Last week, I had a conversation with a young woman who shared with me how much she pretty much loathes this time of the year; although she did admit that it wasn't always that way. It's been the past three years when she has pretty much given Thanksgiving through Valentine's Day a symbolic middle finger.
"I just hate not having someone around the holidays," she said with a long Waiting to Exhale-like sigh.
At the risk of sounding like a corny PBS segment, can you guess what my response was? "Girl, you do have somebody—yourself. Problem is, single folks aren't encouraged to see all of the good that can come out of making the holidays be all about them instead of about being in a relationship with someone else."
I get that, between the mistletoe, fireplaces and marriage proposals, not having a boo might feel like a cosmic trick or some triggering b.s., but I promise that if you choose to alter your perspective, just a little bit, Christmas through New Year's doesn't have to be something to sleep right through. It can actually be kinda dope—if you simply choose for it to be.
Shellie, how I am supposed to do that? I'm so glad that you asked, sis.
First, Remember That Singleness ALWAYS Has Its Perks
Have you ever wondered why this time of year seems to be when so many folks are boo'ed up? Yes, a part of it has to do with cuffing season (chiiiiiile), but apparently it's also the time of year when couples get engaged the most. Yep, December is the most popular month for marriage proposals. With that, all of the romantic Christmas flicks that are in heavy rotation, and our relatives asking us, like clockwork, when we're finally gonna bring somebody home—yes, I get it if, deep down, you feel some type of way about being single this time of year.
But every coin has its flip side and if you check out articles like "10 Bona Fide Benefits Of Being Single", "How To Own The Power Of Your Single Season", "If You're Not In Love With Being Single, Ask Yourself These 6 Questions", "It's Okay to Be Single" and "10 Words That'll Make You Totally Rethink The Word 'Single'"—they all just might remind you that singleness has some real perks and pluses too. If those pieces still don't "scratch the itch", ask some of your married aunties to share with you what they miss about their single days.
Trust me, a (healthy) relationship is a beautiful thing, but it also comes with making compromises and sacrifices that we single ladies don't have to even worry about; things that auntie reminisces on in the midst of frying turkeys and getting your uncle yet another sweater that he's never going to wear.
Reconnect—with a Purpose
So, here's a peek into my present private life. About a week ago, on a "fluke" (meaning, I ran into his cousin and we exchanged numbers that way), I reconnected with my first love. Y'all don't have the time and I don't have the energy to get into how deep the saga goes. But long story short, after almost four hours on the phone and a dinner to follow, a table full of married white women got me out of the nostalgia of walking down memory lane with my ex. It wasn't that I wanted to get back with him; that ship has sailed. But we always seem to have an inexplicable connection; one that, if one lady in particular (shout out to Page) didn't say, "If you're not gonna pursue Shellie, what are you doing here?", our chatting probably would've gone on for six months rather than one night. (Thanks Page!)
Moral to the story—there's something about the holiday season that tends to make us more open to taking walks down memory lane and reconnecting with folks. It makes sense; just enter with caution, though. If there is not a real point and purpose to hitting up a blast from the past or even having dinner with a former friend, why are you doing it? Just to have something to do? Yeah, that's not even close to being a good enough reason because your time is way too valuable. Real talk, if you can't find five good reasons for why he/she/they should be a part of your future, leave them as ghosts from Christmas's past. Before you end up being haunted in an Italian restaurant parking lot like I was. SMDH.
Limit Your “Christmastime Chick Flick” Consumption
There are trials; then there are manufactured trials. What's the difference? The first are things that happen to us, sometimes whether we can control it or not. Then there are things that we do to make life more difficult. Buying shoes instead of paying rent on time? That's a manufactured trial. Getting into arguments with toxic family members? That's a manufactured trial. And spending hours of your time off crying while watching chick flicks and screaming out "Why God why?" and "When God when?"—that's a manufactured trial too.
