By the time December rolls around, Tinder is awash with people pretending to have fun at ice rinks and begging prospective dates to try out some appalling pop-up venue. Adult men throw around the word “snuggles” as if it’s a legitimate hobby, and you wonder whether a boyfriend might be a good idea, just to stop Auntie June from treating your womb like it’s a defective pressure cooker bought in last year’s John Lewis sale.
If you cave in to the cries of the dating massive, true love probably isn’t on the cards. You’re more likely to end up at an overcrowded winter fairground with a management consultant called Dave, sipping mediocre mulled wine and dissecting the merits of the British tax system. Eventually, when you’ve lost all feeling in your fingers and Dave has moved on to the subject of his fetishes, you’ll run home to drown your sorrows in a glass of wine and a large Domino’s.
I’ll admit I’ve submitted to cuffing season in the past. One year the thought of being alone for Christmas was so depressing, I tried to work things out with a man who kissed like he’d had his tongue severed in a freak NutriBullet accident and was using my tonsils to piece it back together. On another occasion, I spent a date nursing a guy with stomach ache, gingerly mopping his fevered brow and praying it wasn’t the norovirus.
After years of terrible dates and disappointing gifts, however, I’m genuinely excited about the prospect of ditching the apps and appreciating the single life this Christmas. Because, despite claims from interfering relatives and Mariah Carey, it’s one of the greatest times to be alone. As well as the financial bonus of not buying gifts for your beloved and their extended family, you get the luxury of being completely selfish for the duration of the holidays. And while we’re trained to think of selfishness as a negative, alone time is truly the greatest luxury of being human (just ask a new parent) .
Whether it’s volunteering for your favourite charity, booking a trip away, reading on the sofa or just lying in bed emptying a syringe of chocolate into your podgy, pie-filled mouth, the festive season is yours to do exactly what you want with.
Of course, there’s a high chance you’ll spend a good chunk of it getting drunk with family and throwing Scrabble tiles at their heads. But even rows about turkey basting have their charm when you’re single, allowing you to clutch on to kidulthood for that bit longer. Even though I’ve reached the grand age of 33, my parents still dutifully put a stocking outside my room to be filled by Father Christmas, and have promised to continue doing until I have kids of my own. And in that blissful, carb-fuelled haze between Christmas and New Year, I will watch and eat everything I want without compromise, without apology and without moving into the utility room because someone is watching the football.
I’ll come back to my empty flat, turn the heating up and spend an hour lying in a boiling hot bath, just because there’s nobody to annoy with the gas bill. There will be no scurrying around the country to meet in-laws who think I’ve got a fat arse and spend an inappropriate amount on M&S meal deals. Instead of searching for a bloke to kiss on New Year’s Eve, I’ve booked a three-week holiday around Australia, to get drunk on the beach and celebrate my lack of real responsibilities.
There’s plenty to celebrate about good relationships, but in a world where thirtysomething single women are still treated like freaks, it’s time we changed the focus. Instead of settling for middling dates and cheap white wine, we should be enjoying our own company and be grateful for friends, families and careers.
This year there will be no moping about my marital status, no joining the festive shag stampede, just making the most of my alone time while it lasts. Remember, Tinder users: once you’ve found the The One, there’s no going back to those hour-long spot-squeezing sessions in the bathroom. A husband isn’t just for Christmas – he’s for life.