The weeks leading up to the holidays is one of the “peak break-up” times of the year according to a graph and informal report based on facebook status changes completed by David McCandless and Lee Byron. Many people wonder why since besides Valentine’s Day this time of the year is thought of as a romantic time. But, just like for individuals, the holiday season is also a stressful time and if you don’t have a strong relationship, there are many ways this season can derail your relationship.
The following are five potential break-up causes and how you can avoid them:
1) Expectations. Holiday celebrations are different in each family. Some may prefer a quiet holiday, going to church, giving (at the most) one or two gifts and focusing on spending time together. Other families may focus on the gift-giving, with piles of gifts for each person. Still others may find volunteering an important holiday tradition. If you aren’t used to the way the other person spends the holiday, or haven’t talked about it, you can become disappointed because the holiday doesn’t match your vision.
Be sure to talk about expectations. Share stories about past holidays and how your family celebrates. If gifts are important to your partner, but have never been a focus for your family, one of you is going to end up disappointed. Find mutual ground and compromise so the holiday is special for both of you.
2) The wrong gift. You’ve been dating for a few weeks or a few months. You think this person is great and may be “the one.” You want to buy something special but aren’t sure how much money to spend, or how much he is planning on spending for your gift. You don’t want to overdo it but you don’t want to underdo it either.
Unless you talk about it, you aren’t going to know for sure what to do. If you have been dating a few weeks, then a small token gift is probably appropriate but if it has been a few months or longer it becomes trickier. You may think an expensive gift is in order and be disappointed when you receive a candle and a box of candy. Asking what (s)he wants for Christmas can help you gauge the approximate value or you can set up a limit beforehand, such as “How about we limit gifts to one another to $50.00?” Making sure your ideas line up with one another makes sure neither person is disappointed or embarrassed.
3) To meet the family...or not. Bringing a significant other to Christmas dinner usually signifies a serious relationship but to not invite him may signal a serious problem. When relationships are in the beginning stages, you want the timing of meeting each others families to coincide with the stage of your relationship. But the holidays often rush this and end up causing problems.
Think about whether you are ready to have your new significant other meet your family. Ask yourself, “If it wasn’t the holidays, would I be ready to have him join in a family dinner?” If you wouldn’t, then chances are, it isn’t the best time to do so. Instead, talk honestly about your feelings and plan to meet for breakfast or in the evening for a private celebration.
4) You think going through the holidays together signifies your relationship has moved to the next level. Around the holidays we are surrounded by sentimental messages. We see movies of love and family, we see advertisements for jewelry and engagement rings, we hear songs about love. We often equate going through the holidays together with our relationship moving to a deeper level and are disappointed when that doesn’t happen. This can go both ways, with your new significant other assuming you are making a deeper commitment simply because you are spending the holidays together.
Review your expectations and your relationship. If it wasn’t the holiday season, would you be ready to make a deeper commitment? If it wasn’t the holiday season, would you expect him to say “I love you” or ask you to marry him? Consider the stage of your relationship and be realistic about where it is and where it is going.
5) The holidays are one-sided. You are looking forward to spending Christmas with your new significant other and want to plan the perfect holiday. But you seem to be the only one. You get the tree, decorate it, plan dinner, buy and wrap presents - for him and his family and cook the dinner. Your new significant other is content sitting back and enjoying what you have done - without helping.
If this is your first Christmas together as an official couple - where you are entertaining family and friends as a couple, make sure you both understand who does what. Sit down together and make a list of everything that needs to be done and then divvy up the responsibilities so neither person feels taken advantage of.
Published On: December 17, 2013