The Art of Letting Go
The reasons for wanting a partner for the festive season are numerous. From having someone to drag along to your office party, to having someone to sit next to at your family lunch (and save you from your crazy Aunt’s enquiries as to why you’re still single), having a man around can make the party season a whole lot more enjoyable, and less lonely. And that’s great, if you and your man are at a good spot in your relationship. But what if things aren’t going well, and the only reason you haven’t cut him loose is because the thought of tackling the festive season solo scares you? That’s where you could be doing you and him some serious damage.
One last chance?
Party season brings out the best in people, right? Wrong. From never-ending shopping lists to blown budgets and lack of time, the festive season is darned stressful. While we break our backs trying to pull off a Goop-worthy table setting and the perfect turkey, tempers flare and blood pressures rise. So why do we think that this will be the year that we turn into a Gwyneth Paltrow/Martha Stewart hybrid, resplendent with a sense of calm? Hate to break it to you, but Christmas is never going to be stress-free. Add to that your already-grating relationship woes, and your hopes that the Christmas cheer will fix your love quickly evaporate.
“Relationship drama doesn’t stop just because there’s mistletoe hanging all over the place,” says Marni Battista, relationship expert and founder and CEO of Dating with Dignity. “It’s better to be authentic than to have to fake your way through turkey at his mum’s house when you know he’s getting the axe.”
You’re not doing any favours
We know, breaking up with someone just before the holidays sounds nasty and callous. Except it’s not. If the reason you’re stringing your should-be-ex along is because you think dumping him before Christmas is the ultimate in straight-to-hell behavior, think again.
“So you’re going to go to parties together, you’re going to spend New Year’s Eve together, you’re going to spend the entire holidays together, and then what? Break up with him after the first of January so you can leave him with a very bad taste in his mouth about the holidays, and have to explain to his family what went wrong?” says David Wygant of AskMen.com. “If you’re sitting in a relationship right now that you’re not happy with, break it off. Why celebrate the holidays together? Why bear the moments of having to look in each other’s eyes during December milestones and force yourself to tell him loving words?
Look at it this way: while you’re suffering through your paired-up affair your partner may be oblivious to the fact that he’s about to be dumped. And that’s just unfair. Consider how you’d feel if the roles were reversed. “Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who secretly desires a break-up?” asks Michael Freeman of LovesAGame.com. “You deserve someone who wants to be with you. And so does your partner.”
Have the talk
While there’s never an ideal time to break up, if you’re planning to end things before the holidays, try to get it done as soon as possible. Marni advises to keep explanations simple and kind, particularly given the already heightened stress and emotion of holiday season.
“Creating a check-list and then reciting it during the break-up is not what he needs to hear,” she says. “First tell him what you appreciate about him, such as his loyalty, or the way he makes you laugh. Then explain that there are certain differences between you that have made it clear to you that you’re not an ideal match.” Marni suggests having the chat somewhere mutually convenient that doesn’t hold any emotional significance for the two of you. “Break up after work. Don’t linger over dinner. And don’t do it late at night. Give him time to go and find support, and process what has happened.” She also points out that long conversations that continue into the night and potentially end up in throes of break-up passion don’t help anyone. “It’s just plain confusing,” she says.
Look after you
Sure, the break-up was your idea and you know you’re going to be better for having done it, but there’s no denying that the end of a relationship is a sad time that demands a grieving process. If privacy is what you need, don’t be scared to ask for it. “Your break-up is no one’s business but your own,” says Lisa Steadman, author of It’s A Breakup, Not a Breakdown and If He’s Not The One, Who Is? “So when someone slides up to you with a gossip gleam in their eye and asks, ‘So, where’s what’s-his-name?’ reserve the right to protect your healing heart. Simply smile and say, ‘None of your business’. Put yourself first.”
Schedule plenty of ‘you’ time, be it a solo massage or a festive lunch with girlfriends who know when to offer support and when to keep their mouths shut.
Finally, be sure to be open and honest with your family. Tell them you’ve broken up and so they shouldn’t expect your partner to be present at festivities, and that they shouldn’t buy gifts for him – it’ll save you having to awkwardly decline them. But as Lisa pointed out, the amount of detail you want to share is totally up to you.
Onwards and upwards
The silver lining to the storm cloud that is breaking up over the holidays is that you get to kick off 2015 with a fresh, clean start. For once, your New Year’s resolutions can be purely focused on you – what makes you happy, what you’d like to achieve over the coming 12 months. Regardless of what the New Year brings, you can kick it off with a clear conscience, knowing that you ended a broken relationship and in doing so, gave both your ex and yourself the best start to the New Year possible - apart.