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‘Tis the Season – To Break Up

Breaking up right before the holidays…

A few years ago, I was traveling home after the Thanksgiving holiday when I met a guy who looked exhausted.

“Families, right?” I said.

He shook his head. His girlfriend had broken up with him the night before he headed home for the holiday. He had spent the entire dinner staring off into space with a lump in his throat, while his relatives talked around him. The next day, he met two high school friends for drinks and they both told him that they’d just gotten engaged to their girlfriends.

So it was a long long weekend. He felt terrible because his girlfriend ended their relationship, and even worse because he was unable to be happy for his friends. The situation had left him feeling completely alone.

But actually, he wasn’t. This is the time of year when both breakups and engagements spike.

For many couples, the holidays offer a good time to inform friends and family they’re taking the relationship to the next level. If you know you’ll be getting the question, “When are you two getting married” it’s nice to be able to say, “August 15.”

But for those whose relationships are more tenuous, the time between now and Valentine’s Day brings a series of fraught decisions. Will you take your new love to the office holiday party? To your family dinner? Will you exchange gifts? And what kind of gift—a delicate piece of jewelry, or a coffee mug with a goofy cat picture? It’s no surprise that many couples call it quits.

As devastating as a pre-holiday breakup can feel, Leah Rose Emery writes in Bustle that, compared to the alternatives, Thanksgiving is a relatively merciful time to be set free. “Think about what comes after Thanksgiving. You’ve got Christmas and the other December holidays, you’ve got New Year’s, then it’s Valentine’s Day. When are you supposed to break up with someone during that whole period?” she writes.

As devastated as my young travel companion was, at least his ex wasn’t going to string him along until March. He could start the new year as a single person, and he’d be in good company. Breakup season is directly followed by dating season; from Dec. 26 to Feb. 14, sites like this one see their highest level of traffic.

A holiday breakup may leave you feeling alone, but the truth is there are many other people in the same situation. And by the end of next month, many of them will be ready to meet you.


its not you sara eckel

Sara Eckel is a personal coach and the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her questions here.