With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's time to gear up for food, family, and more food. For anyone who's flying solo this year, quality time with the fam might also mean dodging questions about your personal life that you'd rather not answer between mouthfuls of turkey. Depending on your family dynamic, navigating the holidays as a single person can get very awkward, very fast. So, if you're tired of being caught off-guard when your family asks why you're "still" single on Thanksgiving, you certainly aren't alone. Whether it's your well-intentioned parents, or that nosey uncle who can't take a hint, let's face it: Being put on the spot about your relationship status (especially in a group setting) is far from pleasant.
According to prominent LA-based couples' therapist Dr. Gary Brown, it's normal to feel uncomfortable talking about your dating life in front of your family. "There are any number of reasons why singles feel awkward when family members ask about your relationship status over the holidays, or any other time for that matter," Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily. "For some, it is difficult to open up in a group setting. You may have one or two family members who you feel comfortable with, but not the entire family."
Even though there's absolutely nothing negative about being single, it can be easy for some people to feel a little insecure about it, especially if you're actively looking for a serious relationship but haven't found the right person yet. If this is the case, opening up about your dating life might also bring up complicated emotions you aren't keen on sharing with the distant cousin you only see twice a year. However, your personal feelings about singledom likely won't keep people from asking you tough questions. If you're worried about getting tongue-tied in the moment, keeping some responses in mind may help.
Dr. Brown recommends emphasizing to your family that you're being selective about who you start your next relationship with. "You can simply say that you learned a great deal from the last relationship about what you want and don't want in a relationship, and are waiting to meet someone who you are more compatible with," he says. If you're enjoying your freedom and aren't actively looking for anything serious, don't be afraid to be honest. "Say that you are happily single and when you meet the right person, you would be more than happy to bring them home to meet your family," explains Dr. Brown.
If you've recently gone through a breakup, or even just ended a fling that didn't work out the way you'd hoped, it's also OK to politely shut down the conversation. "Be direct and let them know that you'd rather not discuss it," says Dr. Brown. "This may be especially true if you've recently ended a relationship and are still in pain about it." Sometimes, family members don't want to take "no" for an answer. Even if they mean well, if they persist, it's important to realize that you're not required to share the intimate details of your personal life. As an adult, you're entitled to your privacy, so don't be afraid to stand your ground when Aunt Betty starts getting pushy.
Dr. Brown also notes that people who frequently struggle to open up to family or friends about the things going on in their personal lives might be dealing with some trust issues themselves. Dr. Brown says to ask yourself: "Do you feel unsafe talking about intimate personal details of your life in general, or just with your family?" When trust issues are causing you to close off from others, it might be helpful to try being vulnerable with a family member who you feel close to, even if it's hard. "Perhaps let them know that at some point you may want to talk about it, but now is just not a good time," suggests Dr. Brown. "This leaves the door open to connect with them later, and that is usually a good tone to set."
But of course, there is a difference between having issues with opening up to people, and just not wanting to open up to too many prying eyes. Only you can really know which situation applies to you. Ultimately, the most important thing to remember when dealing with curious family members is that you never have to share more than you'd like to. Making your boundaries clear in a respectful way might be tricky, but it's also necessary. No matter how distraught your sweet grandma may be about the fact that you're "still single," with all due respect, it's your business, and your business only.