By: Ellen Donaghy
As comfortable as you might be with your single status the rest of the year, being single during the holidays isn’t easy for anyone. It’s a time for family and friends, to celebrate being with those you love. But if you’re the only one of your loved ones who’s not in love, the holidays can be a minefield of reminders that you haven’t found “the one” yet. You can only see so many couples walking hand in mittened hand down the streets, be the fifth wheel at only so many cocktail parties, and pretend you don’t see only so many people kissing under the mistletoe before holiday loneliness starts to sneak up on you.
You feel like everyone is reminding you that you’re alone for the holidays. At Thanksgiving, your nephew will tell you all about how this one boy in his kindergarten class got to be a ring bearer in his aunt’s wedding and demand to know when you’re getting married so he can be your ring bearer. When you show up alone to the office holiday party, your boss will give you a sympathetic head tilt and say, “No plus one for you this year?” At your closest friend’s holiday party, you’ll find yourself under the mistletoe and look around to see only his wife’s bad-tempered cat—and even she hisses and runs away when you make eye contact.
So when an old flame calls out of the blue and ask to get together for a holiday drink “for old times’ sake,” the temptation to try to rekindle that spark can be pretty strong. You might think about last holiday season, when you were snuggling in front of the fireplace, laughing and tossing handfuls of snow at one another as you walked through the park and swapping candy cane flavored kisses. Before you add monogrammed towels to your holiday wishlist, take these things into consideration.
Why are you exes?
There are all sorts of reasons couples don’t go the distance, but why did your relationship end? Was it a matter of the wrong time and place, something that could be overcome by the time you spent apart? Or was it a more fundamental disagreement? If you went your separate ways because one of you wanted to get married and/or have children and the other didn’t, or because one of you liked living in your condo in the city while the other wanted a house in the suburbs, reuniting with your ex could just mean dredging up disagreements even more stale than last year’s fruitcake.
What was the relationship like?
It can be easy to remember the fun, the romance and the best of times when you’re dreading going solo to a slew of holiday parties, but stop for a moment and think about whether or not you’re remembering your relationship accurately. Even the best relationships have rocky periods, but a relationship that was on the rocks more often than a good scotch is drama you don’t need. If your life has been happier, clearer and more peaceful since you’ve been solo, you might just want to turn down your ex’s glass of holiday cheer.
How much have you changed?
Breakups are times of growth and change for you both as you let your heart heal, so you need to ask yourself how much you’ve changed since the relationship ended and how much you still have in common with your ex—and with the person you were when you were together. You may find that things have changed so much that you can’t even remember why you wanted the other person in your life in the first place. Or it could be that whatever caused the relationship to fail during the first go around hasn’t changed at all and you might just be re-gifting yourself a second heartbreak.
It can be easy for alone for the holidays to turn into lonely at the holidays, but reconciling with an old love might not make for the happy new year you envision for the two of you. Under the right circumstances, giving an ex a second chance can lead to lasting love. But if your instincts tell you the relationship will end again before the confetti has been cleaned up on January first, it might be best to resolve to meet someone new.