Here’s how you navigate Christmas when you’re single

By: Sirin Kale

Being single at Christmas can be fucking bleak.

Sure, it’s not the acid bath for your soul that is Valentine’s Day, but at least that’s just twenty-four hours of smug couples polluting your Instagram feed. Christmas provides a slower form of corrosion, one made over time with a steady drip-feed of twinkly lovers in matching festive jumpers and frozen fingers interlaced between mugs of mulled wine. ‘Here’s us ice skating at Somerset House’. A picture of a pile of presents with the caption “Best Boyfriend Ever <3<3<3’. ‘You deserve it babe <3<3<3’ he comments, adding for emphasis ‘I luv 2 treat my princess [princess emoji]’.

Well, fuck them. Christmas can be a great time to be single. Everyone’s out, all the time, and everyone’s on it, so that’s less time spent curled up in your grotty flatshare feeling sorry for yourself. Christmas is a time of year where you can legitimately wake up, fully-clothed on your bed in a red velvet dress with mascara smudged across your face and not be the physical manifestation of Claire Danes’ cry face. You’re just doing what everyone else does at Christmas, which is getting inappropriately drunk and making a pass at your boss.

The most important thing to remember when being single at Christmas is not to indulge in your feelings of misery. Yes, you will have to bat away questions from your parents about your poor life decisions ‘you ended it with him? But he had a PhD?!’ And there will a coked-up bore who’ll spend Sunday afternoon haranguing you in the pub about how you shouldn’t give up on romance because they were twenty-eight before they met their partner, and now they have a heavily-mortgaged flat full of mid-century furniture and a sporadic, unsatisfying sex life.

“Christmas is one of those times that can amplify our emotions. It’s like a liberal sprinkling of Maldon sea salt for your soul.”


Christmas is one of those times that can amplify our emotions. It’s like a liberal sprinkling of Maldon sea salt for your soul. So if you’re feeling shitty about being single, you are going to end up having a horrible time. On the other hand, if you’re feeling *clicks fingers* fabulous, you may just end up snogging an attractive man with limited English round the bins of your local dive bar. It’s all your mental attitude.

A primer for how to get through the festive season without bankrupting yourself and getting fat and miserable is to choose your parties carefully. Also, try to avoid all pastry-based snacks. Leave behind your inherent fear of missing out, and turn down invites (not on the day, obviously, because no one loves a flake). Particularly if you struggle with anxiety, like many people do, the pressure of having to be your most sociable, twinkly self at parties full of people you’re not that close too can sometimes be too much.

[Obviously don’t turn down parties where attractive single people might be in attendance].

Another good thing to do is to reduce your social media use. If you’ve just come out of a relationship, going on Instagram this time of year is like sticking bamboo shoots under your fingernails. You’re just inviting a whole world of unnecessary pain. Remember that no one’s life is as perfect as the filter would suggest. Everyone’s social media use presents a carefully curated aesthetic to the world. Don’t let seasonal jealousy get the better of you. That shiny happy couple who seem to go to all the best parties might have a completely fucked up relationship for all you know. And even if they don’t, who cares? Don’t begrudge other people happiness (unless they’re dicks, of course).

“If you’ve just come out of a relationship, going on Instagram this time of year is like sticking bamboo shoots under your fingernails.”


In the interests of conducting (ahem) journalistic research for this piece, I googled ‘Christmas in a relationship’ and found a whole series of amusing listicles dedicated to making sure you have the best possible Christmas with your partner. One of the tips was ‘make her a necklace out of macaroni’. I’m not even going to bother trying to make a witty joke about that. Other tips tended towards the school of ‘try to limit yourself to two glasses of wine at dinner to avoid getting into fights’. If you’re actually reading those tips and thinking, ‘what a good idea’, there’s clearly something wrong with you because literally no one should have to be in a two-glasses-of-wine-limit-at-Christmas relationship. Relationships should allow you to be your sloppy, drunken self.

Another major advantage of not having to spend Christmas with a significant other is financial. That’s half as many scented candles you’ve got to panic-buy, supermarket sweep-style, for an aunt with facial stubble and a hormone problem. Why not buy another pair of Reebok Classics and monogram ‘I luv myself’ on them instead?

Although Christmas can make you feel cripplingly alone, actually you should remember that you’re alone anyway. This isn’t me trying to make you feel more depressed. We’re all alone, really. You can be in the most perfect-seeming relationship in the world, and feel alone. This time last year I was posing for beach shots on a deserted tropical beach and things weren’t perfect. Christmas is just a made-up holiday, and nothing which invites the wearing of polyester moron jumpers should make you feel that much worse about yourself than you do normally.


Really, Christmas should be a joyous celebration of all the stuff that’s good in your life. Yeah, you can feel shit about yourself because you’ve not got a significant other giving you mid-range jewellery under the tree. Or you can try and celebrate the positive stuff. Like friends, and family, and carbohydrates cooked in delicious animal fat. Like the fact that you’re not going to have to watch Love, Actually for at least another year. Like that fact that you’re another year older, and hopefully wiser, and you’re not the person you were a year ago on a tropical beach, pretending to be happy in a relationship that wasn’t working.

And, mostly, that no-one has made you a fucking necklace out of macaroni that you’re going to have to pretend to like.



Sirin Kale

Sirin is a London-based freelance journalist and blogger with a particular interest in womens’ rights. Contributor at VICE, The Debrief, and Broadly


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