A wedding proposal is hand drawn in the snow last month at Central Park in… (Reuters )
On New Year's Day, I spent hours fielding calls and texts from friends. Not because they were interested in hearing about my night out or wishing me a happy New Year. No, instead they wouldn't leave me alone because all of them—specifically the single ones—wanted to talk about how it seems that everyone, just everyone, is in love and engaged. And I could only agree.
Since roughly Halloween, I have felt that the universe is playing some mean trick on us single people. It seems like each day, as the temperatures keep plummeting, another person announces his or her engagement on Facebook. And the passing of marriage equality in Illinois definitely hasn't helped.
(Note: I admit this trend isn't so much the universe's mean trick as it is the fact that more than 33 percent of engagements take place between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, according to weddingwire.com.)
Toward the end of November I was doing fine. I would even "like" some of the photos and congratulate the happy soon-to-be-married couples. But as Engagement Month (aka December) wore on, it got snowy, I stayed single, and the cold wasn't all that was bitter in Chicago.
There are some theories out there as to why the cold months bring on the relationships and engagements. Some believe in hibernation, meaning that just like other mammals we as humans begin to look for someone to help keep us warm as a way of survival when it becomes cold. Then of course there is the theory of "cuffing season"—the time of year we find someone just to get us through the most indoorsy of months, and only those months. Others argue that the holidays usher in a desire to bring someone home so you can stop evading the "So, when are you going to settle down?" questions from nosy relatives.
But with all this love and these engagements floating around my social media networks, I am left to question: Does all this love actually stay or, like snow, does it just melt away?
Well, according to data compiled in 2008 by edivorcepapers.com, it melts. The website reported that January is the month with the highest divorce rate in the U.S., which sort of makes it Christmas for divorce lawyers each year. (Hm, I don't see anyone posting about THIS on Facebook!)
Some cite too much time cooped up with their partners as an explanation. Others look to the pressures that rise after meeting a partner's family. Then there are those who blame lack of money due to the holidays as a contributor for breakups, which makes sense—dating can be expensive.
It seems no matter how you look at it, winter is all about couples. Whether it's engagements or breakups, these damn couples just won't let us single people sit here in the cold with our cookie dough and Netflix all by our lonesome.
Whether you're experiencing Facebook engagement fatigue, angry about a breakup or just bummed because Chicago is now colder than the South Pole, bitterness seems to be that one thing all singles have in common this time of year.
It's time we all just embrace the bitter and focus on the fact that summer is almost here. (And by "almost," I mean five or six months away.) I hear there is this whole world outside of Facebook that isn't defined by "likes" and status updates. But that could just be a rumor.
Zach Stafford is a RedEye special contributor.
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