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How to Cope during Family Parties When Single

With Christmas coming up, it is normal to feel excited and/or nervous about the family fiestas. Being a child and attending the parties had a different vibe. You could have been carefree, loud, and remember the food, games and music. However, as a single adult, you may be dreading these holiday reunions because of the pressure you may feel the expectations through questions like:

“¿Y el novio?” 

“¿Y la novia?” 

“¿Los nietos para cuando?” 

Or comments that minimize your accomplishments and the work you have put in to your goals:

“Maybe if you worked less, you could focus on keeping a relationship.” 

“Watch what you eat, so you can get a girlfriend/boyfriend.” 

“Aprende de tus primas que tienen pareja.”

These comments emphasize a focus on your relationship status. Some feelings you may experience and that are valid may include embarrassment, shame, anxiety, loneliness or disappointment. If this resonates with you below are some suggestions to help you cope with these questions and comments.

It is important to emotionally and mentally prepare yourself before these events. Family events can be overstimulating and your nervous system may be on high alert before attending. Recognizing how your body is responding to your thoughts around attending this fiesta, who will be there or  what topics you want to avoid will bring up sensations in your body. These are likely not new, but your awareness of them could be. Our bodies tend to get tense when we recall memories or thoughts like these, so giving your body permission to release tension, and take a big slow breath will be helpful for your nervous system. If possible, inhaling through your nose slowly for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 4 seconds and releasing very slowly out from the mouth for 8 seconds (or longer) in three cycles is a favorite technique.

As you hear comments, or are approached about your relationship status (or any uncomfortable topic), you will need to remember that your mental health comes first. This can be subjective. For some, it may mean that they pick their battles, for others that they will set boundaries, and for others that they will choose to ignore. Your response needs to be rooted in your best interest and what will ultimately protect you emotionally. As a therapist and a Latina, I know that we may not be emotionally safe with certain family members and you will need to use discernment to know which family member you choose to respond to.  

The following are various ways to responding in the moment: 

Setting boundaries: Whether the boundaries are based on how long you stay, what you say, or body language, knowing your limits around these questions and comments will help in the long run to decrease this topic. It may sound like any of the following below.

Healthy Deflection: This can include giving an honest response with redirection at the end, such as “I choose to not be dating. I love how my life is going.” After this, adding a question about their life is suggested to balance things out, for example: “How is zumba going?”

Humor: There are some relatives that we can be funny with to steer away from the invasion of privacy being attempted. This can sound like “mejor sola que mala acompañada” or “there’s too many to introduce and choose from,” or simply “My peace is my partner.” 

Questioning the Intention: Perhaps you want to reverse the discomfort, or want to genuinely learn where their intention is coming from. Asking “What are the reasons why you would like to know?” “How does my relationship status change things for you?”

Firm Stance: Being direct and to the point with, or without, feeling words is an option. You can find yourself saying something along the following lines: “I am uncomfortable with this topic and do not want to discuss my relationship status at family gatherings.” 

One thing I have learned in my line of work with the older generation is that there are relatives that are repeating questions that they believe make you feel connected to them, without realizing how harmful it can be to you. And yes, there are also relatives that can ask this and compare you to others to hurt you. But, for those that are repeating cycles, I encourage you to take time to educate them about who you are, how you are more than a relationship status, so that they can ask you about other subjects that matter to you in the future.

If this was helpful and you would like to work with a Latina/o Therapist, search through our directory:

We wish you a restorative and peaceful holiday season!

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