Lucy Holden: ‘All I want for Christmas? Hygge with an ex’

·3-min read
 (Matt Writtle)
(Matt Writtle)

Since a fortnight ago, when I suggested venturing out into the cold December nights, intrepid as Ranulph Fiennes, for a first date, everyone seems to have gone to a Christmas party and caught Covid.

I’m glad I didn’t take my own advice. I’d decided, the weekend after giving it, to just pick one of the new dalliances I’d spent time with and hunker down, saving the exhaustion, expense and potential Omicron risked by serial dating.

“Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree for me,” I sang to The Pianist I’d been on my last good first date with. “What’s a sable?” he asked. “No-one knows,” I told him. “You make me feel schmaltzy,” he grinned.

We began at the lido he’d wanted to take me to, reed-woven penguins looking on as he donned goggles and submerged into the bubbling depths of a hot-tub. “I’m pretending I’m on an alien planet,” he said when he reappeared. Did I mention he was younger? That’s completely new to me but let me assure you he’s 28, not 12 as the quote may suggest. “To be fair, dating does often feel like an alien planet,” I replied.

Three weeks into knowing each other there was a festive weekend away, a ​Michelin star restaurant and mulled wine. We even had pet names: Hop and Leek, the latter mine, both private jokes from dinners and aimless wandering through festive streets. It felt odd to have submerged myself in something a bit more committed after two years being (very) single. Not entirely unpleasant but a little alien. “Let’s have a go on the goggles?” I asked him, trying not to overthink.

Yet ‘tis the season as much for exes as for new mistletoe romance and a few weeks ago I went for an it’s-almost-Christmas-jaunt with one of mine. Because she is still one of my best mates, we get away with it in a way heterosexual exes would not (people assume we’ve always just been friends), but the trip to a 16th-century inn called The Merry Harriers in Hambledon was very Surrey-Hills-hygge indeed.

Nothing other than friendship occurred in the snug shepherd’s hut we stayed in, but it was so nice after all the first dates of the last three months to be with someone who actually, really, deep-down knew me.

It was so nice after all the first dates of the last three months to be with someone who actually, really, deep-down knew me

I think that’s why we still covet ex-communications at this time of year, to feel known as another year comes to an end. Over two-thirds of us dread Christmas single and that tempts a third of us to text an ex to avoid it, according to dating app Badoo. Yet cuffing season has become nuffing season, with most of us wanting less-committed flings.

“Are you going to dump me in January?” asked The Pianist. I wasn’t sure. What I was sure of was that it was really helpful — when towing a llama that didn’t want to be walked through cold fields with my ex — for her to take one look at me and understand I was way, way too hungover to carry on.

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