Why Breaking up With Someone Shouldn’t Wait for After the Holidays—Pandemic or Not

Photo: Getty Images/Cavan Images
The holidays can feel like a pressure cooker for relationships—regardless of whether or not a union in question is healthy. Between the gift-giving and family get-togethers or zooms, many mini “tests” of romantic love happen between, oh, right now and the New Year. And that's the case in a regular year, not the stress-laden landscape the pandemic has put us on.

While the season of joy can feel counterintuitively tough on the happiest of couples in the happiest of scenarios, if you’ve been unhappy in your a relationship for a bit, the holidays can feel even worse. Maybe you're ready to say goodbye to your pandemic turbo relationship, but you feel guilty about breaking up with someone given the timing. If this is the case, should you wait until after the holidays to call it quits, so you don't add emotional insult to an already less-than-stellar and totally tense holiday dynamic?

It does bear mentioning that this holiday season likely removes the pressure to have a date for a company holiday party or a companion at your uncle's dinner table because those things probably aren't happening. Even though the reality of this pandemic-era holiday season is that there isn't much by way of in-person plans, do you really want to be staring into Zoom happy-hour oblivion and working through a full slate of Hallmark movies alone? And do you want that for your current partner, even though you're not crazy about them anymore?

The answer, according to Megan Stubbs, EdD, a board-certified sexologist and relationship expert, is no. “I’m very pro rip-the-Band-Aid-off,” she says. “If you’re unhappy in the relationship, you’re only going to prolong things by waiting until after the holidays are over.” And that's true regardless of whether there's a pandemic. Obviously, certain variables can affect whether or not you choose to end a relationship, like what the issue actually is and how long you’ve been together. But Dr. Stubbs is clear: In the majority of these cases, it’s better to end things now instead of waiting, even though it's never easy breaking up with someone.

“If you’re unhappy in the relationship, you’re only going to prolong things by waiting until after the holidays are over.” —Megan Stubbs, EdD, sexologist and relationship expert

Dr. Stubbs points out that the very reasons people often shy away from breaking up with someone during the holidays highlight why things absolutely should end. I mean, does spending ample time with the person you plan to cut out of your life in a few weeks sound fun? Does it sound additive to your holiday plans, or relaxing, or mood-boosting in any way? Yeah, didn’t think so. That, Dr. Stubbs says, is why it’s better to get out now.

The best way to go about breaking up with someone during the holidays is simply to sit down together for a conversation and to lead with honesty. Explain your reasons for wanting to call it quits, and acknowledge that you're aware it's a hard time of year to process this kind of change—for both of you. Sure, it won't be an easy conversation, but hopefully it'll be authentic and save you both a certain amount of anguish you would have experienced while putting off the inevitable. Furthermore, allowing this person to move into the New Year without an unhappy partner (that's you) might just be the best gift you could give.

Originally published December 18, 2018; updated October 16, 2020

Loading More Posts...