Post-Holiday Breakups – what is it with the Holidays?!

Seems like more than just a few of my friends are going through break ups right after the holiday season. And while I’m not surprised by the disintegration of the shorter termed relationships (6 weeks, 3 months), I am surprised by the longer termed relationships (3+ years).

What is it about the holidays that cause relationships to dissolve? Post-holiday depression? Failed trial run with families?

Two factors may increase the likelihood of break ups to occur right after the holidays. The first being Proximity with Family. Holidays (especially year-end holidays) are often when people spend quality time with families in close quarters. And if you’re in a serious relationship, you’re most likely going to spend some or all of the holidays with each other’s families. So perhaps by spending extended time with one another’s families suddenly shines the spotlight how you don’t actually get a long that well with the potential in-laws, or how you simply don’t fit in with their family’s crazy styles or traditions. Whatever reason, spending long periods of time with your significant other’s family may either highlight how well you fit in… or the exact opposite. And with New Year’s right around the corner, there can also be some re-evaluation of life and relationships, trying to re-center ourselves, prioritize the people and things in our lives and figuring out where our life is headed next.

The second factor may be the “no break-up time frame”. For optimal break-up timing, there seems to be an unspoken rule to avoid the holidays. But that doesn’t just mean “Don’t break up on Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year’s Day” – there seems to be some buffer time that encases these holidays. Some say that the start time of the “no break-up time” is November 1st. Why so early? Because that is usually the beginning of Thanksgiving holiday plans with the family.

So what about after Thanksgiving but before Christmas? Apparently, that is also a no-go. Time between Thanksgiving and Christmas ranges between 3 to 4 weeks, and usually the time in between the two holidays are also hyped with “seasonal greetings” and “festive cheer”. In addition, no one wants to be the reason for ruining their significant other’s Christmas holiday.

And what about the time between Christmas to New Years? Now we all know that it’s only a 1 week opening, and once again, half of the American families are still on holiday / break and trying out their new Christmas gifts… so one can’t exactly break up right after Christmas, because we are still in the midst of celebrating the holidays. In addition, who wants to potentially ruin the upcoming New Year’s Eve party (who wants to be crying over champagne while counting down)?

Now how long does the no-break-up timeframe extend to after New Year’s? For good measure, perhaps 1-2 weeks. But beware, because you can’t wait too long, because the next landmine that awaits is VALENTINE’S DAY that is quickly approaching on Feb 14th. So if you’re looking to break up with someone, you’ve been benched since November 1st, till say Jan 5-10th. And, to make matters worse, you have a deadline quickly approaching, which is to do it early enough to not be a jerk and “break up right before Valentine’s Day”. So you have break up after beginning of January but complete the goal before the end of January. So we’re looking at a no-break-up time frame of Nov 1 thru Jan 10th, and a safe break-up time frame between Jan 11th thru Jan 31st.

If all 365 days have equal probability of breaking up, and that for about 70 days surrounding the year-end holidays (before Thanksgiving to after New Years) there is a no-breakup time frame, and in addition, add a deadline of the fast approaching Valentine’s Day, then perhaps it is not so strange that so many couple break up post-holidays. And that it’s not an anomaly or anything that the holidays caused… But perhaps the relationship would have been broken off earlier, had it not been for the holidays. But due to the “holidays” (aka 70 no-breakup zone), break ups that were about to happen were delayed and accumulated to happen all at once AFTER the holidays (more accurately, 1-2 weeks after New Years). So perhaps it feels more frequent than usual… due to all the delayed break ups building up over the holidays.

Schematic of break up buildups from Nov and Dec and beginning of Jan, all happening at mid-end of January, to avoid Feb (Valentine's Day)

Schematic of break up buildups from Nov and Dec and beginning of Jan, all happening at mid-end of January, to avoid Feb (Valentine’s Day)

So the question remains – while some significant others will honor the “no break up” time frame, is that something you would want? Would you want your significant other to delay the break up till after the multi-holiday season to call it quits? Or would you rather they be upfront with you and discuss the break up with you as soon as they made up their minds, regardless of holiday seasons and vacation plans?

And if you were the one breaking up, would you honor the 70-day no break up time frame, due to all the holidays? Because you don’t want to ruin their holiday cheer with ugly news. Or would you break up when the time comes, no matter if it’s in between the holidays, because you’d rather be honest and upfront about the relationship, rather than keeping up the front of “pretending” to be together, but your heart has already moved on?

Now we said two potential factors upfront, but could there be a third factor to why break ups are more frequent in the beginning of the year – January? Could it be that people meet new people over NYE parties? Now that’s for another post…


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