Here's how to deal when relationships go chilly during the holidays
This story was originally published on December 17, 2014.
Breakups suck, no matter the time of year. The holiday season, though, has its own magical way of making a rough patch feel unbearable. Blame the twinkly lights and mistletoe and happy, hand-holding couples—whatever the reason, if you're not totally sold on your S.O., it can suddenly become tempting to cut ties and finish out the year alone.
If you're worried about looking cruel or hurting the other person, don't be, says Sofi Papamarko of Friend of a Friend Matchmaking in Toronto. "Obviously, it's insensitive to dump someone on Christmas day or New Year's Eve," she says. "Same goes for Valentine's Day, their birthday, or the day they put down their cat." Still, she explains, "it's silly and even a little bit cruel to stay with someone for longer than you should just because of the impending holidays.” Plus, if you happen to be living together, “breaking up prior to the holiday season might be a good thing—it'll give you time to abandon your shared space for your familial homes and let you figure out next steps.”
If you’re out-and-out unsure about whether it’s time to break up, do what you’d do at any other time of year: Talk about your concerns with your partner. Sure, those state-of-the-union discussions can be uncomfortable, but they're worth it for clarity’s sake (for both of you). “If you feel like your relationship has hit a plateau or needs your attention, have an open conversation about it," advises Marni Battista, a dating coach from Dating With Dignity. "There's no need to stay in a relationship that isn't right for you. But, if it feels worth it, put the time and energy into it—holiday season or not."
What about those couples who know they're unhappy, yet stick it out until the new year anyway? It could be that a lackluster relationship seems more appealing than tackling the holidays solo. “It's definitely never easy being the only single cousin at a holiday gathering teeming with husbands, wives, partners, and babies—raise your hand if you're in your 30s and still sit at the kids' table!” Papamarko adds. A few years ago, Leann, 30, was in “a pretty crappy seven-month relationship” with her then-boyfriend, Jeff. “Right before the holidays, I was really doubting the relationship and had one foot out the door,” she recalls. Still, she opted to stay with her way-less-than-perfect partner rather than brave another cold Christmas on her own. “Before I met him, I had been single for years, and I remembered how lonely I had been,” she explains. “So, I ended up waiting to dump Jeff until after the holiday madness died down. I guess I just felt like I needed someone to help me get through it.”
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