If you know that you are triggered by the romance of this time of year, why would you keep hurting your own feelings by surrounding yourself with nothing but reminders that…you are triggered by the romance of this time of the year? Minus the fact that they don't have nearly enough Black folks on their channel (side-eye), I enjoy a Hallmark Christmas movie as much as the next gal. But I'm not gonna watch one every single day. There's more to life—and entertainment—than kissing under the mistletoe. Right about now, those are words to live by. Why not go to a movie, listen to a podcast or read a book instead?
Drink. With Wisdom.
So, according to Alcohol.org, while drinking does have a tendency to make us feel, at least temporarily happy, that's not the only emotion that it causes. It can also make us feel nostalgic, creative, anxious, overwhelmed, surprised, sad and scared (and horny; not sure why the article didn't mention that). You know what all of this boils down too, right? Having a little spiked eggnog or a Grinch drink might seem like a fun and festive thing to do, but if it's gonna result in you drunk dialing a former sex partner or worry one of your friends to death as you're crying non-stop on the phone about how horny you are (I've been there; without the alcohol), maybe you should push the glass back. Or at least not consume a ton of your alcoholic fave. Hot chocolate is delicious too. And if you go that route instead, you can trust that whatever it is you're feeling, it's all you—not the alcohol that's speaking (and acting up) for you.
Hang Around SUPPORTIVE People (Family or Otherwise)
Just yesterday, I was having a premarital counseling session with a newly engaged couple. As the soon-to-be-husband was asking me about what I thought one of the biggest mistakes that married couples make is, I said, "Knowing what their partner's triggers are and then continuing to push them." Not only is it disrespectful, it's an effective way to get your spouse to build up all kinds of ways in order to emotionally protect themselves.
I know you're not married, but where I am going with that is this—something else that can make the holiday season extra trying on your spirit is if you continue to put yourself around toxic energy. You know, people who gaslight you, narcissistic parents, envious and/or opportunistic individuals (whether they are family members or not). I know not all of us have the kind of personality that can leave, 15 minutes into dinner, if someone gets out of line, without giving it a second thought. At the same time, don't volunteer to be a martyr by spending all day long, several days at a time, around individuals who emotionally drain you, harp on your dating or baby status or don't make you feel esteemed as an individual.
People who are supportive are sympathetic, encouraging and helpful. If you're not catching those kinds of vibes, politely dismiss yourself so that you can get around those who are on a totally different vibration level.
Create a “Salute Yourself” Calendar
I'm pretty sure you've got at least a couple of off days coming, right? On one of them, pick up a 2020 calendar and then give it a "salute yourself" theme. What do I mean by that? Salute means "to address with expressions of goodwill, respect, etc." If ANYONE needs to be doing that for you…it's you. Jot down things, every month, that you plan to do that will boost your self-esteem, remind you to be kind to your being and to pamper yourself too.
Then get a big ole' jar. Listen, when it comes to married folks, I encourage them to have sex jars. When it comes to single women, they need to have a pamper one. Every time that you reach a goal, dodge a relational bullet or make a decision that benefits your mind, body and/or spirit (check out "Need To Make A Big Decision Quickly? Do This." and "If You Want To Get To The Root Of Things, Try My One-Word Test"), put some money in the jar. It can be fifty dollars or fifty cents. Then, at the end of the year, spend what you've accumulated on something that's all about spoiling yourself. I'm telling you, I speak from personal experience when I say that, the more you focus on celebrating your singleness, the less you'll be caught up in feeling some type of way about actually being single.
Go to a Hotel for a Night
Back when I was doing a significant amount of touring, the folks I would travel with would get pretty irritated with me. Why? Because while they wanted to take in the sights, I preferred to order room service and chill in my hotel bed. I must admit that while hotel beds are best when shared, I have some very fond memories of kicking it in them alone too.
That's why, I highly recommend that you book a night in one before New Year's. Go to a hotel in your city (or the next one) that you've always been curious about. It will provide a change of scenery, it will make you feel pampered, plus—there's something about lying up in a hotel bed for hours on end that has no guilt attached to it. You can sleep, eat, watch television—then rinse and repeat. Shoot, if you can find a hotel that offers in-room massages and facials, that's even better!
