Single? So what?

Splitting up with someone is never easy, and it’s even worse when it happens during the festive season. ARETHA LOH shows you how to handle it.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Splitting up with someone is never easy, and it’s even worse when it happens during the festive season. ARETHA LOH shows you how to handle it.

Photos Showbit.Com & 123rf
Photos Showbit.Com & 123rf

It’s the season of giving and receiving, the season to be jolly, happy and loveydovey... but is it really?

Well, not exactly. According to a recent study by London-based data journalists David McCandless and Lee Byron, who collated relationship information from status updates on Facebook, the most popular time for a break-up is two weeks before Yuletide.

Violet Lim, CEO of dating app LunchClick and co-founder of dating agency Lunch Actually, also shares that she has noticed “a peak in the number of singles enquiring about and signing up for events from Christmas up until Valentine’s Day.”

And as if that’s not harsh enough, people these days tend to part ways electronically. Ouch.

While a break-up sucks no matter when it happens, being suddenly single in December adds a cruel sting to the sorrow, no thanks to all the romantic expectations attached to the month (we’re talking films like The Holiday and Love Actually). “It’s not so much that you’re doing December solo; it’s more about the shock and disappointment of not having a special someone to spend this period with, as you’d initially expected,” explains Anoushka Beh, psychologist, relationship therapist and director of Abehpsych Counselling Services Singapore (

That said, you don’t have to hide away in your room crying with a vat of chocolate in hand. Rather, hold your head high and get right on out there. Here’s how to boost your confidence, maintain your cool and keep on going between the wobbly moments.

Pick yourself up Your ex may regret letting you go some day, but he’s made his decision for now. So pull yourself together and get through the initial pain. Here’s how.

Start anew, now
If thinking about your ex triggers depressing thoughts, take action to shut him out of your mind. “Block him or hide his feed on Instagram and Facebook,” says Anoushka, who also suggests that you avoid places where you’re likely to bump into him.

Practise positive self-talk
Oh, those pesky negative voices in your head will speak up (“Nobody loves me”, “I might wind up alone”), but ignore them. Reaffirming your strengths can dispel the negative feelings you’re dealing with post-break- up. Anoushka’s suggestion: remind yourself of one thing about yourself that you’re proud of – it could be your ability to make friends or your secret cake recipe that everyone raves about – and think about it for a minute; do this three times a day. If you can’t think of anything, ask a close friend or family member to list your strengths and repeat them to yourself.

Get moving
Start exercising daily. Go for a yoga class or take your dog for a short walk – the nature of the physical activity doesn’t really matter. The point is to get out of the house and get moving. Exercising triggers the release of “happy” chemicals such as dopamine, which makes you feel better almost instantly, says Anoushka.

Face the world (read: family and mutual friends) bravely With more socialising on the agenda than usual, you’ll possibly find yourself in more potentially sticky situations. Here’s how to deal.

Sticky issue #1: You’re cornered by nosy relatives who don’t know about your break-up – cue lots of awkward questions such as “So when’s the wedding?” and “Why isn’t he here?” Don’t panic In the face of such an “attack”, just say honestly that you’re not ready to discuss the relationship. You don’t have to make the announcement that you’ve broken up if you don’t feel ready, says Violet.

She adds that it’s important that you sort out and be comfortable with your feelings before breaking the news to those closest to you – such as your parents and trustworthy relatives, who’ll be supportive and won’t spread gossip. Then, once you’re ready to let the rest of the clan know, ask them to pass along the message – it’ll let you off the hook.

Sticky issue #2: You and your ex are ushered under the mistletoe by mutual friends who are clearly oblivious to your situation.

Don’t panic Smile politely and decline. Violet suggests distracting the crowd by pointing out another couple. To play it totally safe, skip all mutual gatherings if you can.

Sticky issue #3: You’d agreed to attend his aunt’s Christmas party pre-break-up. But that means spending time with him and his family – not something you want to do right now.

Don’t panic Wendy Tse, founder of and head matchmaker at local matchmaking service, Society W, says it’s best to just make an excuse and not show up. If you’ve already bought presents for his relatives, just drop them off at the venue and leave. Better still, keep them for your own family members, who truly love you.

Sticky issue #4: This is the worst of the worst: you bump into your ex and he’s with another woman – already!

Don’t panic You can say hello, but only if you’re cool with it. “If you feel angry or anxious, it’s perfectly fine to look the other way and escape quickly,” says Anoushka.

Don’t lose your mojo You may have just gone through a break-up, but you shouldn’t lose your confidence with the opposite sex.

Be friendly... at parties, especially with people you don’t know so you can make new friends. But do not “get drunk, talk extra loudly or behave like a wild child,” says Wendy. “No one takes the wild woman seriously.”

Get the conversation started with questions such as... “What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?” and “What are you looking forward to this week?” They work so much better at breaking the ice than the usual “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?”, says Violet.

Gauge his interest in you... by looking into his eyes. Violet says that eye contact is one of the easiest ways to tell if a man’s interested. If he’s maintaining eye contact during the conversation despite a commotion going on elsewhere, you know he’s interested in you.

Make the first move... by simply smiling or walking past the guy you’ve got your eye on, says Wendy. If he wants to be friends, he’ll come over.

Stay positive and be forward-looking Just think of all the fun you can now have. It’s all about YOU.

• No man means no present required. Spend on yourself!
• Skip the parties and opt for a pampering spa session or luxurious staycation (friend optional).
• No guy to compliment you? Ask your friends to write you Christmas cards, 10-things-theylove- about-you style.
• If you’ve got nothing planned on Dec 9 and 15, consider Lunch Actually’s Singles’ Mingles Party and Eagles Networking Party respectively; e-mail for more details. Or, befriend other singles on and