It’s almost Thanksgiving break, and you know what that means: you get to sleep in your own bed for at least eight hours a night! You get to hang with friends that you haven’t seen in months. And the best part? You’ll probably have to awkwardly explain your relationship status to every adult within a five-mile radius! If you’re unlucky, this conversation will happen at the Thanksgiving dinner table, where you physically cannot escape. The thing is, adults don’t really understand dating in today’s world. Whether you’re doing long distance, have never had a S.O., or anything in between, it can be hard to DTR (define the relationship) in your own head, so how do you explain it to your entire extended family? Fear not, because I have a few ideas on how to approach the second most awkward “talk” of your life.
First and foremost, decide whether you actually want to have this discussion. If you are ready to potentially explain hookup culture to your grandparents, kudos! But you’re going to need a game plan. How in depth do you want to go with this? Are you just generalizing the concept, or making it personal? Are you going to be naming your partner, or keep their identity hidden? All of this is situational, and can be funny if you let it be. The best way to control the narrative is to decide beforehand exactly how much storytelling you feel like doing this year.
If you decide you want to break the news that there might be someone, but you don’t want to go any further than that, stand firm in your decision. If your nosy Aunt tries to pry, you say, “I’m sorry, I’m just not comfortable answering that question. Have you decided who you’re voting for next year?” Politics are a great distraction, as it casually reroutes from the topic of discussion; but prepare to watch chaos ensue. Another good way to keep people off your back is by turning the question towards someone else. It’s dirty, but it works. If you don’t feel like explaining any more about yourself, say, “Enough about me! [insert sibling name here] has much more exciting news to share in that department.” Even if they don’t, it stays on topic while simultaneously taking the heat off of you. Your sibling might kill you, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Lastly, if the idea of talking about your relationship status with your adult relatives makes you want to run all the way back to New Orleans, that is okay. I know I mentioned politics before, but you really can throw that in whenever in order to divert the conversation and turn the dinner table into a battle royale. Another thing you can do is play the guilt card. Your relative asks, “Are you dating anyone?” and you respond with a shrug and an, “I just don’t have time for that, college is really demanding. I mostly just sit inside and stare at my textbooks and wonder if I’ll be able to find a job that pays a liveable salary when I graduate.” The one slight contingency is that you are setting yourself up to be asked about college, which I understand is the last thing you’ll want to think about on your break. If you are not ready to explain your academic status at the moment, I probably wouldn’t even bring up schoolwork.
Regardless as to where you stand relationship-wise, Thanksgiving can be uncomfortable for everyone. Figuring out how to explain your relationship status with your family may even present the opportunity to self-reflect on your love life. If you feel like you can’t take pride in your decisions, take the time to reevaluate! Most of all, remember to relax, eat lots of stuffing, and get ready for your next big hurdle of the year: Finals!
Cover Photo: Bianca Falanga