What is breakup season exactly? For most people in college, Thanksgiving marks the one season in the year that is reserved completely for family. It’s typically the time people go back to their hometowns to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones. If you’ve been seeing someone for a while, it’s also the point at which you begin to ask some important questions. Is this serious enough to warrant an invite to Christmas dinner with the family? If we do spend Christmas together, does that mean New Year’s is also on the table? And if New Year’s is on the table, is that the prelude to Valentine’s day? If the answer was no to any of these questions, it’s easy to see how Thanksgiving can be a good opportunity for a breakup.
It’s perfectly normal to feel some anxiety over the future, and chances are, you’re not alone. If you’re currently at a crossroads in your relationship, we’ve rounded up a few suggestions to make breakup season a lot less painful.
Don’t overthink it
Set your expectations for the holiday season
It may sound obvious, but it’s important to talk to your partner about what you both expect when it comes to the holidays. Does your partner celebrate Christmas? Will you be exchanging gifts? Do you expect to be introduced to the family? Often, these questions are avoided because they’re tricky, but that’s all the more reason to talk these through early.
Know that you don’t have to do the family thing
Lean into evaluating the relationship
All relationships, regardless of age, can benefit from regular check-ins. Regular check-ins allow you and your partner to discuss how you feel about each other and the future at large. Dr. Randi Guther recommends evaluating relationships across seven dimensions. Do you play together? Share dreams? Is there trust between both partners? Do you work as a team? How do you fight? Do you understand your partner’s childhood issues? And are you willing to co-parent a child in the future? The answers to these questions may change as each partner grows, so it’s important to ask them regularly. Talking about these issues also answers the most important question: Do you see yourself working towards the same future?
If there are concerns, address them
Resolve to be better
If you’re feeling a little lackluster about your relationship but not hopeless enough to join in on breakup season, consider setting some resolutions to help you rekindle the passion. Do you want to spend more time together? Set aside a weekend a month (or a quarter) for a proper vacation. Do you want to be more present? Make screen-free dates a thing. Try new activities together, such as learning a language or cooking a meal. Small promises count just as much as big gestures. What matters is that you’re both willing to put in the time to make things work.
Use the extra time to connect
Set aside time to work on yourself
Give yourself time to recover
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