Should he breakup now, breakup after the holidays, or try to fix the problems and stay together?
It’s only a few days until Christmas. Your relationship feels like it’s over. How do you breakup when you know it will probably destroy her? Do you wait? Do you get it over with so she can start the year anew? Or do you work on the relationship and try to turn things around?
Breaking up before Christmas can feel very Scrooge-like. But staying together when a relationship feels like it’s over? You’ll be going through the motions, feeling like a fraud, passing the gravy to your girlfriend at Aunt Sally’s Christmas dinner, smiling when you’re feeling crappy inside. Ugh.
Let’s explore three options: 1. Breakup now, 2. Breakup after the holidays, or 3. Try to fix the problems and stay together.
1. Breaking Up Now
You rip off the bandaid and get it over with before the holidays. Ouch! Breakups are painful, no matter when they happen.
The holidays are especially difficult for breakups, as they are a time for family and love. Dating sites are inundated with new members, hoping to snag a date for the holidays, a kiss under the mistletoe.
But if the relationship is over and you’re faking it to stay together and not hurt her, I’d advise against that. Give her credit that she can handle her emotions. It’s condescending to try and protect someone’s feelings by lying to them.
I believe in being authentic, and if you’re faking it, she’s probably feeling it, and she’s not happy. Unless you’re an incredible actor, you’re not fooling anyone.
So, take her out, and have the breakup talk in person. I like to use an appreciation sandwich for the breakup conversation. Begin and end with appreciation, and the breakup gets sandwiched in the middle.
The Appreciation Sandwich Breakup Conversation
Appreciation: Tell her how much you care for her.
Breakup: Say how much you really wanted this relationship to work, but it’s not working for you anymore. Tell her why it’s not working for you. Hopefully, you’ve shared this with her before and have tried to work things out. This conversation is all about taking responsibility for what’s not working for you, not labeling her or calling her out.
Appreciation: Thank her for being in your life. Tell her you know how sucky the timing is. Ask her how she feels. Listen to her. And decide together how you want to be in the future (Friends? Cut off all ties?).
2. Waiting Until After the Holidays
Unless you plan to spend the holidays apart, it will be difficult to fake it through the holidays (see ‘break up with her now’).
If you will be apart during the holidays, wait until you are together again, and break up in person using the appreciation sandwich. Limit your conversations over the holidays. And don’t say, “I love you” or any other false message of affection.
3. Working Things Out
Things don’t get better with time. They get better by having grownup brave conversations and seeing if you’re both willing to work together to resolve issues.
Often, there are misunderstandings that can be worked out. Try to reach a common ground about tough issues before breaking up.
You’ve already invested time and effort into the relationship.
You shared part of your life with her. You have been intimate, physically and emotionally. Relationships are over only after you’ve tried your best to resolve the problems and nothing changed.
Have a courageous conversation about one thing you’d like to work out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to solve something you thought was insurmountable.
If you can’t work things out on your own, go to a therapist or coach together. Often, a third party can give you tools to help you smooth out the rough edges of your relationship.
Whether you decide to breakup now, wait until after the holidays, or work things out, breakups take a toll on the one breaking up as well as the one on the receiving end.
So, if you do breakup, do it with grace and kindness. And remember to take extra good care of yourself. Happy holidays!
Have you ever had a breakup around the holidays? Please share in the comments below.
Photo: Flickr/Alice Lim