The fantasy is tempting.
It’s a daydream we find ourselves dwelling on a little too often as Michael Bublé defrosts and radio stations add another Christmas song with questionable lyrics to the annual blacklist.
You welcome the invites which encourage plus ones. The questions from relatives about the possibility of a ‘young man on the scene’ no longer make you feel unwell. Despite an acute awareness that the joy you feel probably stems from some deeply internalised patriarchal logic screaming that without a partner you are incomplete – you also don’t care.
The fantasy, naturally, includes someone intimidatingly attractive. The kind of human so immaculately formed that aunties’ blush while talking to them and return from toilet breaks sporting a new layer of crimson lipstick after you boastfully introduce them to the family at a boxing day dinner you usually dread. They tower over any ex when you stride into your old haunts and they probably symbolise everything you wished you’d become at uni. You parade your compatibility and infatuation with one another at every opportunity with a sickening form of exhibitionism. Personally, this fabricated individual usually takes the form of a Jude Law – Harry Styles hybrid with an Aussie accent, flawless sense of style and a life goal of solving the climate crisis.
The frequency of this daydream is usually highest directly after watching Love Actually and provides approximately 3 minutes of uninterrupted bliss. However, you are inevitably brought crashing back down to earth with the sobering realisation that you’re actually just a bad feminist who views romantic partners as an extension of your narcissism instead of realistic relationship potential.
You will never admit this because it’s very fucking embarrassing.
Returning to your hometown over Christmas is always going to be weird, single or not. There are faces you claim you don’t want to see, and yet you find your eyes darting around a pub you have illegally been drinking at since the age of 16 in hope that they’ve shown up. You will never admit this because it’s very fucking embarrassing.
What’s more, it is a paradox in which you can never triumph. If your paths never end up crossing you will be left unsatisfied, irritated that your new fraudulent smoking habit and understated (yet immaculate) thrifted outfit didn’t get the attention it deserved.
But seeing them is worse. It will most likely be when your Mum sends you out for some milk or when you fill up your car with petrol on a hangover. You will not look like the bad, unbothered icon of your self-obsessed mind. You have baked bean stains on your Superdry tracksuit bottoms from 2012 and have committed multiple crimes against fashion. You try and mask your crocks x Christmas socks combo by attempting to tuck your feet out of view. Your efforts are futile.
The truth is, even if you see the girl who was mean to you in year 8 or a guy who made you cry at a party at the best possible moment… strolling (in slow motion, naturally) with Jude Law on one arm and a Jacquemus bag on the other – it doesn’t matter. Anticipation has a tendency to set you up for defeat and when illusion is pitched against reality, disappointment is inevitable.
Bizarrely, it is always those who have treated us the worse and made us feel the most worthless that we feel the need to ‘prove wrong’ in some way. Perhaps we simply want to prove it to ourselves and demonstrate that we really have grown, or maybe we just deeply crave a Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman moment, ‘Big mistake. Big! Huge!’ – I know I definitely do. Either way, they definitely don’t care, and you shouldn’t either.
We just deeply crave a Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman moment, ‘Big mistake. Big! Huge!’
No matter how hard you try each year to return home at Christmas enlightened, you will probably end up in the same bar, consuming copious amounts of alcohol and chatting shit to everyone who crosses your path. Realistically, you will be gone after the festive period is over and so will the hazy memories of these bizarre few weeks.
So, take the pressure off yourself and actually try to relax, because no matter how much you think rides on these moments, the loser you are trying to impress have probably had 10 shots of Sambuca and won’t remember anyway… which is probably for the best for both of you.