and said “That’s all fine and good, but where’s the ring?”

Later marriage has it’s benefits: You’ve got more time to pursue your educational and career dreams, to climb the ranks, to run that marathon, to have fun with your friends. But it also means a lot of questions from well-intentioned relatives, colleagues and friends — especially around the holidays.

Like my grandmother, most of them sincerely want you to be happy. And they know you would like to meet someone to share your life with — so they are trying to be supportive, but often it comes out all wrong.

“Did you meet anyone interesting last night?” asks your Mom after your work holiday party.

“Are you seeing anyone special?” asks your aunt at Christmas dinner, after glancing at your left hand.

“You work so hard, do you even have time for a relationship?” asks your nosy coworker after a bit too much punch.

“You guys have been dating for a while. Is he the one?” asks your married friend at her swank New Year’s soirée.

If you’re single this holiday season, here’s a bit of advice: Prepare yourself for the questions — and learn a few stock answers that will help you deal with those nosy (but loving) family members and friends.

If you’re not single this holiday season, glance at the below list of questions, too — and make sure you don’t fall into the trap of making your single friends feel awkward during a time of love and celebration.

The Curious Mom

She asks: “Did you meet anyone interesting last night?”

Strategy: Purposely misinterpret. This is a silly (but common) question.

You say: “Yes! I met this fascinating entrepreneur. She’s starting a women-only business in town…”

My grandmother politely listened to the news of my Ph.D. and then grabbed my left hand, made a dismissing little sniff noise, dropped my hand, and looked at me and said “That’s all fine and good, but where’s the ring?”

The Christmas Interrogator

They ask: “Are you seeing anyone special?”

Strategy: Keep it light. This isn’t the time to be snarky; you just want to get through this and eat your mashed potatoes.

You say: “There are a few possibilities, but don’t worry, nothing too serious. You know I’d let you get a good look at them first to make sure they were good enough for me! Could you please pass the cranberry sauce?”

The Well-Meaning Relative

They ask: “Did you meet anyone interesting last night? I just worry because you’re not so young anymore…”

Strategy: Attack this head-on. There’s been a generational shift.

You say: “Did you know that the average age of marriage for a woman like me is 30? That’s the average, so there are plenty of men/women getting married a lot older than that, too. And I’m more likely to get married because of my career and educational background. It’s really good news…”

The Married Friend

They ask: “You guys have been dating for a while. Is s/he the one?”

Strategy: Be honest, but kind. She’s only asking because she cares about you, and she doesn’t realize that’s she’s subtly pressing you.

You say: “We’re still getting to know each other. And, it’s interesting, my family keeps asking me that question, too. I know that they don’t want me to make a bad decision because I felt pressured, but I do feel like everyone is trying to marry us off. I’m trying not to rush things.”

The Nosy Coworker at The Holiday Party

They ask: “You’re always at the office! Do you even have time for a relationship?”

Strategy: Make a joke. Keep work and personal life separate when at all possible.

You say: “Oh, it’s OK. I keep him/her in a closet. He’s very patient.”

One more tip

One more quick tip if you’re a smart, single woman this holiday season: My new book, “Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love” goes on sale January 1. If your New Year’s resolution is to date smarter and find that special someone in 2009, check out my website http://www.readmarrysmart.com.

Any holiday war stories to share with other BustedHalo readers? If you’ve got a great holiday singles tale (good, bad or ugly) post it in the comments section below and send it to me via email at puresex@bustedhalo.com. I’ll send a free autographed copy of my new book “Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love” to the best three stories I receive. Post your comments and advice below. Merry Christmas!

The Author : Christine B. Whelan
Dr. Christine B. Whelan is an author, professor and speaker. She and her husband, Peter, and their dictator cats, Chairman Meow and Evita Purron, live in Pittsburgh. Her book "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" is available in stores or at the Halo Store.
See more articles by (214).
Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • http://www.manlymenblog.com Women

    Is there a way to become a content writer for the site?

  • Perpetually Single College Dude

    Well I’m gay so it’s a question I usually have to evade every Christmas from my very Catholic family….gah!

    Still, I find that during the holidays (at least for me) the main focus is spending time with family: remembering old times, listening to that crazy uncle’s stories (I know we all have one in some incarnation or another haha), and eating good home-made food before parting off to college and/or the world of 9 to 5 offices again in Jan.

    In all the family craziness and joy, it reminds me that single or not, I know that we are not alone. And that’s the message I feel our born Lord seeks to bring us every Christmas.

    Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Here’s to a Happy Year! :-)

  • Kristan

    I have several replies:
    “Are you dating anyone?”
    “oh, that’s okay”
    “Yes, it is.”

    “Why aren’t you married?”
    “I’m 29; too young. Besides, I’m waiting for my friends’ kids to get a bit older so I can have 10 flower girls and 10 ring bearers at my wedding.”

  • Canada joe

    My wife once got this one while playing a family card game at the age of 34. “You don’t want to be the one left holding that last card or you’ll be the old maid.” Then there was awkward silence for about 30 interminable seconds.
    I just remember on our wedding day she held that bouquet up like it was the Stanley Cup

  • Vfig

    I used to get upset whenever relatives, particularly family matrons, used to ask about my single status. Now, though, I’m less defensive – for them, choices were limited and expectations were clear. Career – teacher, nurse, sec’y, other – for a few years, then marriage and kids. Weddings, babies and families are a great source of joy for everyone, so why wouldn’t they want it for me too?

    If you have a full life of friends, spiritual and volunteer activities, they’ll be happy for you too.

    I’ll keep to the same response – I’m comfortable being single – thank you.

  • Shea

    I didn’t get married until I was 41, so as you can imagine, I’ve heard them all. I think the worst was when my Mom started lowering my expectations for me. She’d mention an old friend that she believed was an unthinkable match in the past, and say, “You know, I wouldn’t mind if you dated him.” And of course my Dad telling me that I’m too independent, and that men don’t like that. *sigh* Be sure to change who you are to please somebody else. *double sigh* I met a wonderful man who loves me for being exactly who I am, and oh look, no lowered expectations, and he’s comforting knowing that if he wasn’t there, I could take care of myself.

    Although I admit that after hearing the old statistic of being more likely to get hit by lightning than getting married after the age of 40, I do stay out of rainstorms. ;-)

  • Anna

    My extended family was doing a “Reply All” e-mail back and forth on who was bringing what for Thanksgiving dinner. My aunt listed the number of chairs needed per family. I was listed as “Anna- 1. How sad.” I knew she was partly joking because she then listed her own single self as “even sadder,” but it still smarted. Then another aunt replied back to the effect of, “Don’t worry, Anna, you can at least enjoy the food.” And this went out to about 20 different family members.

powered by the Paulists