Take Some Sort of Social Media Fast
You're not going to be able to fully embrace all that comes with having some time off work if you are still plugged in to the good, bad and sometimes super-duper ugly of what's happening on the internet. So please take at least 48 hours off to do anything but clap back on Twitter or peep in to see what your ex is up to. There are all kinds of mental and psychological benefits that come from putting your smartphone down. Why not use that time instead to journal (even sex journal), write yourself a love letter or—here's a thought—do absolutely nothing?
One thing about social media is, although things are constantly happening, most of it isn't going anywhere. Like a soap opera (to a certain extent, there's a pun that's totally intended here), you can miss a week, come back and pick back up where you left off. Test that theory by spending some much-needed time away. You might be surprised by how little I exaggerated.
Do What Makes YOU Happy on NYE
Don't let the tube fool you. Although it might look like everyone and their great-grandma is out on New Year's Eve, a survey from a couple of years ago revealed that only about 11 percent of individuals actually party on that night. 45 percent prefer to hang with family, 24 percent stay at home and seven percent do something with their friends. So no, you don't have to feel like you're taking an L if you don't go out to watch some ball drop somewhere or if someone doesn't slob you down at midnight. It is perfectly fine to have sleepover with some other single friends or to even ring in the new year while soaking in your bathtub.
Many people believe that the way you exit one year speaks volumes to how the next year will go. Although I'll not even remotely superstitious, that has been the case for me for the past few years. So, don't call it a night at eight so that you can sleep New Year's Eve away. Instead, plan something that will set the tone for 2020. Then watch how the Universe responds to your effort.
Treat Your Own Damn Self
Do you wish that you were receiving a diamond this Christmas? Buy yourself a piece of jewelry. Are you hot about not being able to go to a romantic resort? Go on a weekend road trip. Wish you were cuddling in bed with someone? Get yourself some new bedding (in the meantime). One of the best things about being single, yes even during this time of year, is that you/we have the awesome pleasure of being our top priority. Short of being a single mom, you can buy for yourself—FIRST. You can do what you want without having to explain yourself (unless you want to). You can totally make this a season of real self-indulgence—unapologetically so.
So, don't dread being single over the holidays—relish in it. Someday you may look back and wish that you had. Don't say a sistah didn't warn you.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Here's How To Know You're At Total Peace With Yourself
What It Means To Find True Self-Love
Sanaa Lathan Wants You To Know She's Her Own Knight In Shining Armor
What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like
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- What To Do When Single On Valentine's Day - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- How To Spend Christmas Alone, Ideas - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 15 Ways Single Women Can Enjoy Valentine's Day - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Nelly And Ashanti Are Giving It Another Shot? Here's What You Should Know About 'Ex Reconciliation'
Okay, so if you’ve read any of my pop culture think pieces on this platform before (like here or here), you already know that I don’t tend to spend a lot of time talking like I know people who I actually…don’t. As someone who grew up in an entertainment industry home and then got my (official) start in journalism in the entertainment realm as well — let me just tell you from very up close and personal experience that nothing is a smoke-and-mirrors game quite like the celebrity world. That’s why it’s wise to not invest too deeply into it/them.
At the same time, since, for better or for worse, we do live in a culture that seems to be constantly consumed with what famous folks are doing. What I prefer to do is use certain news stories (even if they are basically nothing more than tabloid gossip, depending on the day) as personal teachable moments — and since the word on the street is saying that Nelly and Ashanti are giving it another go, I thought that topic would be a great one to tackle.
My personal recollection of them being together consists of my finding Ashanti’s visual for her single “Good Good” (damn, was that 2008?!) to be cute enough. Plus, I liked how they mostly kept everything off the grid — unlike the other relatively reunited (and does it feel so good? I can’t tell because Ben always looks so irritated) couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, chile). Anyway, beyond that, and then reading some timeline pieces on Nelly and Ashanti (a recent one is located here), there’s not much more that I can say as far as their coupledom goes.
