Coping with Holiday Loneliness: The Pressure to Find Love

By Susan Ball, Abuse Recovery Expert.

The holiday season, with its festive decorations, sparkling lights, and cheerful music, is a time of year filled with joy and celebration. For many, it’s a time to connect with family and friends, exchange gifts, and reflect on the year’s accomplishments. However, there’s no denying that the holiday season can also be a particularly challenging time for those who are single, especially if you struggle with co-dependency.

The holidays were a very difficult time for me. The messages and bombardment of happy couples and families would bring out several emotions at the same time. I would feel desperately lonely and unwanted, angry because my relationships had proven disastrous, and disappointed and angry with my family for my mistreatment and neglect.

Truth be told there were holiday seasons where I went out and picked up anyone who would spend the holidays with me. I thought having a man would make me feel better. It didn’t. In fact, it made things worse. It wasn’t healthy or fun or healing. When I decided to take a time out and explore myself and my gaps, that’s when the real magic of healing began and I stopped looking for someone to fill the void.

I decided to holiday my way and invented Cupcake Christmas which brought me immense joy!

What are the reasons codependents may feel desperate to find a boyfriend or girlfriend for the holidays?

The Pressure to Find Love

Societal Expectations:

One of the primary reasons codependents often feel compelled to find a romantic partner during the holidays is the tremendous pressure of societal expectations. Popular culture, holiday-themed movies, and advertising campaigns frequently portray holiday romance – sparkly surprise engagement rings under the tree – as the ideal. Watching and listening to the continuous message of the holidays are romantic, the perfect time of year for couples and families creates a sense of inadequacy or the fear of missing out on something special if you don’t have a significant other for the holidays.

Fear of Loneliness:

Codependent individuals often struggle with an excessive fear of being alone. The holiday season, with its emphasis on togetherness and companionship, can exacerbate these feelings of loneliness. Many codependents perceive a partner as a source of comfort and reassurance, especially during a season that can evoke feelings of nostalgia and reflection.

External Validation:

The desire to be in a relationship during the holidays comes from the belief that being part of a couple validates their worth and social standing. This need for external validation becomes heightened during the holiday season. Sitting at the dinner table alone again and answering Uncle Larry’s intrusive questions about why you’re not married is not something to look forward to. It’s easier to show up with a date so that you don’t feel left out of the happy couple ritual. 

Overwhelming Images and Expectations

Engagements and Proposals:

The holiday season is a popular time for proposals and engagements. Social media and news outlets are filled with heartwarming stories of couples getting engaged against the backdrop of a picturesque winter wonderland. These images can intensify the pressure on codependent individuals, making them feel as though their love life should be following a similar trajectory.

Gift-Giving:

The exchange of thoughtful and elaborate gifts between couples during the holidays is a widely celebrated tradition. Images of individuals receiving beautiful, expensive, and creatively packaged presents from their significant others are common during this time, reinforcing the idea that love and material affection are closely tied. This can create feelings of inadequacy for those who are not in a relationship.

Family Gatherings:

Holiday family gatherings often emphasize the importance of companionship. The sight of everyone at the table paired up with their significant others can make single individuals, particularly codependents, feel as if they are missing out on a crucial aspect of life.

Coping Strategies for a Wonderful Single Holiday Season

Self-Love, Self-Reflection and Self-Care:

Embrace the holiday season as an opportunity for self-love and self-reflection. Use this time to assess your desires and goals, both in and out of a relationship. Understand that being single does not diminish your worth as an individual.

The holidays are a perfect time to engage in self-care. Treat yourself to a spa day, a weekend getaway, or simply enjoy your favourite hobbies. Self-care can help reduce feelings of loneliness and provide a sense of fulfilment.

Focus on Building Meaningful Connections:

Instead of focusing on a romantic relationship, concentrate on strengthening your friendships. If you have a healthy relationship with your family, focus on enjoying time with them. The holidays are a great time to nurture healthy connections and create lasting memories.

Volunteer and Give Back:

Participating in volunteer activities can be incredibly rewarding during the holiday season. Giving back to the community can provide a sense of purpose and fulfilment, helping to combat feelings of loneliness. For myself and my girls, we began volunteering on Christmas Day serving meals to the homeless. It was a life-altering decision and certainly helped me focus on my healing and establishing healthy connections.

Create New Traditions:

During the holiday season, we tend to follow traditions we learned as children whether we like them or not. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the creation of new traditions! Focusing on something new, boosts your happy hormones and encourages you to be curious and adventurous!

For me it was the creation of Cupcake Christmas! Building on our love for serving the homeless, my youngest daughter and I decided we needed to give presents to those who were on the street. We went through the usual socks, scarves, blankets but churches and social services handed those out. We came up with the crazy idea of giving every person we could a cupcake! In the cold, one by one, we gave them their own cupcake to enjoy. And the smiles we received gave us the greatest gift of all.

I was inspired by Cupcake Christmas and how simple joy could be given and decided to create a new tradition – I gave the overdone holidays away, let go of the pressure to perform, or show up with a new boyfriend, give gifts to people I didn’t particularly like, and I chose quiet holidays.

The joy of being alone is that you can create what you want the holiday season to be for you. You have the freedom to choose how you will celebrate. If you will celebrate. Whose table you sit at. Cook or don’t cook. Go to church or not. To tree or not to tree. Do you even like trees? 

Being alone and deciding to enjoy and learn about you, is the greatest gift you will give yourself. By shifting your perspective and focusing on personal growth and fulfilment, you can have a truly joyful and fulfilling holiday season, regardless of your romantic relationship status.

Susan Ball is an Abuse Recovery Expert who works with women ready to free their voice, break the cycle, and live life unapologetically. Enroll in Taking Back the Holidays Course – you’re worth it. https://www.recoveryafterabuse.ca/courses/oh-fu-k-it-s-the-holidays

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