From trips to Winter Wonderland to mistletoe kisses, the Christmas season can feel like it’s all about relationships.
If you’re single, a constant stream of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on top of an Instagram feed full of beanie-wearing, mulled-wine-sipping couples is enough to leave you feeling like an unwanted present.
But like Emma Watson, who recently declared she is happily “self-partnered”, more people are going solo this December.
As relationship expert Jo Barnett says, “Christmas is not the time to stress about finding a partner”.
Instead, Jo’s advice is to “embrace the position you’re in now, because this time next year you may be in a relationship”.
‘I’m scared of ice-skating’
“Dating at Christmas is expensive and there are so many other things going on”.
Daniel Barry is happily single. And he’s not alone – Radio 1 Newsbeat spoke to several people who are rejecting being part of a cosy couple.
Daniel says he’s quit online dating for “fear of going on dates over Christmas”.
“I’m going for the opposite of being loved-up at Christmas. I’m deliberately being single.”
“I came off dating apps in November when people were still trying to match with me, so I’m refusing to match them”.
Although he jokes, “I don’t think they’re going to be that gutted!”
The 27-year-old from Belfast is actively avoiding classic festive dates.
“Christmas markets are expensive and I’m terrified of ice skating. I don’t want to make a fool of myself while getting to know someone. I’m also scared of getting a finger chopped off!”
‘It’s nice to be selfish’
Hannah Domney’s been in a relationship for the past four years but split with her boyfriend in the summer.
This is the first festive season in years when she feels she can travel.
“I’m gonna beat being the miserable, lonely girl this Christmas and do everything I can to have fun.”
The 25-year-old hairdresser says she’s swapping a cold, family Christmas in Hull for Mexico.
“I’m flying to Tulum on Christmas Eve and I’m going to be spending the day on a beach with one of my best friends.”
“I’ve been gunning to get away at Christmas for quite a while and this is the first year I’ve got a real reason to not be at home”.
As opposed to feeling lonely during December, Hannah’s looking forward to January.
“My old boss always used to say, ‘everybody breaks up before Christmas so they don’t have the stress of families and presents, it’s in the new year that everyone feels the romance’ – so I’m living for that!”
She’s also looking forward to putting herself first.
“When you’re in a relationship, you have to think about your partner’s presents and making their family feel loved too – it’s nice to be selfish”.
‘I’m buying myself a ring’
Nicky Murphy is relieved he doesn’t have to juggle two families.
The 33-year-old tells Newsbeat: “When I’ve been in relationships, my boyfriends tended to live in separate countries. At Christmas, I always leave London to go home to Ireland, so it can be difficult splitting your time”.
“I’m really close to my mam and nanny and I’m aware they’re getting older, so Christmas with them will always take priority over a relationship.”
Nicky’s also excited about planning a stress-free start to 2020.
“Being single means there’s less pressure on New Year’s Eve. In previous relationships, I’ve been expected to do what my partner wanted to do with his friends as opposed to what I would like to do”.
And it’s not as if he’ll be missing out on gifts.
“I always buy myself the present I’d buy for a boyfriend.”
“I’ve had my eye on a ring for a while – I was feeling guilty about spending a few hundred quid on myself but coming up to Christmas, I feel I can buy it!”
‘This season’s gonna get extra festive’
Some people can’t think of anything worse than the office Christmas party, but it’s one of the things Jyoty Singh is looking forward to the most this December.
The London-based DJ, 28, tells Newsbeat: “I’ve done some Black Friday shopping and there are some spicy Christmas dresses in my basket”.
For the past three Christmases, Jyoty has had a boyfriend but this year she’s single and looking forward to flirting.
“This season is gonna get extra festive because at all these parties I can wander around looking like a little Christmas present, ready to be unwrapped this year.”
She’s also happy to be saving money.
“Now I’m not dating I get out of buying my partner presents and buying over-priced mulled wine at Christmas markets. I’d rather have a few drinks at home with my girlfriends”.
Although Jyoty is Sikh and doesn’t celebrate Christmas, she “loves the season and the spirit”.
“On Christmas Day, I can easily put on a festive film like Love Actually and it doesn’t make me sad because I’m such a romantic.”
“I just think ‘how cute’. While I know that people out there are experiencing that love right now, I know I’ll experience it in the future”.
It’s something Hannah agrees with.
“I’ve never experienced a Christmas film-style romance in real life, so the fantasy feeling of it still makes me feel warm inside.”
Daniel, on the other hand, is just happy to have some peace and quiet.
“I’m smug. I can happily watch Love Actually on my own and not have anyone bothering me.”
New Year, new lover?
Dating coach Jo Barnett, who is single herself, says anyone who isn’t feeling so positive about their single status should forget December dates and wait till the new year.
“January is a fantastic time to meet someone.”
“It’s a fresh start and a lot of people will be excited. Towards the end of the year people are tired and, sadly, a lot of people become single at Christmas, so there are more options in the new year”.
Jo thinks the best way to meet a partner is to “get out”.
“There are so many dating apps, but I recommend going to speed dating nights and parties – meet people face to face.”
But if online dating is more your thing, she says “choose one or two apps and be patient, it doesn’t happen straight away.”
So, it seems it’s single bells (sorry) all the way… until January at least.