Ashanti and Nelly during Sean Diddy Combs First Fragrance Launch for Unforgivable - After PartyJohnny Nunez/WireImage
However, when I did happen to catch a roughly hour-long Instagram post (here) on Ashanti’s page a few months ago talking about how (among other things) she used to want six kids, and now she’ll “settle for” two or three, I took that to be a subtext that she’s ready to get into something serious/substantial — and sometimes that can mean reconciling with someone from your past.
It’s kind of like a point that was made by Alec Baldwin’s character in the movieIt’s Complicated (paraphrased): “Some people should get back together 10 years after a divorce because the time apart can help each person to grow. And since you already know your ex so well, reuniting later could be the best decision ever.”
Nelly and Ashanti reportedly broke up ten years ago, so maybe they are life-imitating art. Either way, before you use them as inspiration (or ammo — LOL) to get back with someone from your own past, please ask yourself the following questions. Then be serious about the answers. Then run them by a trusted friend (or your therapist). And then, if it all checks out, proceed with extreme wisdom and logic. Because getting back with an ex is a bit like a crap shoot — it can be a real blessing or a HUGE mistake. That’s why factoring as much as possible beforehand is such a wise thing to do.
Why Did the Two of You Break-Up?Giphy
I recently got certified (and soon to be credentialed) to be a professional certified coach (a holistic one). It’s interesting because, when you’re actually learning from an ICF-accredited school, a question that actually isn’t asked in life coaching is “Why?” Why is that? Because while therapy/counseling tends to focus on the past quite a bit, life coaching specializes in asking questions that will empower you to decide what is best for your future.
In this case, though, you definitely need to take your past into account because if you don’t factor in why you broke up with your ex in the first place, it could result in you just repeating the same ish that you did before — and if that ish is centered around things like abuse (neglect is abuse, by the way), constant lying or being taken for granted, you really need to do some serious vetting to see if those things are still a present-day issue.
And yes, this is a critical point to consider because, while some people live by the motto “forward ever, backward never” or my personal favorite, “getting back with an ex is like getting out of the shower and putting the same underwear on,” not every break-up is horrific or even devastating. Sometimes it really is a matter of meeting the right person at the wrong time or the two of you really liking each other, but something just doesn’t quite “click.”
You know, it is Benjamin Franklin who once said, “All highly competent people continually search for ways to keep learning, growing, and improving. They do that by asking WHY.” And since, hopefully, you’ve been learning, growing, and improving as an individual, ever since you ended things with your ex, asking yourself why you broke up and being really honest about the answer, that can help you to see WHY you should consider trying again or WHY the past should totally be left there.
What Lessons Did You Learn? During and Since Ending the Relationship?Giphy
Everyone is a lesson. That is, if you’re humble enough to know how to be taught anything (some of y’all will catch that later). And just so we’re all on the same page when it comes to this particular point, a lesson is a practical piece of wisdom, and wisdom is something that offers insight and heightens your sense of discernment. In other words, if it’s truly a lesson — and you apply it — there will be no reason to repeat it; your insight and discernment won’t let you.
So, when it comes to your ex, what lessons did they teach you? One of mine taught me to not convince myself to be with someone just because they are a good person. Another taught me to not "be a wife" to someone who is not my literal husband (check out "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife"). Still, another taught me to stop mistaking nostalgia for actual love (more on that in just a bit). The first and second lessons I learned during the relationship. The last I learned after. And because the lessons were so profound, they totally altered my way of thinking — which makes getting back together with any of those guys basically an impossibility. Wisdom won't let me.
On the other hand, I have a friend who is kinda-sorta back with one of her exes because the lesson that she learned during the relationship was because she had never been in love before, she kept playing the exhausting game of come-close-go-away. Now that she's had some therapy (and matured a bit), she and her ex are in a far better place which makes it easier to interact with one another on another level. Is it just like it was before? No. In many ways, it's better because, since my friend has less anxiety, there is less stress on the relational dynamic, which makes them able to see where things could go a lot easier for both of them.
