There is no other way to put this than I am lonely. The holidays are upon us, and I am single for the first time in more than seven years, and I do not know what to do. I broke up with my boyfriend last May because I felt we were not going anywhere. We were fighting over small things, and he had let himself go. I am in great shape and consider my physical health and appearance to be important. He just stopped caring about these things a while back. Am I shallow to throw away a long relationship because he was getting chubby? I just couldn’t imagine what he was going to look like in another 10 years. That wasn’t the only problem, but it made me not care to work on the others. I just felt taken for granted. I decided to do it in the spring so I would have time to find a new guy by fall, but it has not gone too well. Being single was fun at first, and I have dated a couple of guys since then, but no one seems to want anything serious, and now I am going to be alone for the holidays. I find myself thinking about trying to get back together with my ex just to not be alone. I know it is wrong, but I hate the idea of spending Thanksgiving and Christmas around a bunch of married people and couples and my family and not having anyone. I am not even going out to any Halloween parties because it is too embarrassing to go somewhere dressed up alone. How do I know if I made a mistake or how do I find a new boyfriend in just a few weeks? I just want to crawl under a rock and cry some days. I know I am a bit older than the usual people who write in to you, but I am hoping you still might have some good advice from one man to another.
— A Last-Minute Holiday Shopper
P.S. Are you single? Just kidding — or not ;-)?
Dear Last-Minute Shopper,
I am single, but if there were some code of ethics for advice columnists, I’m sure it would not allow picking up lonely advice seekers. (At least I like to pretend rules like this exist because it makes my work seem more important.) Besides I still think being single is fun. No last-minute homo holiday nuptials in my seasonal plans.
You could try the cakewalk at the local holiday festivals leading into the season, but I think you should scrap the insta-boyfriend idea, too. Date and have fun. If something happens, merry effin’ Christmas; if not, you can’t force it. Just repeat to yourself lots of optimistic clichés like “There is more than one pond on this rock.”
I have these people I call friends, and we hang out on the holidays and every other kind of day, too. Surely all of your friends are not in relationships? Take a platonic date to your holiday parties. My best dates for special events and parties have always been the ones who were just friends.
Loneliness is a state of mind more than anything. You don’t have a significant romantic relationship, so you need to focus on your close family and friends. You need to avoid letting your fear of being alone lead to depression or even a serious holiday funk. If you do start to lose control over these feelings you may want to see a therapist to keep things in check.
To answer your first question, I don’t know if you’re shallow. It is somewhat reasonable for a relationship to end because someone won’t take care of himself. If he was drinking too much and unwilling to address his behavior, it would be considered acceptable to break up. Unhealthy is unhealthy, and everyone has his limits for tolerating it in others. Now if you are having trouble dating because no one is good-looking enough or thin enough or whatever, then you could be totally shallow. And, yes, I would think you kind of terrible to take him back just to get through the holidays. No backsies unless you mean it!
Much luck and love,
Your Uncle Mat
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