December 12, 2010

'Tis the Season... for Breakups

In the midst of joy and giving this time of year, the holiday season can also be an overwhelming and emotional time for many reasons: missing loved ones, tough economic times, and - according to anecdotal reports - this is also the time of year when couples who've been debating an inevitable breakup decide to cut the cord. There's so much stress around Christmas time that many relationships don't survive.

This time of year ranks as the top breakup season, followed by the stretch between Valentine's Day and Spring Break (mid-March).

British journalist and graphic designer David McCandless noticed the trend after analyzing 10,000 Facebook status updates over the course of a year and searched for terms indicating breakups. He found a huge surge in breakups between November 1st and Christmas.

Although McCandless' sample size was relatively small, relationship analysts agree with his findings. Bethany Marshall, a psychoanalyst who specializes in relationship issues, say, "People who are in bad relationships say: 'Do I really want to spend one more year with this person?'.... The holidays are like a litmus test; they expose what's really there in a relationship."

And what about the added pressure of announcing your breakup when everyone else is so busy wishing you a "Happy Holiday?" A recent edition of Miss Manners includes a letter from a reader whose husband recently left her and her children. The writer asks, "Should I mention our separation, or forthcoming divorce, in our holiday cards?" Oh dear! As if a forthcoming divorce weren't tough enough to deal with!

There are other ways to deal with holiday breakups and the normal holiday strain on relationships than immersing yourself in shopping frenzies or drowning your sorrows in eggnog. (In fact, the following bits of holiday "expert" advice could help us all avoid becoming grouchy Grinches during this time of year):

*Be nice to yourself.

*Reinvest in yourself.

*Reach out to others. Find solace in your friends and family.

*Keep holiday treats and alcohol to a minimum (overindulgence leaves you feeling sluggish)

*Give back. Many times, serving others can be the best way to forget about the misery in our own lives. Seek out a way to help those in need.


Unknown said...

I don't know if I would do a break up during Christmas. I think I would wait until after New Years.

Being alone, especially freshly alone, during Christmas and New Years can be really cruddy. It's almost better to be lonely but not alone during this time. (I know that sounds selfish, but what can I say).

I also think that a lot of unhealthy relationships start during this time of year for the reasons that I stated above.

Who knows.

Janice Salvador said...

Good advice, Tamara. I'm going through my first Holiday Season "post-breakup," and while it's not easy.. I have found that brightening someone else's day shines light on yours.

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