I am a firm believer that life is one big school. Thing is, when it comes to the lessons that you need to learn, you can stay in the same class for 20 years, if need be. So yeah, when it comes to pondering about getting back with your ex, did the lessons that you already learn reveal to you that it would be a smart move or a really dumb decision?
Who Reached Back Out First? (Yes, It Is Valid)Giphy
Typically, the "Who did it first?" question leans on the side of silly and/or petty and/or entitled to me. Oh, but not in this case. And although words cannot express how disgusted I am with how Brian McKnight is displaying extremely poor (fellow) Gemini energy, he is a great songwriter, and his song with the hook, "Do I ever cross your mind? Anytime?" — let me just say that an ex who says they never think about their exes from time to time they are a bold-faced liar.
HOWEVER, that doesn't mean that they care enough to reach out or that it's a good idea, even if they're tempted to do so. So, when someone actually does step out and send an email, get in the DMs, or leave a voicemail (your ex still has your phone number? Interesting), that's quite telling — although you do need to take into serious account what it all actually means.
For instance, back when my first book came out, a few of the characters (pun intended and not intended) hit me up. One was my first love. All he really did was send me an email to tell me that he read the book and that he was sorry for the role that he played in the pain of the relationship. And that he would always love me.
Now guess what part I focused on? You can check out "Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour" to get the gist of that. As a result, for several more years, off and on, that continued to be all that my heart (the Bible says the heart is deceitful; always remember that — Jeremiah 17:9-10) honed in on. That man didn't say that he wanted to rekindle anything. He said that he wanted to apologize. Lawd, how much we can spare ourselves if we'd just learn to listen to what is being said instead of editing conversations into what we want to hear.
So, did he reach out first? Yep. Did he want anything? Not really. And from personal experience, that’s why “who reached out first and why” is something else that needs to be given some serious thought. After all, the two of you broke up for a reason…so, if they do reach back out, now more than ever, it’s important to take their words literally. If he only wants to see if you’re well, let him know that you are and leave it there. If he wants to apologize, accept this apology and tell him to take care. If he asks to see you — now that’s when trying to figure out if reconnecting, on any level, is actually a good idea.
Bottom line here don’t make something be what it’s not. Oh, and if you are the one who reaches out first…let me just say that I know a woman who got ghosted by an ex back in college, she decided to reach back out to him some 20 years later, and all they’ve been doing is dating for over ten years now (even though she wants to be married). I mean…he didn’t come looking for her; she went out looking for him — which kind of translates to me that he was fine whether they spoke again or not.
See what I mean? *Elmo shrug*
Is It Love? Or Nostalgia?Giphy
Please, please, PLEASE — if you don't get anything else from this article, get this: just like fleeting passion can be mistaken for lasting love, so can nostalgia; the definition of the word explains a lot of the reason why, too: "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations."
You know, the mind is a funny thing. "Funny" in the sense that, if you lean into nostalgia, it typically will edit out all of the crappy stuff while encouraging you to focus solely on the good times. For instance, I know a woman right now who got back into something with an ex who was sending her all kinds of expensive shoes and random flowers for the first few months…just like before. Now? Now he's calling her when he's tipsy to vent about his ex-wife.
How did she get caught up in this pattern? Good ole' nostalgia, chile. Initially, reconnecting included discussing fun dates and good sex. Yet, nostalgia is kind of like a drug — it gets you really high, yet sooner or later, you're gonna crash…and that can have you feeling super low.
You know, there's not one ex who I don't have a myriad of good memories of. Yet when I bring logic, common sense, and facts into the dynamic, they all needed to be exes — and honestly should stay just that way. Just because I "love" certain things about them, that doesn't mean that I'm actually still in love with them…and why let the former cause me to overlook the latter?
