Breaking up over the holidays? What a terrible thing to do! Terrible, yes, but often necessary. Ending a relationship is always difficult, and in almost any breakup, no time seems like a good one to pass on the news. The holiday season – when people are expected to be happy and joyous and to shower one another with gifts – can often be the straw that breaks a relationship’s back…
For couples, the romantic pressure can be intense. If that romance and happiness isn’t truly felt, then staying together just for the sake of the holidays can feel dishonest and a breakup may be the best course in the long run .
If you have to end it during the season of peace, love and joy, there are ways to do it gracefully. It’s not going to be painless for either party, but by preparing yourself and doing your best to preserve your dignity and your partner’s, you can get through it.
- Arrange for a time when you know you won’t be disturbed and a quiet place to meet. Do not choose a public place. Respect your partner’s dignity by meeting with them in a location where they can be free to express their emotions.
- Let your partner know ahead of time there is something important you want to talk about, so they’ll be able to psychologically prepare.
- It’s good to begin with or include the positives of the relationship. Let your partner know what their good qualities are and how being with them has enriched your life.
- Don’t play the blame game. When explaining your reasons for breaking it off, try to phrase the issues in terms of what your needs are as opposed to what your partner lacks or hasn’t done. Hopefully, you will already have discussed these issues, so they won’t come as a total surprise to the other person.
- In the same vein, take responsibility for your own shortcomings. Perhaps point out that you need time to work on them as well.
- Being a good listener will help you immensely during this difficult moment. Expect that there will be strong emotions and possibly even accusations. Try not to react (after all, you’re the one who is doing the breaking up). Just listen.
- Accept that you may not be able to make things right with your partner in one sitting. It’s good to set a time limit beforehand, so that you don’t get sucked into an all-nighter, but be open to further conversations down the line.
- Consider in advance whether you yourself will need extra support, and what kind of support that would be.
- Although you may be breaking off the relationship, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are henceforward cutting off all contact with your ex. If you’ve been seeing someone for a relatively short time, it may take just one more short conversation. If there are possessions to split, it could take weeks. And if there are children involved, it could take many months or even years.
- In addition, because it’s the holiday season, your ex may still feel the need to speak with you after the split to work through things. Let compassion be your guide during this sensitive time. It’s important to be open to some continued contact, but try to keep a time limit on conversations. While you want to do your best to help your partner move on, you have to move on, too.
We certainly hope a breakup is not on your wish-list this holiday season, but if it is, strength tempered with respect and kindness are the qualities that will sustain you and, hopefully, allow both you and your ex a fresh start in the New Year.
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