The holidays might be the most wonderful time of the year, but if you're in an unhappy relationship during this season, it can turn you from Buddy the Elf to the Grinch in no time flat. Going through a breakup during the holidays is never fun, and there's no one right answer as to whether it's better to get it over with beforehand or wait until the dust settles in the New Year. Personally, I'm all for the pre-holiday breakup: all the good vibes this time of year and the time spent with loved ones can actually exacerbate any relationship-dooming issues you and your partner might be having.
"The holidays are already so mired in inauthentic, expectation-laden frustration that adding just one more broken piece of it — a relationship that is not working — only makes it worse," Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist, professor and author, tells Bustle. "The forced revelry, the gift giving, the pressures and role expectations are tough for a couple that is doing well — but for a couple that is on the outs, it can take a difficult time of year and make it worse."
It might be a tough pill to swallow, but breaking up before the holidays could save you and your soon-to-be-ex a ton of grief. If you're in a relationship that's reached its end, here are eight reasons why you should bite the bullet and break up before breaking out the mistletoe.
1. You'll Both Feel Better If You're Honest
The older I get, the more I realize that honesty is almost always the best policy — even though it can sometimes be difficult or painful. "In general, it is healthier and more honest to break up with your significant other before the holidays rather than after them if you have already decided to end the relationship," Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based psychologist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. "To spend the holidays together and then break up can seem misleading, manipulative, selfish or weak to the other person and can actually make the breakup even more painful."
2. Your Holiday Will Be More Meaningful
Simply put, it will be uncomfortable and sad for you (and your partner) should you pretend to be invested during the holiday season, only to break up shortly thereafter. Plus, staying in a basically-over relationship will taint the holidays with sour memories instead of fun, love-filled ones. "Being in a miserable pre-breakup relationship during the holidays is a lot worse than breaking up and moving on," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "People who avoid holiday breakups because they don’t want the extra drama around the holiday season should think twice. As unpleasant as a breakup is, celebrating meaningfully is hard to do with someone who you are ready to break up with, or who is ready to break up with you."
3. You'll Save Money
It might sound petty, but it's true. Year-round, but particularly around the holidays, being in a relationship can be expensive — and saving money is just an added bonus of breaking up before the holidays. "Save yourself the big bucks you’d spend on presents for your partner by breaking up before the holidays," Masini says. "When you each buy expensive gifts — at worst, engraved gifts! — when you know a break up is on the horizon, you’ve wasted money and a good gift!"
4. Your Support System Will Be By Your Side
Although no one wants to mope around during the holidays, there's really no better time to go through something like a breakup, because your support system will conveniently be right there with you to help you through. "You both may be hurting during the holidays, but there are many events where you can find comfort from those close to you," Rhonda Milrad, founder and chief relationship advisor of Relationup, tells Bustle. "You won’t be alone and isolated and can get the support that you need." Trust me: when you're having a tough time, an IRL hug will feel infinitely more comforting than any series of emojis.
5. It's Easier For Your Families
Hanging out with your partner's fam can be awkward, even if you and your partner are more in love than ever. But toss in a soon-to-be-breakup, and you'll feel stranger than ever just by being around your families. "It will feel awkward to hang with either your family or your partner’s family, exchange gifts and pretend that everything is fine," Milrad says. "In fact, it can cause more embarrassment for your partner when both of you have to explain the breakup to your respective family members in the aftermath."
6. You'll Avoid Further Bonding
Whether you mean it to or not, there's a good chance that any time spent with your partner over the holidays will strengthen your bond, making your impending breakup that much more difficult. "If you are certain your partner is not the one, it’s better to break up before the holidays to avoid deeper attachment and bonding," Fran Walfish, leading couples relationship and family psychologist in Beverly Hills, tells Bustle. "The holidays bring family and friends together and [a] warm feeling of unity. When you join your partner in the festivities there is an implied message that [you] are a 'couple.' It’s not fair to fuel another person’s fantasies and wishes if you know for sure you’re on your way out."
7. The Romantic Atmosphere Might Cloud Your Judgment
If you enter the holiday season coupled up (however reluctantly), there's a chance that all the Christmas cheer and lovey-dovey feelings might temporarily distort your mental picture of what your relationship is like. "The holidays can often create a false romanticism," Durvasula says. "All that mistletoe and lights and gift-giving and rosy-cheeked alcohol buzzes can sometimes haze up the picture a bit, and you may simply just start having the same arguments again January 1."
8. You Can Start Fresh With The New Year
It might not sound fun or traditionally romantic, but kicking off the New Year without a midnight kiss could be exactly what you need to start off on the right foot in 2017. "Instead of beginning the New Year with a breakup, you are beginning it having already dealt with ending your relationship," Milrad says. "You can put your energy into self-care, get yourself grounded and centered, and take action on your 2017 goals."
No matter when you choose to end your relationship, the best way to get over a breakup is to focus on yourself and your future. There's no shame in being single, and you'll have more time to spend on things you care about — which is a surefire way to make sure your 2017 is better and brighter, even if you're flying solo.