The holidays are like a pressure cooker for relationships—regardless of whether or not the unions are healthy. Between the gift-giving and the family get-togethers, many mini “tests” of romantic love happen between, oh, right now and the new year.
While the season of joy is counterintuitively tough on the happiest of couples, 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 the relationship, but you feel guilty about calling it quits given the timing. If this is the case, should you wait until after the holidays, so you don’t swiftly cancel all the festive couple plans—holiday parties, and family visits, and exchanging the presents you already purchased—on your mutual docket, right along with canceling the relationship itself?
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.” 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 from breakups during the holidays highlight why things absolutely should end. “Events and parties are just ways to bring people closer and closer, and making things more tangled,” she says.
I mean, does spending ample time with the family of 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 this is simply to sit down your S.O. and be honest (and definitely not over the phone or via text, Dr. Stubbs says). Explain your reasons for calling 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.
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