Why Do So Many Couples Split During The Holidays?

by Liz Newman

Not to add a negative spin to a classic Christmas song, but here it goes: "It's the most wonderful tiiiiime of the year — for breakups!" Even if you very likely have no idea why it happened. I get it. It borderline seems impossible to break up during the holidays. How could such a spirited, Mariah Carey, and cookie-filled time ever be paired with an all-expenses paid trip to splitsville?

Well, according Laura Bilotta, author, TV host, dating coach, matchmaker and founder of successful dating website Single in the City, pretty darn likely. Don't panic, it doesn't mean it's going to happen to you. But it does mean, you should be prepared that although this is a time of merry good cheer — the holidays can also bring some pretty heavy blows to your relationship. And perhaps the most alarming part is, they're ones you may not even expect — and therefore never, ever saw coming. Or did you?

That's right, there is a silver lining to bidding farewell to a significant other during the "happiest season of all." Aside from just not having to get them a gift (more on that later). According to Bilotta, the holidays can make those in a relationship shine some bright lights on issues they've been pushing down into the deep dark abyss for quite some time. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. So take a deep breath, grab some eggnog, and read on for her seven reasons that couples tend to break up over the holidays.

1. The Holidays Brings Things To A Head

Think of holidays as both a giant magnifying glass and magnet for your relationship. They tend to bring buried issues to the surface in a big way. "The thought of breaking up may have been lingering but never acted upon," Bilotta tells Bustle. "This time of year can you make couples realize that their values, interests and feelings aren't as well matched as they thought they were — and their little quirks and habits may start driving them mad."

2. They Also Set New Levels Of Expectations

Not unlike your extensive wish list to Santa, you tend to go big over the holidays. Your wants, desires, emotions —everything is running high. And what may have seemed like a large request for your partner pre-tinsel time, may all of a sudden seem completely reasonable during them. It's like being drunk on holiday spirit. Reminder: not everyone's sipping the same eggnog.

"The holidays can create a lot of extra pressure and tends to support expectations about how someone else is supposed to act towards you and do for you," says Bilotta. "This can create new problems in stable relationships, or it can help split relationships that are close to being doomed."

3. Money, Coupley Parties, And Money Again

Although it seems very Joey from Friends to break up with someone just to avoid buying them a gift, it still exists — and can have a far deeper meaning than just saving a few bucks. (But, that too.) "You may not want to buy an expensive Christmas gift for someone you really don’t see a future with," says Bilotta. "Stress levels already escalate this time of year — so many gifts to buy and so many couple-oriented parties to attend — it can all burden relationships that may already be coping."

4. The Whole Introducing to Family Factor

Ah, the inevitable tipping point. If you and your significant other have yet to cross this road, the holidays will slap you in the face with it. How can it not? You can't exactly say you won't be seeing your family — there's no way to hide. And this elephant in the room will rock the boat for those who have no desire to bring Mom and Dad into the mix. "Meeting the parents makes the relationship very real," explains Bilotta. "And some realize that their partner is not someone they would want to introduce to their families — so they break up before the holidays arrive."

5. Family Can Also Create A Buffer

Real talk: My ex-boyfriend broke up with me days before we were supposed to spend the holidays with my family. And until now I didn't think it was necessarily strategic — but according to Bilotta, that very well could have been the case. "If someone has a good relationship with their family, perhaps knowing that they will be celebrating with them at the end of the month might be a comfort to the one who is initiating the breakup." Ouch.

6. It's The Most Sentimental Time Of The Year

In case the millions of heart-wrenching holiday movies didn't remind you — the McAllister's did leave Kevin all alone while they took off to Paris! — Christmas is a very sentimental time of year for pretty much everyone. It's the time you spend with your closest friends and family, after all. And these high levels of corny good cheer can wreak havoc with your significant other as well. "It's one of those times that really marks where you are at in your relationship," says Bilotta. "The thought of faking your happiness and dedication to the relationship and forcing a smile and loving words while exchanging gifts with this person can have you feeling stressed and flustered."

7. New Year, New Start

It's not a hard riddle to crack. The dawn of a new year brings with it new resolutions, goals — and opportunities. And this often includes the romantic variety as well. If things aren't exactly on solid ground, it's almost impossible not to think about making a change.

And maybe you should. "If things just haven't been going to well, you may want to start the new year fresh with new possibilities," says Bilotta. It's that simple.

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