The time of year has arrived once again! And no, it’s not just about the holidays—it’s the season when scrolling through social media means being bombarded with one engagement announcement after another.

The holidays can be a time of joy for many, but they can also bring chaos. While spending time with family you haven’t seen all year can be heartwarming, it can also lead to uncomfortable inquiries about your relationship status and other sensitive topics. It’s common to feel a bit uneasy during this time. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, the pressure of engagement season can feel overwhelming as it seems like everyone you know is getting engaged—and that’s perfectly normal.

Handling the pressures of engagement season, regardless of your relationship status or aspirations, isn’t always straightforward. However, with some introspection, it’s absolutely manageable. Here, we delve into strategies for navigating the stresses of engagement season and why it can be so challenging, no matter where you stand romantically.

1. Acknowledge Your Emotions

Feeling a mix of emotions, whether excitement, hope, sadness, or even envy, is completely natural. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to feel.

If You’re Feeling Happy for Others…

If you genuinely share in the joy of others, that’s wonderful! Embrace this by showing your support for the newly engaged couple. This can involve sending a gift, attending an engagement celebration, or simply taking a friend out to lunch to commemorate the occasion. However, make sure to check in with yourself honestly. Over time, your feelings may evolve, and it’s important to be genuine about your emotions.

If You’re Experiencing Jealousy or Sadness…

“Acknowledge these feelings without judgment, take a moment for yourself, and practice self-compassion,” advises Lily Womble, feminist dating coach and host of The Date Brazen podcast. Instead of being hard on yourself for feeling jealous or sad, offer self-kindness and support.

Tips for Validating Your Emotions:

  • Set aside time for self-reflection
  • Express your thoughts through journaling
  • Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your feelings
  • Reduce exposure to social media
  • Seek support from a therapist or trusted individual

Engagement season can bring various pressures, especially the feeling of not meeting expectations—whether they’re yours, your family’s, or society’s.

2. Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others

Comparing your life to those of others, whether friends, family, or strangers, can escalate pressure. This comparison trap can be countered by recognizing when you’re in its grasp.

Instead of thinking, “I’m happy for others, but when will it be my turn?” or “Engagement isn’t a priority for me—what will people think?” acknowledge your emotional state and remember that everyone’s journey is unique. “You’re the authority on your love life,” Lily emphasizes. “Respect that your timeline is your own and is right for you.” Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or somewhere in between, there’s no right or wrong time for relationships to evolve.

Don’t feel pressured to be an expert in your love life. Whether you’re navigating a breakup or unsure about your relationship goals, refrain from comparing yourself to others. Managing expectations is just as crucial as avoiding comparisons to maintain your inner peace.

Tips for Steering Clear of Comparisons:

  • Maintain a gratitude journal
  • Interrupt self-comparisons by reminding yourself of individual life paths
  • Stay present to avoid worrying excessively about the future

3. Establish Boundaries with Family

Engagement season coinciding with the holidays means extra vulnerability due to increased family time. If your family tends to ask probing questions, prepare by role-playing potential conversations before holiday gatherings, whether you’re single or in a relationship. This preparation equips you to respond honestly or set boundaries when questioned about your personal life.

“Have a discussion with your partner before the holidays if you’re in a relationship to plan how to handle sensitive inquiries from family,” recommends Leeanna Stockard, licensed marriage and family therapist at Life Stance Health. The same applies if you’re single. Before a family event, consider what you’re comfortable sharing with them. Confiding in a trusted family member or friend can help if you anticipate tough questions from loved ones.

It’s easy to feel frustrated by inquiries about your love life, but remember that these questions usually come from a place of genuine interest. Empower yourself by honestly stating, “I prefer not to discuss this.” Redirect the conversation toward a topic you’re comfortable exploring. You can’t control others’ curiosity, but you can control your responses.

Tips for Redirecting Conversations Away from Engagements:

  • If asked about your relationship status: “I’m focusing on other aspects of my life currently. Let’s talk about what’s exciting for me right now.”
  • When prompted about future engagement plans: “I’m taking things day by day. I’m optimistic about the future, but it’s not my focus at the moment.”

4. Communicate with Your Partner (and Yourself)

Whether or not you’re considering a proposal, use this time to connect with your partner or have a personal emotional check-in if you’re single. Instead of fixating on timelines, focus on discussing life goals, aspirations, and desires.

It’s essential to express your true feelings about engagement, whether it aligns with your relationship goals or not. Broaching this topic can be daunting, but it’s crucial for open and honest communication with your partner and yourself.

If you’re in a new relationship, it might not be the right time to discuss engagement. However, you can express your thoughts on it for the future. The aim is to show emotional honesty and encourage your partner to reciprocate.

Conversation Starters for Discussing Engagement:

  • How can I better support you considering the stress of this season?
  • How do you want to handle inquiries about our future together?
  • Express your support needs by saying, “I’m feeling [xyz]—here’s how you can help me.”

5. Be There for Your Friends

Most importantly, if your close friends or family members get engaged, make sure to support them. While there will be plenty of future opportunities to celebrate with loved ones, cherish these moments as they arise. Remember, the newly engaged couple is likely experiencing a range of emotions beyond excitement, so offer your support during the planning and decision-making phases.

After the initial proposal excitement diminishes, check in with your friends or family members to ask, “How can I assist you right now?” Engagement season can be challenging in various ways, so take solace in knowing that others share similar feelings and focus your emotions on supporting those close to you who are embarking on this journey.

Tips for Supporting Loved Ones during Engagement Season:

  • Express your excitement and support in personal interactions
  • Show your appreciation with a thoughtful gesture or treat
  • Ask how you can be there for them during this period
  • Engage with a therapist or empathetic friend to manage your emotions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *