How to Cope with a Breakup During the Holiday Season

STYLECASTER | Holiday Breakups

Breaking up with someone is never easy. But when the holidays roll around, many may wonder if it’s better to wait until after New Years to end it or cut ties before all the family gatherings and gift giving. The truth is, do you really want to spend the holidays and all that time with someone who you know isn’t right for you? The holidays are stressful enough!

So, if you’re considering ending it with your partner this holiday season, here are some dos and don’ts to follow for ending it the right way.

DON’T Wait Until the Holidays are Over

It’s never a good time to break up with someone, but Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist, says prolonging the inevitable will make it more stressful for everyone involved. “That includes all the family members with whom you spend the holidays with.”

DO Consider Your Ex’s Feelings

The holidays can be an emotional and lonely time, so, depending on your ex, you might want to cue in some mutual friends to rally around them, explains psychologist and founder of Thrive Psychology LA, Dr. Charlynn Ruan. “At the very least, it will lessen your guilt over the timing of the breakup.”

DON’T Feel Bad if You Just Started Dating

If you start a relationship in November and by Christmas, no big deal, there should be no conflict. No one expects anything from people who just met. But be kind no matter what the circumstance.

MORE: 10 Compromises You Should Never Make in a Relationship

DO Choose Your Timing Wisely

If you’re about to visit his/her family, don’t wait until after. “You might be tempted to do this out of niceness, but it would be better to breakup prior and let them be supported by their family,” says Ruan. And you shouldn’t have to go through that experience just to save someone else’s feelings or risk the possibility of them proposing and you having to turn them down.

DON’T Lie About Why You’re Breaking up

Lying is never a good idea, but especially during the holidays when you might be feeling extra guilty. “The holidays offer valuable time to connect with loved ones and this support network can aide in the trauma of a breakup… but it’s much easier when you’re honest,” says relationship expert Jaya Myra. “You don’t want your partner finding out later that you lied and end up rehashing the same anger and pain all over.”

DO be Assertive and Empathetic

Be sure to honestly explain why you’re breaking up, do it face-to-face, in a way that’s clear but also aware of the other person’s feelings. Don’t even think about breaking up via text (unless it’s really not serious, in which case you wouldn’t be calling it a breakup) or ghosting them (only acceptable under rare circumstances).

DON’T Feel Pressure to Follow Through with Holiday Plans

Just because you told your partner you’d go to their cousin’s Christmas dinner doesn’t make you obligated to stay together. “You don’t have to attend their work party or family events to save face,” says O’Reilly. “The holidays are busy and stressful so don’t attend events that won’t matter to you when you look back years from now/”

MORE: The 17 Most Common Mistakes People Make Early on in Relationships

DO Negotiate How to Handle Holiday Parties

Another tough situation is holiday parties with shared friends. It can lead to awkward questions, seeing that person with a new date, or a cocktail-fueled fight. “If your breakup is amicable, negotiate how to handle these situations,” says Ruan. “If you do attend a party at the same time, you’ll likely be answering awkward questions all night, so decide how to answer in advance.”

DON’T Make Plans and Bail at the Last Minute

“If you know a breakup is imminent, don’t put it off and make plans to spend the holidays with your partner,” says Myra. “That’s just low, and not good conduct by anyone’s standards. Be honest and open as soon as you know you’re done.” In short: Don’t waste anyone’s time—yours, theirs, or their family’s.

DO Keep Your Family Posted

Your family might still be expecting you and your now-ex, so let them know in advance if you’ll be attending parties and gatherings alone. “Also, let them know whether or not you want to talk about it—you’re not required to offer them a full explanation or answer intrusive questions,” says O’Reilly.

DON’T Underestimate the Impact on You

If you’re doing the one breaking up, that doesn’t mean you won’t be hit with loneliness. The holidays are a hard time to be newly single. “Plan self-care activities in advance, visit a friend, plan a spa day, buy some new outfits, order some gifts online to be delivered as gifts to yourself throughout the season,” suggests Ruan. “Just small gestures that remind you that you’re special and loved.”

DO Prepare Yourself for Family as a Newly Single Person

Breaking up can be particularly challenging during the holidays when you’re surrounded by family members who might be questioning your decision or asking when you’re finally going to get married and have kids. Be firm in your response and try to change the subject when you can. “If there’s a family member who makes you feel uncomfortable or unworthy, try to skip spending time with them,” says O’Reilly. “You may feel vulnerable after a breakup and you don’t need additional emotional stress.”