A Single’s Survival Guide to Chinese New Year

by ⁨Elsa Lim|26-01-2022
Tips to feel better

Chinese New Year, the most dreaded time of the year is here. As a single person, you cringe when you think of all the relatives you have to visit. The aunties and uncles who never fail to ask the same old questions: Are you married? Have you found a boyfriend/girlfriend? Where do you work? How much are you earning now?

You try to force a smile. You’ve just lost your job. Your boyfriend has dumped you for another woman. And you’re struggling to pay your bills. Before you could say anything, your cousin arrives with great fanfare. With her investment banker husband. In her spanking new BMW. You never felt more alone, more unworthy, more ignored and more unloved. 

Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year are festive occasions that seem to unleash a wave of self-pity and ‘Status Anxiety’ in singles. As a single myself, I’ve learnt to battle the arrows of self-pity and even enjoy Chinese New Year on my own terms. Here are my survival tips:

Don’t leave the country

It’s very tempting to escape. This is a bad idea. Firstly, you’ll be paying through your nose – the price of airfares and hotels are all inflated during Chinese New Year. Most places in Asia would either be very crowded or very empty. Shops may be closed. Restaurants will be crowded and expensive. And you will feel even lonelier.

Just Show Up

Visiting your relatives is like visiting the dentist. The pain is only momentary. In truth, your busy body uncle or aunty loves a full house. They love having you around. Perhaps they ask you those pesky questions about your job and marital status because they can’t think of anything else to ask. They hardly see you. They feel old, lonely and just as ignored and unloved as you! Chinese New Year is the only time they feel that they are seen, respected and recognised. 

Answer Questions with Questions

If you don’t like your relatives’ insensitive questions, give them a short answer and quickly hit them with another question. Say “Aunty, if I get married, you’ll be the first to know. ..how is Ah Boy?” People are always delighted to talk about themselves and their lives. To feel less lonely, take the focus off yourself and put your focus on them. Learn to emulate Oprah Winfrey – be a seasoned question asker and expert listener. Pretty soon, no one will remember what you did for a living – they’ll remember you as a warm and caring person.

Ask and You will Receive

Even with no relatives to visit or no close family members to hang out with, you can still enjoy your Chinese New Year reunion dinner. I would say to my friends, “I’m open for adoption!” I’m always amazed by the warm response I get. Without fail, friends would invite me to their homes for their reunion dinners with their families. I no longer have to ask. 

Inevitably, someone would invite me to their feast.  Don’t be afraid to tell the world that you are alone but not lonely. Open yourself to receive others’ generosity.

Organise a Singles Chinese New Year

Singlehood in Singapore is rising. There are many divorcees, never-married, recently separated and recently widowed among your acquaintances. There are also foreigners, newly arrived, with no idea of what to do during the holidays. You can organise a potluck party, a movie or Netflix watching session. Beat loneliness by being the one who reaches out. 

Exercise, Rest and Relax

Why not think of Chinese New Year as a time to rest and relax? To read that novel, run in the park, try a new recipe or do the things you’ve been too lazy to do? (Yes, including ironing your clothes!). Holidays need not be exciting, colourful or full of activity. We have been brainwashed by advertising to think that way – so that we can spend more money on travel, clothes, dining out and celebration.  No, you’re not missing out if you have none of these things. 

My wish for singles? May all of you have a perfectly mundane Chinese New Year. And feel perfectly refreshed!


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