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How to dodge relationship questions over the holidays

relationship questions heart on knitted background
Photo cred: pashapixel/Getty Images

Holiday season is upon us. How did that happen so quickly? Pretty soon, I’ll be flying across the country to spend Thanksgiving in Texas with my family. I love getting to see my family, but sometimes their well-intentioned relationship questioning feels redundant.

If I’m single:

“Are you dating anyone?”

“Is there anyone special in your life?”

Or the more direct:

“When are you going to find a man and settle down?” (OK, we don’t have to go in on all the problems with that one.)

If I’m in a relationship, the questions are only slightly different:

“Are you two getting serious?”

“Do you think you’ll get engaged?”

“Is this one the one?”

But this year is going to be different. Because this year, I’m bringing my Gravity Blanket to Thanksgiving dinner instead of a boyfriend.

If you’re not familiar with the Gravity Blanket, it’s a weighted blanket (between 15-25 pounds) that claims to reduce stress and anxiety while improving sleep and your overall well-being. And, for all you cuddlers out there, they “are engineered to be 7-12% of your body weight to relax the nervous system by simulating the feeling of being held or hugged.”

So, yes, I’ll be taking that to Thanksgiving dinner, thank you.

When the conversation gets dicey, boom! I’m going to bury myself under my Gravity Blanket until my anxiety melts away. When I’m feeling lonely because I don’t have a partner to snuggle up next to in a food coma, boom! I’m going to let my Gravity Blanket hold me. (And my Gravity Blanket won’t complain that it’s getting too hot and roll away from me.)

Don’t have a Gravity Blanket to bury yourself under during triggering holiday conversation?

Beth Livingston, LMSW therapist at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, has a few other ideas for you.

MORE: Holiday mental health: 8 things experts want you to say ‘no’ to this year

First of all, manage your expectations

“Holiday behavior is no different than everyday behavior; it’s usually ramped up,” says Livingston.

If you have an uncle who is always prying aggressively into your personal life, don’t expect him to magically be a different person this year. He’ll most likely still pry. So expect that.

Less is more

“There are cultural expectations that are really triggering to the person who’s either not interested in meeting or not meeting those cultural expectations,” she says.

When engaging in tricky conversation, you don’t have to explain all of your reasoning behind every decision you’ve made.

“You can be in the background,” says Livingston. “You don’t have to participate on other people’s terms.”

Or, if you prefer to be the center of attention, but just don’t want to talk about your dating life (or whatever issue is particularly not fun to chat about right now), then Livingston suggests controlling the content.

“It’s like an interview,” she says. “If you’re being interviewed in the media, you follow the same rules: Slow it down, think carefully, be prepared, and know that you’re in charge of controlling the content.”

She also suggests thinking about some other personal topics ahead of time that you are excited to talk about. Maybe you just got out of a relationship and that’s a sore topic for you, but maybe you’ve been working on a new project or you’re planning a fun trip for the new year that you’d enjoy talking about.

Or maybe you just want to talk about how you deleted Bumble forever and bought a $249 weighted blanket instead and think it’s one of the better decisions you’ve made so far in life.

Whatever it is that you’re excited to talk about, Livingston suggests you approach the Thanksgiving table conversation with an attitude of hope instead of dread.

MORE: 5 ways gratitude can save your holidays

“Try to catch someone doing something right. Maybe give your family or whoever is around the table the opportunity to get it right,” she says. “They might surprise you.”

And if all else fails, I’ve got a 15-pound blanket waiting to sink me into a deep, cuddly sleep at the end of it all.

Looking for a new hobby that’ll help you combat those relationship questions? Cozy up near the fire and learn how to crochet in just 12 minutes.

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