Why We Should Ignore Mariah Carey When She Sings About What She Wants For Christmas
All I Want For Christmas Is You may continue to reign superior over any other festive tune, but the messages of the song need to – quite frankly – f*ck off.
Pretty much all festive films, television programmes, songs and events, centre around the apparent necessity to have a partner at Christmas, or to wish for one to magically appear underneath the tree.
Media in the festive season perpetuates the idea that being alone in winter is tragic, undesirable, and almost shameful. Even The Grinch is laced with a love story and results in him getting to be with Martha May.
But why is the idea of being alone in the winter season so feared? UNILAD spoke to the UK’s top celebrity dating expert and dating coach, James Preece, about the stigma associated with being alone at Christmas, why being single is actually healthy for you, and how to combat the pressures of finding a partner when the inevitable great aunt questions why you’re still so alone.
Much as Bridget Jones’ mother tried to fling her into the arms of Mark Darcey, society places an air of shame onto us singletons when it comes to the festive period.
I’m newly single, and just waiting in dreaded anticipation for the next family Christmas do, when an old fart decides to turn around and ask where my boyfriend is, looking pityingly at me when I admit that I have no dashing young suitor trailing in my wake. 32% of people also feel the same, noting how the festive season is the holiday they’d least likely to be single on, according to Zoosk.
James agreed that the festive season comes with ‘so much pressure’, particularly at family parties when ‘everyone asks if you’ve met someone yet’.
You feel this overwhelming pressure that you must have somebody, and look good enough to have somebody, and some grandma or someone says to you, ‘Are you ever going to find anyone?’
Currently, I’m sat in the same trackies I’ve been wearing for the past two consecutive weeks, in the wonky glasses I’ve had since the age of eight. I definitely don’t look ‘good enough’ to have a partner. But why should I, as one of the ‘heartbreaking’ one in five of us who are set to be alone this Christmas, want to?
I’m 21 years old, and while my dream aged 18 was to be married by 24, with kids by 26, that dream has gone straight out the window.
Why do we continue to place such rigid constraints around romance and relationships, when we should just be running wild and free?
James explained that many of his female clients often take it to heart when they are asked by family members or friends about their non-existent partner. But in his view, ‘if you’re on your own, Christmas should be about family and friends, rather than relationships’.
While happily married and with children now, James is still haunted by all those years of being single at Christmas. ‘You see other people – like other family members – who might be in relationships, and they’ve been together for ages, and you feel like you’re the last one left, don’t you?’
However, for me, having been in two different two-year relationships since the age of 16, I couldn’t be more excited at the idea of being single and ready to mingle.
James agreed that actually, despite sometimes feeling like you’re falling behind those around you in the race to find love, that many couples are actually ‘secretly jealous of you’ because of the flexibility single life offers.
‘You’ve got the freedom at Christmas to go to as many Christmas parties, as many events as you want to, if you want to fly to Lapland you can. You have no pressure of being tied to anybody,’ he noted.
James also explained how being single at Christmas offers a ‘good chance to reconnect with people’.
‘It’s a good chance to rekindle relationships with people you may not have seen because of your relationship, or have left out a bit, rather than focusing on what you need to supposedly add more value to your life,’ he said. Lockdown also contributed to people wanting to spend more time with family, after 55% of people said it had inspired them to make more effort, as per Relate.
James also urged people to think of Christmas as a time to love your family, friends, pets and yourself more. Self-love shouldn’t be forgotten about, as hard as it can be to grapple with, but James recommends channelling the effort you’d put into a partner into yourself instead.
‘Treat yourself, buy yourself a few presents, you’re going to save a few quid not having to buy them for somebody else, go and buy things that you really want, because only you really know this,’ he said.
Alongside self-reflection, the festive period is also ‘a very common time for people to break up’, according to James, which has been exacerbated by COVID. James noted how it tends to be a result of people realising they don’t just want to settle, and makes them begin to think about what they truly want in a partner.
COVID has also spurred people to take time to be on their own and ‘take dating and their next relationship more seriously’. According to Relate, 8% of the UK population decided to split up amid the pandemic, after lockdown made 61% realise that relationships were the most important thing to them. James resultantly views this December as being an ‘honestly really good time to be single’.
However, while it’s good to know what you want in your next relationship, and what qualities and behaviour you will and won’t accept, don’t stress about thinking about a partner until the New Year, as according to James, January and February are the best months for dating anyway.
But for now, ignore the songs, films and festive adverts shoving romance right in your face.
James noted they are just ‘trying to get it into your brain that you must have someone, and must buy presents, and spend money,’ but it’s a ‘myth’ that everyone who’s single is unhappy.
This comes back from the whole Scrooge thing as well, back in A Christmas Carol. Scrooge is a miserable old guy who let his true love go, and that’s often sold at Christmas time.
By the end you realise that love is all about your family and all these other things too, but he doesn’t actually need someone, he is just miserable because he chose money.
Instead, James advised you should ‘go get yourself a ready meal and sit and watch Netflix in your pyjamas’. Amen to that.
So buy yourself a vibrator – or whatever floats your boat – or get a four-legged friend for companionship and cuddles, and then who the hell needs a partner anyway?
If you do fancy getting back out there once the festive season has finally blown over, then you can get all the dating advice and support you need via James’ website
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
CreditsRelate and 3 others