The holiday season is supposed to be a time of family and love and togetherness, but sometimes it can be just the opposite. It can feel like an endless gauntlet of family stress that pushes you to breaking point. And, if you're in a relationship, it can easily be a make-or-break season for your relationship. Whether the stress itself leads to fights between the two of you or you're both so involved in your own little worlds that you forget to give the relationship the attention it needs, you may find yourself headed toward breaking up over the holidays.
Sometimes you can feel the distance between you, especially with all the planning and communication normally needed around the holidays. "The most telling clue that the person your with is on the verge of ending your relationship is distance," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. "Not proximity distance, but the emotional kind... phone calls get less frequent and shorter. The types of conversations you engage in are less meaningful and have the feel of an obligation to talk more than an authentic desire. Plans to do things together become more like ‘maybes’ than those things you used to get excited about." Then it's obvious that trouble is on its way. But it's not always so clear.
So here are seven signs you're headed for a holiday breakup, because 'tis the season to get on each others effing nerves:
1. You're Taking The Stress Out On Each Other
It's a stressful time for everyone, but how you handle stressful times can be a big indicator of how the relationship is doing. "When Fred and Marie were doing great, a stressful situation or a minor annoyance would lead to them finding their patient side and saying and doing things that kept the relationship moving in a positive direction," relationship coach Chris Armstrong tells Bustle. "That is because Fred and Marie want to sustain the relationship. If Fred wanted to break up with Marie, he will be short with her, indifferent to resolution, and argumentative." Take note of how you're both dealing with the anxiety.
2. Your Circles Aren't Overlapping
There are so many parties and occasions around the holidays, it can be easy for you and your partner to be socializing separately a lot. That's normal, but if you're both showing absolutely no interest in doing any of these things together— or throwing yourselves into socializing to avoid each other — something may be up. "When a person stops having the time or desire to be with you, then you know that your relationship is on life support system, and that you might just have to be the one who has the guts to pull the plug," relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships, tells Bustle.
3. You're Not Making Any Plans For The New Year
If you're not excited about the year ahead together or if you're straight up avoiding talking about it, it may be because your relationship's expiration date is in sight. "A clue that someone wants to end the relationship is something that I actually suggest my patients do if they want to end a toxic friendship or casual dating relationship," BetterHelp telehealth counselor and psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "The idea comes from a psychological term called 'successive approximations. By this, I have the person answer calls and texts less frequently, be less and less available, until things just naturally drizzle out. If you suddenly realize that you are on the receiving end of this behavior, you might want to start to be honest with yourself that this relationship is on the way out." Not making future plans is a great way to have the relationship drizzle out.
4. You Resent Buying Them A Present
Even though it can be a little nerve-wracking trying to get it right, buying a gift for your partner should also be something you get excited about and look forward to — it's a way of showing them how much you care. If buying a present just feels like a chore, then the relationship may have become one too.
5. You Want To, But Feel Like It's Not The Right Time
The holidays feel like a bad time to break up with someone, so if things have been going bad you've probably got some guilt keeping you with them. "You know you don't want to be with them anymore, but feel like you're a bad person if you leave," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. But if it's already that bad, the stress of the holidays will probably tip you over the edge. Keep an eye out for it.
6. You're Reconnecting With Old Flames (Or They Are)
If you go back home for the holidays, chances are good you'll see a lot of people from your past. It's not unusual to run into old flirts and old flames. If you or your partner are actively seeking out and connecting with those sorts of people, it's a good sign the relationship is on its last legs.
7. One Of You Is Dropping Hints
A sure sign a relationship is flailing is if one — or both— of you is being ominous about the future. "Ending a relationship doesn’t come easily and it’s normal to have doubts about making the right decision," relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. "Dropping hints opens the door to see the partner’s reaction and lay the groundwork for a breakup." If you're being fatalistic about how things are going in the world around you, it probably applies to your relationship too.
The holidays definitely aren't the ideal time to break up, but if it happens, it's probably because it was supposed to happen. It's better to get it over with and actually have some time with your loved ones. So look out for the signs and decide what works best for you.
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