’Tis the season to be jilted.
Fewer couples will be kissing under the mistletoe this week as breakup season brings a blizzard of splits just before Christmas. If you’re about to get dumped, rest assured, you’re not alone in being alone.
Since when did the most wonderful time of the year become a lump of coal for relationships? The anecdotal evidence of “seasonal breakup disorder” dates back to Sodom and Gomorrah, but more recently, data analyst David McCandless trolled 10,000 Facebook status updates in 2010 and discovered that more couples break up in the two weeks before Christmas than any other time of year.
Match.com — that online mistletoe — says its peak surfing season starts on Dec. 25, just as the breakups of breakup season are sinking in.
Alyssa Devine (center) is a Bushwick gallery manager who was dumped shortly before Christmas, in the weeks that are known as peak breakup season.
Just look around these days. You’re bound to see someone welling up — and it’s not because the cold weather makes your eyes tear.
Bushwick’s Alyssa Devine is just the latest casualty.
“I was a mess for a while. The holidays are supposed to be spent with the ones you love,” says the 25-year-old gallery manager, whose girlfriend dumped her shortly after Thanksgiving, the official start of “breakup season.”
She spent last Christmas with her ex, making this Yuletide on her own even more bittersweet. “I thought that was gonna be one of many,” she says. “It saddens me that it’s not the same this year.”
Even Santa may not put you in the Christmas spirit if you’re recovering from a breakup.
Hollywood isn’t immune to this holiday havoc. Madonna and boy-toy Brahim Zaibat confirmed their breakup this month, and Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel just moved to that lonely place called Splitsville.
New York’s relationship coaches say they’re busier than ever, consoling broken-hearted clients who couldn’t weather the 12 days of Christmas.
“I’ve got a bunch of relationships and marriages that are blowing up right now,” says Rachel Sussman, who specializes in breakup and divorce counseling. “You hear about people suffering from seasonal affective disorder. I think they get holiday affective disorder, too.”
Stress levels skyrocket this time of year, with so many presents to buy, and so many pair-oriented parties to attend, which strains relationships that may already be struggling. Studies show that stress decreases sex drive and impairs the ability to control emotions, brewing a perfect storm of relationship peril.
Anna Bizov/Getty Images
The stress of Christmas can illuminate problems in a relationship.
Sometimes the gift-giving puts partners on the spot.
“It’s a lot of pressure for some guys,” says Cooper Lawrence, author of “Been There, Done That, Kept the Jewelry.” “If she is expecting an engagement ring … it will force the issue, making him think more seriously if she is ‘the one.’”
Many people cut and run before they are roped into another round of awkward seasonal festivities with their significant other’s parents.
“People take this opportunity to end it, because the idea of spending another holiday unhappy is intolerable,” explains Dr. Michelle Golland, a clinical psychologist. “Picture sitting at Christmas dinner with your parents faking it, when all you can think is, ‘I want out of this relationship.’ Some people just can’t take it anymore.”
Alyssa Devine (l.) knows that that the holiday season can be anything but jolly when a relationship ends.
That was the case for Maryjane Fahey, who was also anxious about entering the new year a few years ago without her dead-weight boyfriend dragging her down.
“I have certainly dumped people due to the pressure of the new year,” says the West Village writer. “That promise of a fresh start urges folks to dump those lovers that don’t really do it for them and start fresh.’”
But she’s also been on the receiving end of a Yuletide split, which inspired her to write “Dumped!” with her friend Caryn Beth Rosenthal. “I had a really hard time that first Christmas alone, wondering who he would be with when he went to family parties,” she admits. “We were together for five years, and had so many lovely holiday rituals.”
Of course, there’s an upside to being put down during the holidays: the warmth of family, the natural revival of the new year, lots of free booze at office parties and, of course, all those newly single people who just got dumped. Like you.
Don’t dwell on your loss. Get out there and socialize!
“Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, take advantage of the social events of this season,” says Fahey. “I went to a party the other day, and at least three guys there had gotten dumped shortly before.” with Lauren Holter
THE DOS AND DON’TS OF HOLIDAY DUMPING
DO BE HONEST. “Don’t pick a fight, and then say ‘We’re over’ as an excuse,” says Maryjane Fahey. “Things have been bad for a long time, and you don’t want to drag this out.”
DON’T WAIT TIL THE LAST MINUTE. “Don’t dump someone on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, because you will ruin those days for them,” says Cooper Lawrence. “Do it now. Why prolong the inevitable?”
DO IT IN PERSON. “It’s not a text. It’s not an email. It’s sitting across the table,” says Fahey.
DON’T ASSUME YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS DOOMED. Not everyone breaks up before Christmas so don’t obsess about it. “If you get that nugget in your brain — we’re gonna break up, we’re gonna break up — and you can’t let it go, that relationship will implode in days,” says Rachel Sussman. “Relax. All relationships ebb and flow.”
DO REALIZE THERE’S NO NICE WAY TO DO THIS. “Either way, the holidays are going to suck for you and this person,” says Dr. Michelle Golland, “so decide which sucky do you want: That you’re sitting across from someone you can’t stand, or do you want to break up and have it done?”
DON’T CRAWL UP AND DIE: Get back out there. After all, no one should be alone during the holidays!