Holidays are often the ultimate test for relationships — it's actually the most common time of year that couples break up. With the added pressures of finding gifts, attending boring work parties, and deciding which family to spend your celebrations with, some couples just don't seem to make it past the trying winter months into the spring. Now this can seem completely counter-intuitive; the holidays are supposed to be a happy time filled with love, and the spirit of giving that should really bring you closer together. For many couples, this is definitely the case, but for others, all of the little annoyances are just speeding up the inevitable.
Maybe the holidays are a blessing, after all.
A study conducted by London-based data journalist, David McCandless and Lee Byron based on Facebook updates regarding breakups found that the two most common times of year that breakups most frequently happen is right around Valentine's Day, and the two weeks before Christmas. Other small peaks in breakups occur right around April Fool's day (sick joke, much?) and Mondays during April and May. But overall, it is the two major holidays surrounding love that make or break your relationship, and this doesn't seem to be a coincidence. So what is it about the holidays that make even the most solid-seeming relationships implode? Well, it all boils down to a few, key things.
Trying To Start Fresh Toward The End Of The Year
This seems to explain more of why those Christmas/New Years breakups are the trend, but it's a very important point. We are always told that one year ending and another beginning is a chance for a new start; we reflect on how the past year went, and develop our personal resolutions for the year to come so that we can better ourselves in one way or another. But for some people, this could mean ending the negative energy associated with an unwanted relationship, and starting a clean slate as a newly single person.
"I can only reflect on my own experience,” McCandless told ABC News. “Would you want stay in a relationship that you felt was over through Christmas and New Year's? You don't want to be dogged by worries or pressure, you don't want to be worrying about the potential ups and downs in your relationship, you just want to clear the space.”
The end of the year could be the catalyst you need to firmly decide that for the upcoming year, you're not going to put up with crap from your partner anymore. Or maybe you can't even fathom dealing with this person through the holidays, and so the season just enforces your need for a clean slate. Whatever the reason may be, there is something about the “new beginnings” mentality that comes with the Christmas/New Years season that makes you more inclined to reevaluate your relationships.
Stress And Pressures That Come With The Holidays
There is nothing more stressful than the holiday season, and for those in already seemingly-strained relationships, the added pressure is really felt.
"This is the season," said Dr. Dorree Lynn, psychologist and author of "Sex for Grownups," to ABC News, "to be needy and greedy as opposed to the message that we try to put out. It evokes incredibly high stress and depression, culminating statistically in New Years being the highest suicide date. The reason this happens is that we have the media myth that this is supposed to be a happy, wonderful and joyous time.”
It's pretty ironic, but for whatever reason this forced need to be happy seems to make us the complete opposite, and it can often spread to all aspects of your life. These stresses often extend from the financial (Christmas is the season of surmounting debt, after all) to having to confront family members or friends you really haven't gotten along with in the past. If you do not have a partner that you can rely on at this time, who will help you through your inevitable nervous breakdown when you see your credit card bill, then that person probably wasn't the one after all.
This seems to be the case for Valentine's Day as well; even though the pressure isn't coming at you from all sides as it is with the Christmas season, it is strictly centered around your relationship. High expectations of how Valentine's Day must go, and how your significant other should express their devotion could lead to points of contention.
Which brings me to...
It Should Be A Time To Solidify Commitment, But It Isn't Always
Like I said, holidays are a time that really put your relationship to the test. A report by the Economist found that holidays are the time when couples expect their significant other to display their love and devotion in tangible ways. They want to see them go above and beyond, whether it be with a gift, or a fancy dinner, to show them how much they truly care. This is especially the case for individuals who feel their partner has been lacking in that department lately. Chances are, when one partner feels the other needs to prove themselves on a holiday like Valentine's Day or Christmas, it's because the relationship is already waning. The holiday then becomes the last nail in the coffin.
The Added Pressure Of Getting And Giving Gifts
Gifts for your significant other are often expected to have significant meaning, and a pretty hefty price tag. If you're becoming less invested in a relationship, chances are you don't want to have to deal with this aspect. And while it may seem little, not wanting to get a gift for your partner may bring up all of the other negative emotions you're already feeling toward them.
"Couples or people who are dating are in a bind," Lynn said. "It's kind of a flight or another step to commitment time. The same thing holds true for Valentine's Day. These are symbolic times where you're making a statement, and if you're not sure, particularly if you haven't been dating for several years, a lot of people have issues about gift giving and how intimate the gift giving is and they get frightened because they don't want to put pressure on the other person, but on the other hand they don't want to feel like a fool giving something and not getting anything back."
As Lynn says, giving gifts open us up to a lot more vulnerabilities than we previously thought, and may not be ready for. When giving a meaningful present, we may not receive something as equally meaningful back, and that can say a lot about how your partner is feeling.
Yes, the holidays are a time of rampant separations, but do not let that be another reason for you to become a Scrooge, or an anti-Valentine's Day crusader. While the holidays may result in 10 more gray hairs to show for your aggravation, they could also be the moment you realized you and your man/lady had what it takes to make it for the long haul.
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