Breaking Up Right Before the Holidays

Last week I saw a sign on the door of a chic, new NYC restaurant that read, "Book Your Holiday Party Now!"

It's that time of year again and shopping for presents isn't the only thing that the sign brings to mind. You may have a relationship that may not make it through October let alone to New Year's Eve.

If you’re in a relationship that is having major problems, the pre-holiday season is not always the best time to analyze what you need to do. The pre-season rush brings a dreamlike quality to couples. Even with all the stress and rush of the season, even when you know somewhere deep within yourself that you need to make a change and leave the relationship, there is a spot in your heart that begins to feel a sadness that you as a couple are in trouble. You begin to look at the other person and endow him or her with qualities they may not really have. Maybe they’re not so bad; maybe we can salvage “us” as a couple. Perhaps we’re just going through a bad time. What you're really thinking is, "Oh God I don't want to be alone during the holiday season!"

It isn’t reality; it’s all the holiday music, traditions, the peace on earth, good will to all, and the nth broadcast of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” that is clouding the practical side of your brain!

The holidays bring a false hope to a relationship that both partners already know, and grudgingly acknowledge, is over. But...the pleasantries of the season make you think that perhaps, just perhaps, you are being a bit hasty in ending the relationship. Looking at the other person with eyes misted by “visions of sugar plums” and holiday spirit, (both kinds), you start thinking that a second or even third chance at staying together might be worth the effort.

More couples stay together from October to January than at any other time of the year. The thought of not being alone pre and post holiday when “everyone is with someone” is one reason.

Another is the fact that we second guess our best judgment about why we considered breaking up in the first place. In the spirit of the season, we make promises to ourselves we have no intention of keeping. It's a new year resolution in October and it rarely helps keep an unhappy couple together. We are still left with the same problems and situations that caused us to question the relationship in the first place.  

According to David McCandless and Lee Byron, who created the Peak Break-Up Times chart, we are entering the year's second highest break-up time, second only to spring and summer romances. Couples begin to feel a sense of not being where they should be emotionally with a partner. You want out but you don't want to be alone. Many choose to drag the relationship along for a few more months and that, with all the unreality of the holidays, makes for frustration and anger. The bottom line is that if you're in a relationship right now that you know isn't the one that will last or even the one you enjoy, you have to either "bear the burden" for the following months or take the loss, be alone for the holidays, and end it as soon as possible.

Holidays are like being a guest at a wedding. You are dressed beautifully, surrounded by pretty gifts, and wonderful things to eat. For that one day, everything is perfect. The next day, however you find that the magic hasn’t lasted; you’re back to your imperfect life wearing ordinary clothes and eating hamburger.

As a lifestyle and relationship writer I am baffled as to the best answer. I have stayed in a miserable relationship simply to have an available date for the holidays and I have taken the attitude to 'bite the bullet and end it', and forced myself to attend holiday functions alone or with friends.

I'd love to hear from you on how to handle this issue. Your comments will be featured in this column November 14th. Many thanks!

© 2012 copyright Kristen Houghton all rights reserved.


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And don't forget to check out other articles Kristen Houghton has written exclusively for twoday magazine:

     The Perils of Living Together

     Safety Tips For Women Traveling Alone

Books by Kristen Houghton:

No Woman Diets Alone - There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut

And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First 

Remember, Hetty? (A Short Story)

Nourishing Thoughts: The Little Book of Sayings for a Healthy, Happy Life

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