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Breaking up is never ever easy. Even if you’re the one who wants to end things, ending a relationship seriously hurts, and when it happens over the holidays, it’s like a double whammy. Everyone’s in a joyful, happy mood and you’re understandably devastated. Plus, moving into the new year feeling isolated can be really challenging, especially if you and your ex-boo lived together or had a pet. Just when everyone else is starting fresh with their New Year’s resolutions, you’re trying to figure out how you can possibly move on. It’s tough stuff, but you CAN make it through and get back to your usual self. Here’s what you need to know about ending things this time of year and how to move forward ASAP.
1. Know that there’s a reason couples break up around the holidays. Julienne Derichs, licensed couples counselor with Couples Counseling Today in the Chicago-land area, says that the whole holiday season from November to January can be really stressful on romantic relationships. So stressful in fact, that it’s actually a pretty common time to break up. “During the holidays, there are often mounting demands on your time, high expectations, financial stress, poor diet and increased alcohol consumption, all of which can escalate the tension a couple feels,” she explains. It’s true that the stress of buying the perfect presents, attending a million holiday parties, figuring out how to get home for the holidays and where you’ll spend them can make even the smallest of disagreements seem huge. “The increased stress can lead to more conflict, fighting and flared emotions which can lead to a couple calling it quits in the heat of stress and anger,” explains Julienne.
Another reason many couples tap out during the holiday season? It’s a pretty normal time to ask yourself big questions like, “Do I want to spend the new year with this person?” or “Do I want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with them again?” Often, when the answer to these kinds of questions is no, breaking up seems more urgent and is less likely to get put off until later.
2. It feels harder to end a relationship around this time for a reason. Holidays bring up major feels for a lot of people. “We organize memories, good and bad, around a reoccurring event,” Julienne says. So if you end a relationship around a holiday, chances are you’re going to associate it with that holiday — for awhile at least. This association can make it much harder to enjoy any kind of festivities. “It can be worse than other times of the year because of this anniversary reaction. Maybe you feel sad around the holidays already because Grandpa was ill or passed away during the holidays or your mom always got depressed every Christmas. The feelings around the breakup are compounded by other strong feelings about the holidays,” she notes. Basically, it’s likely that you’ve got other holiday baggage going on, and if that’s the case, adding a breakup to the mix can make you feel a whole lot worse.
3. But it’s actually not the worst time to break up. While it usually feels terrible to separate from your S.O. no matter what, the holidays and right afterward are actually sort of a great time to be single, according to Julienne. We all know that being surrounded by friends and family is one of the best ways to move on from a painful breakup, and the holiday season usually gives us ample opportunity to do just that. “When I work with clients that have gone through a breakup, we work toward the concept of: Be kind, be compassionate, show empathy. Then lead your life and see who shows up,” she explains. So be kind to both yourself and those around you, and develop your current relationships and friendships with those who are there for you. “Use this time in your life to think about you and what you want or need in a relationship,” says Julienne. Her best advice is to do the things that you love and see who comes to the table to be with you. Then, cherish those people!
4. It’s also the perfect opp to make the new year all about you. Now is the best time to do something that your ex was never interested in, Julienne notes. Have you always wanted to start hitting the gym in the morning but they hated getting up early? Or finally get to see what it’s like to be a vegan since your ex declared they couldn’t possibly give up meat? Now’s the time to do whatever you want and feel great about it. So go ahead — do you.
Have you ever gone through a breakup during the holidays? How did you deal? Tell us about it @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)