Love letters from Ana: Nagging Family

There’s nothing better than going home for the holidays, and Thanksgiving is just the start of the holiday season for American college students. It’s the teaser for the main attraction. It is just a taste of all the home cooked meals you’ll be eating come mid-December. Thanksgiving also often means family reunions, whether they are welcome or not. This means the inevitability of distant relatives questioning the decisions of your love life. Here are a few ideas on how to cope with the nagging determination of prying relatives.

The one thing you may come to understand is that our elders, grandparents, great uncles and aunts, will most likely never understand the concept of just being friends with the opposite sex. “What do you mean he’s just your friend? You mean he’s your boyfriend right?” No, Aunt Sophie, I don’t. It’s okay to explain being platonic with your relationships to them. Don’t get frustrated, because it literally was not a concept when they were young. Eventually, I’ve come to find that this concept of male-female friendship becomes a sort of fascination to them. They’ll want to know more, but be prepared that they may still call this person your boyfriend/girlfriend from here on.

The one question the both guys and girls get is the prompting of an explanation of being single. “Have you found the one yet? You know, your grandmother and I met in college…” College women probably get this more than men because there has always been this larger emphasis on women to mate for life than men. Regardless, you may find yourself defending your singlehood this holiday season, or grabbing the bottle of vino next to you and chugging it down. It should be a source of empowerment to tell your family that you’re single, not a source of shame. Why would it be? In fact, it can sometimes feel good to challenge their expectations. You can say something like, “Yes, I’m single, no, I’m not looking. I’m not ready to commit to anyone yet.” You will be amazed how good this feels to say especially compared to your cousin (we all have one) who has never been single in her life. It’s like a small pat on your shoulder for being able to be independent.

Finally, there’s the constant questioning of sexual choices. First of all, never feel the need to explain any of these to your family unless you are personally compelled to.  If a family member condescendingly asks you how the situation is with the person you’re hooking up with or went to a formal with, feel free to push it under the rug. It’s okay. Sometimes no information is good information. If you like to shock, or overshare, like I do, then you can be explicit and honest knowing that their question was there to warrant an honest response. At times, the honesty can again feel empowering, “No, Uncle Tony, she and I are an open relationship. It’s casual. We can basically sleep with other people.” Hey, we’re just educating them on modern relationships here. That’s the young person’s purpose at dinner parties, right? To shock, disappoint, entertain, gossip, etc. Wouldn’t you want to know what the new sex craze will be in 2050? Of course. Cut ‘emsome slack, folks, and happy holidays.

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