Mary Me

The Married Gal's Guide to Helping Single Gal's Survive the Holidays

Last year, I wrote a "Single Gal's Guide to Surviving the Holidays" to help all my singles make it through the "happiest time of the year." The holidays are stressful for everyone, and really it's a six-week-long emotional minefield regardless of your marital status.

However, this year I have compiled a handy guide for married women to help their single friends during the holidays. Single gals: give this to your friends and family members so that you will all be more likely to enjoy each other's company this holiday season. Married gals: commit these "Do's" and "Don'ts" to memory, lest you upset your single gal pal and she ruins your Christmas Party by either flirting with all the men in the room or hiding in the bathroom crying.

Don't ring check me. It is so obvious when I haven't seen you in a while (like since last year's holiday party), and you are trying to check out my left hand to see if I'm wearing an engagement or wedding ring. Either be more subtle, or just keep the eye contact consistent.

Don't ask me if I'm dating anyone in the first 30 seconds of the conversation. 
Ask me about my life-my work, family, vacations, highlights of the past year, New Year's resolutions, am I done with my shopping, etc. Believe me, if I'm dating someone I'm excited about, I'll mention it to you. Otherwise, don't make my dating life one of your first three questions because it just makes me feel like a failure when, even though I got a promotion and own my own home, I "still don't have a boyfriend."

Don't set me up with dweebs.
If you want to set up your single friends, find something in common other than marital status. Just because I'm single doesn't mean I'm desperate. And even if I'm desperate, don't let me know that you know I'm desperate by setting me up with someone just because "he's single, too."

Don't tell me I'm too picky, unless you've seen me dump guys because I don't like their socks or I won't go out with anyone who isn't a Braves fan. If that's the case, let's have lunch after the holidays and you can explain to me why I'm still single. Otherwise, don't assume I'm picky. One of my girlfriends told me her three criteria: he has to love me; he must be kind; he must not be married already. So, when people tell her she's "picky," she asks which one of those three she should compromise on. The only thing worse than feeling alone during the holidays is having people tell you it's your fault that you are alone during the holidays.

Don't tell me a fairy tale.
Please don't tell me about your cousin's best friend who met her soul mate at age 52 and just got married. I know you're trying to encourage me not to give up, but the older I get, I know the odds are not in my favor. Another version of this is: Don't try to tell me about being single when you got married before you were 30. Being single after age 35 is a very different experience than being single at age 25. So don't try to tell me how to cope-you don't have a clue.

Do include me. Well, that is if you still want me around after expressing all the things I don't want you to do. If you are going to be in town, check with the singles you know (if you want to spend time with them) and include them.

Do listen and understand.
Just listen to me when I share my feelings. The holidays bring out heightened emotions in all of us, and the constant reference to family is a big reminder that I don't have one. You can't fix it, and I don't expect you to. Just listen. Give me a hug. Remind me I have friends. Call me or text me to check on me.

Do share your feelings with me.
Everybody struggles during the holidays. It helps me when my married, mother-of-two BFF tells me how much she dreads and hates the holidays. It reminds me that having a family will not give me a Norman Rockwell holiday. Family brings blessings, but it also brings more stress.

Mary R. Dittman, M.B.A. is an Instructor of Marketing and Director of the Internship Program in the School of Business at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC.  She consults for a variety of local and regional companies, and is actively single and involved in the Florence community.

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