Confetti and empty champagne bottles aren’t the only things headed for the trash in the New Year—so could your relationship. January is unofficially known as National Breakup Month, with the first Monday of the month known as “Divorce Day.” So what’s with all the heartbreak? Blame it on the fresh starts and resolutions as we usher in a new year.
“The dawning of a New Year is generally a time of reflection and self-improvement. People often take this opportunity to evaluate their relationships to decide if their needs are being met,” Stephen Quaderer, CEO of ThotExperiment, a digital ecosystem of modern platforms for sexual exploration, tells Lifehacker. “Are they fulfilled emotionally? Sexually? Do we have a future together? If not, the thinking goes, better to make a clean break and start fresh in the new year.”
Factor in holiday stress, as well as any temptations at a Christmas work party or traveling back home to see your old friends, and it’s no wonder that we might think the grass is greener on the other side. But how do you know that your relationship is truly headed for a breakup or some knee-jerk reactio instigated by the unwarranted promise of a shiny new year?
How to know you’re breaking up in the New Year for the right reasons
To determine whether you want to break up because of a holiday whim, Quaderer suggests taking a step back and assessing the situation. “Ask yourself if you’ve been feeling unhappy in the relationship for some time, or [if you’re heavily influenced by the emotions of the holiday.]”
It’s also important, he says, to think about why you want to break up. “Are there any issues that you’ve been struggling with that you feel can’t be resolved? Are there any changes you’d like to make that you feel your partner isn’t willing to make?”
Just because you might want to break up around the New Year doesn’t mean your reasons aren’t valid, though. According to Quaderer, the “usual suspects” when it comes to relationship decay are if you have unresolved conflict, lack of trust, unmet expectations, fundamental incompatibilities, and have unclear goals with your partner. If you’ve continued to encounter these issues with your partner with little change after communicating your concerns, then those are definite reasons to consider a breakup.
Finally, he recommends thinking about how you’ll feel after the break up. “Will you feel relieved or regretful? Will you feel like you’ve made the right decision, or will you feel like you’ve made a mistake? Taking the time to assess the situation and think about how you’ll feel afterwards can help you make the right decision.”
Why the holidays can actually be a good time to reflect on your relationship
While it’s definitely easy to get swept up with the emotions and stress of the holidays, causing you to overreact, Quaderer says the holidays can actually serve as a good time to reflect on your relationship too.
“The fact is there is no ‘bad time’ to reflect on your relationship,” he says. “The holidays can be a great opportunity to take a look at the relationships in your life and see if they are still serving you. Whether it’s a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a family bond, it’s important to assess how things are going and make sure your relationships are healthy and fulfilling. Are you getting what you need out of them? Are there any changes you’d like to make?”
On the flip side, Quaderer says it’s also a great time to think about how you can show your appreciation for the people in your life. “Whether it’s a gift, a kind gesture, or simply spending quality time together, it’s important to show your loved ones how much you care.”
So instead of focusing on what’s lacking in your relationship right now, think of what’s going right and see how you might improve your relationship by flipping your perspective.
How to break up with someone in the New Year
If you’ve decided to break up with your partner in the new year, Quaderer says it’s best to be honest and direct—same as at any other time of year. “It’s important to be respectful and to make sure your partner knows that you care about them, even if you’ve concluded that you don’t want to be in a relationship with them anymore,” he says.
He recommends starting by expressing your feelings and why you think it’s best to end the relationship. Be sure to give your partner the opportunity to ask questions and express their feelings. “It’s also important to be prepared for the conversation to take some unexpected turns, so be ready to listen and be understanding,” he says. “Make sure to be kind and compassionate throughout the conversation. Breaking up is never easy, but with a little care and tact, it can be done in a way that shows respect and consideration, and gives you both the opportunity to find new pastures in the new year.”
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