Should You Wait Until After Christmas To Break Up With Your Partner?

Breakups are the worst, no matter the time of year. The festive season, though, has its own unique way of making a relationship rough patch feel even more unbearable. Blame the twinkly lights, the mistletoe, the happy hand-holding couples — whatever the reason, if you're not totally sold on your partner, it can suddenly become tempting to cut ties and finish out the year alone. But is it bad to break up with someone during the Christmas holidays?
If you’re out-and-out unsure about whether it’s time to break up, the first step is to 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."
Sometimes, though, the problems start mounting and you can really feel the ship begin to sink. What then? Read on for expert advice on breaking up during the festive season, as well as experiences from people who’ve been there.

Can the holidays make relationships feel worse?

Regardless of the state of your relationship, be aware that certain holiday traditions can heighten tensions. The stress of Christmas can even bring problems to couples who were nowhere near a breakup beforehand.
Take spending money on gifts and travel for example. When Amelia, age 29, was in her first year of university, she attempted to stay with her secondary school boyfriend. But, by the time they reunited in December, "a semester's worth of excruciatingly expensive travel to see each other had taken its toll," she tells Refinery29. (That, and the fact that they were both hooking up with other people.)
On New Year's Eve, her boyfriend decided to "surprise" her by tailgating her at 3 a.m. in a car she didn't recognise, and then professing his love for her in her mother's driveway. "I was so distraught by what I thought was a near-kidnapping-and/or-death experience that I broke up with him on the spot," Amelia recalls. "Even if that hadn't been the reason for our split, though, dumping him was definitely the right call."
Another seasonal stressor on relationships is family. You might imagine the drama of introducing your partner to your Uncle Jerry and the rest of your extended family and think, Ugh, is it even worth it? Family strife can tax even the happiest of couples — so if your relationship is on the rocks, it can lead to total chaos. Danielle, 23, has been with her boyfriend for a year and a half. She's happy, but her parents "have explicitly told me he’s not up to par,” she tells Refinery29. He's still deciding whether he should visit her family for Christmas. "I have mixed feelings about it, too," she says.
Danielle is willing to tough it out, but for Sarah, age 28, the effort just wasn't worth it: "My partner and I were already having issues when the holidays came last year, but the thing that broke up our relationship right before Christmas was the stress of him meeting my parents for the first time. I grew up in an evangelical household and he was basically a left-wing activist type... dealing with all the tension was the nail in the coffin for us."

Is it better to wait until the new year to break up?

There are plenty of people in couples who know they're unhappy, yet stick it out until after Christmas 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!” dating expert Sofi Papamarko of Friend of a Friend Matchmaking in Toronto says.
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 tells Refinery29. 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.”
However, while there is definitely comfort in staying with someone through the Christmas holidays, Battista and Papamarko agree that dragging a relationship that isn’t working over the finish line and into the new year for the sake of preserving the festive season won’t do anyone any good in the long run.

Should you break up with someone during the festive period?

If you feel stuck in your relationship and decide it’s time to walk, be sensitive, but follow your gut. “Gracefully ending your relationship is the same at any time of year,” says Battista. Be kind and respectful but direct, and try not to put the blame on your partner. “And, for the love of Kris Kringle,” Papamarko continues, "do not dump anyone over email while they're home for the holidays. Not that I speak from experience or anything.”
And if you're worried about looking cruel or hurting the other person, don't be. "Obviously, it's insensitive to dump someone on Christmas Day or New Year's Eve," Papamarko says. "Same goes for Valentine's Day, their birthday or the day they put down their cat." 
Still, Papamarko continues, "it's silly and even a little bit cruel to stay with someone for longer than you should just because of the impending holidays.” Not to mention, 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.”
One big upside to going it alone for the festive season is that it’s a great time of year to meet someone new. Office parties, tree-trimming gatherings and New Year’s Eve nights-on-the-town all present ample opportunities for mingling with potential new dates. “If you're not in the right relationship or your current casual partner isn't cutting it, nip it in the bud and send yourself to the next party you get invited to,” suggests Battista.
All in all, festive season breakups — like all splits — are tough, and the reasons behind them are subjective and personal. Just keep in mind that sometimes, the best thing you can give your partner (and yourself) is the truth.
This article was originally published in December 2014 and has since been updated.

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