How Not To Shame Single People Over The Holidays

The holidays are approaching. And while Andy Williams would have you believe it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” they can be a real pain in the ass for single people. Why’s that? It all comes down to single shaming, the practice of suggesting single people are less valuable than their partnered peers.

There are many ways you can shame single folks in subtle – or overt – ways. To help you avoid stigmatizing your single loved ones this holiday season, we’ve assembled a list of things not to do to the unattached.

1. Don’t Pry About Their Love Lives

When you’re a single person, constantly regaling people with tales of your dating life – or lack thereof – is boring and exhausting. So stop reducing single loved ones to their relationship status. Instead, find a different go-to topic of conversation. Perhaps you could ask them about their career, their friends, or even their interests. If you know someone’s interested in American politics, maybe ask their opinion about who will win the Democratic Party’s primaries. This could lead to a scintillating conversation about whether Joe Biden is actually as electable as the party establishment thinks he is. When we treat single people like actual people, everybody wins!

Simply put, single folks contain multitudes. So, it’s time to stop reducing them to their relationship status. Think about it this way: It would be rude to harangue a partnered person about whether they’re happy with the state of their marriage. With that in mind, why do we feel entitled to interrogate unattached persons? If Relative X needs you to know something, they’ll tell you.

2. Don’t Set Them Up With The Only Other Single Person You Know

For many of us, going home for the holidays means catching up with old friends, making memories with family, and going on wretched dates your Aunt Mildred organized. Don’t get me wrong, set ups can, on occasion, be successful. I know plenty of eligible people who interested in being connected with other singles. However, when partnered people foist inappropriate matches on their single loved ones, that’s not cool. Ask yourself, “Do I actually think these humans are compatible? Or, are they just the only two single people I know?” If it’s the latter, it’s insulting to assume those in question are so desperate they’ll settle for absolutely anyone. In such situations, skip the setup and take a single loved one to the spa instead!

3. Don’t Expect Them To Provide Free Babysitting

As a parent-to-be, I appreciate how experience childcare is. Paying a teenage babysitter’s hourly rate so you can catch the new Margot Robbie movie costs almost as much as week’s worth of groceries. For this reason, it can be tempting to use child-free, unpartnered family as a source of no-cost childcare. But please resist the urge to exploit these people! Single folks also deserve time to relax over the holidays! Now, if they offer to do some child-minding duties, feel free to accept that generous offer; however, you’re not entitled to that free labour. It’s not incumbent upon people without their own babies to look after anyone else’s.

4. Don’t Balk If They Can’t Afford Luxurious Gifts

There’s a common misconception that unpartnered, child-free people must have tons of disposable cash. But, if you believe that myth, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d love to sell you!

Being single is expensive AF. When you don’t have a dual income household, every expense falls on – you guessed it! – you. Whether it’s rent, groceries, or saving for retirement, each bill gets paid from the same overworked bank account. So, refrain from giving a single person side-eye if they present you with a modest gift at Hanukkah or Christmas. For every rich Auntie Mame figure you know, there are six-dozen unattached people struggling to pay for their own Netflix account.

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as Elle Canada, Flare, Bitch Media, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-host of You Do You: A Dating Podcast. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about politics and live-tweets The Bachelor