If you’ve ever gone through a soul-ravaging breakup, you know that there’s really no great time to do it. But there are specific times throughout the year when it’s more likely to happen to you based on data, anecdotal evidence — and maybe even science. Unfortunately, one of those periods is upon us. Yes, it’s “spring break(up)” season, baby.
About a decade ago, CNN put together a chart based on Facebook data collected by mining 10,000 Facebook status updates for the phrases “breakup” and “broken up.” There were two big spikes. One was right after Valentine’s Day, but the sharpest increase by far happened in the weeks that lead up to spring (which officially starts on March 19 this year). In the years since, publications from Cosmopolitan to The Independent have written posts about the imminent March heartbreak. Urban Dictionary agrees with this timing, although it expands the time range to summer. On one hand, it makes sense. If we’re going to have “cuffing season,” there obviously has to be an “uncuffing” period.
However, it’s pretty sad to think that our hearts are getting colder right when the weather is warming up.
I asked Danielle Forshee, PsyD, LCSW, a psychologist who does divorce and marriage counseling, why there seems to be such an uptick in breakups around March. “I have some theories, and they’re mostly based in science,” she told me.
There are fewer hours of sunlight in the winter, and Forshee explains that our brain is producing more melatonin — a hormone that regulates the sleeping and waking cycle — during this time. But with more exposure to sunlight in the spring, our bodies increase production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with improving mood.
“In the spring, we get this natural boost, and we’re feeling more energetic overall,” she says. “This also means we’re more aware of our partner’s more annoying patterns.” When people are feeling more down — like when it’s rainy and dark in the winter — they’re not totally checked in to what’s going on in their life, including who they’re dating. But as the snow melts and the days get longer, Forshee says people feel more motivated to tune in and make changes. Sometimes that means kicking their lover to the curb, or having a tough conversation about relationship troubles. “All of a sudden, we’re open to the idea: Let me get rid of this person who’s holding me back,” Forshee says. “We have the energy to address big things. For some people, hard conversations can lead to a stronger or healthier relationship, but it can also lead to a breakup, depending on the place you and your partner are in emotionally and mentally.”
In some cases, spring is the kick in the rear we need to get out of bad situations. So, with spring showers, come glowers at your S.O. — especially if they’re not treating you right.
If you’re the person being broken up with, that isn’t super comforting. But maybe this will be: Forshee says that, in some aspects, spring is one of the best times to get your heart smashed into a million shards.
“It’s a good time because friends who have been hibernating throughout winter are coming out and want to go out,” she says. “Social support is one of the healthiest things to have when you’re going through something like this, as well as having fun, laughing, and experiencing new things.”
So instead of sobbing into the sleeve of your winter coat, if you're the one who's dumped, you can use the spring and summer months to heal — hopefully while enjoying the weather on a rooftop in a sundress with an Aperol spritz in hand.