Pleasant thoughts are fine. They aren't enough to go off of to rekindle a relationship, though. You are far too precious. So is your time. This brings me to the next point.
Time Is Precious: How Would Reconciling Make the Most of Yours?Giphy
It actually wasn't too long ago that I penned the piece, "Let's Finally 'Spring Clean' ALL Of Our Exes Out Of Our Lives, Shall We?" for the site. One of the things that I mentioned in it is there is something known as recycling (making something new without changing its original form), and then there's something known as upcycling (taking an original thing and changing it into something totally different; typically something better). That said, if you are thinking about getting back with an ex, I recommend that you determine if it's going to be an UPCYCLE for you. Otherwise, really…why do it?
Something that I oftentimes tell people in their 20s is it really is time out for acting like that decade is nothing more than being in the 2.0 version of your teens. In other words, if you don't make wise decisions, then, you can end up wasting a lot of time. And then you'll need even more time trying to heal and recover from it all.
Personally, that's one of the things that I mourn about a lot of the moves that I made back then; I had to spend a significant amount of my 30s healing so that, should I ever decide to marry a man, I will be the helpmate that he truly deserves. And that's another reason why I'm good on my exes — I don't have another decade to throw away.
And for those of you who may struggle with taking personal accountability and so you like to romanticize your poor choices by saying things like, "Nothing is a waste of time," — no offense, but that is a damn lie. Waste literally means "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return; use to no avail or profit; squander," and yes — it is quite possible (and easier than most people think) to involve yourself in something (or with someone) without getting an adequate return…in return.
When one of my surrogate mothers passed away of cancer in her late 50s several years ago, one of the last things that she said to me on her hospice bed was, "It goes by sooner than you think," and I have always kept that in the forefront of my mind. As I get older, I find myself saying, "Where does the time go?" more and more.
An ex coming back into your life could potentially be an awesome thing. "Awesome" if the two of you aren't going to be a waste of each other's time. Again, use the definition of the word as a barometer. Be honest with yourself as you do.
This Time, Be Friends First (or Again)Giphy
I've been in the couples counseling game for a long time now. And if there's one thing that a lot of married and divorced people have told me, it's that they wish they had spent more time trying to cultivate a friendship with their spouse than a relationship — because when the foundation of something is unstable, the house will eventually crumble on some level.
And this brings us back to Nelly and Ashanti — they seemed to last for a good amount of time by keeping things private the first go around, so if they are indeed reconciling, I'm not sure why they would switch up the formula now. Either way, I hope that they and you will make friendship the top priority. Why? Because the best things come out of friendships. The healthiest relationships are included.
When it comes to you and your journey, please check out articles I've penned, like "10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect From Your Friendships," "7 Signs Your Friendship...Actually Isn't One," "10 Signs You've Got A Close (TOXIC) Friend," "Ever Wonder If A Friend Is Just...Not That Into You?" and definitely "Self BFF: 7 Signs You're Your Own Best Friend." Because if you are thinking about getting back with an ex, the least that the two of you need to be towards each other is hella loyal, honest with each other, and respectful of each other's feelings, needs, and even a few wants. No relationship can thrive without those things intact and every healthy friendship consists of those "ingredients."
And you won't (fully) know if any of this is the case if you're quick to jump into bed or rush into a relationship without seeing how you are as friends…first.
You know, reconcile is a really interesting word. On the one hand, it can mean "to cause (a person) to accept or be resigned to something not desired." On the other hand, it can mean things like "to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable" and "to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent." And with those definitions in mind, that's what you should focus on most of all.
- Is your ex willing to "win you over" by how they (now) treat you? Are you willing to do the same?
- Would being with them bring more or less harmony into your life?
- How compatible were you before, and how compatible do you seem to be now (sans the nostalgia)?
I will never say that getting back with an ex is a good or bad idea, full stop. I'll just say that if you're going back to your past, make sure it benefits your future. Otherwise, leave it right where it's at: nothing that your present needs beyond a scroll and a click…if that much, sis.
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