When The New Year Makes You Newly Single
Break up with your boyfriend, you’re bored
( @arianagrande / Giphy )
All through December, your Instagram feed was probably filled with happy couples enjoying the holiday season together, maybe even some engagements. February will likely consist of similar posts of couples celebrating Valentine’s day.
But, between these two months lies a phenomenon that you probably won’t see plasted on your social media feed: the post-holiday breakup.
January is considered to be the biggest breakup month of the year, often because couples have put off their breakup until after the holidays.
"Relationship freezes" often occur between Thanksgiving and New Year’s because they don’t want to put a damper on the joyous time of year, have already purchased gifts for their significant other or they just don’t want to have to explain their breakup to their family.
Some couples put off their relationship’s impending doom in hopes that a Christmas miracle can repair its failing status. For others, the stress of the holidays is exactly what drives the couple to call it quits.
How do you know when it’s time to say thank you, next?
One way to tell if your relationship is going south is to look for signs of criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling, which is a response to contempt where the listener essentially shuts down and stops responding to their partner. Dr. John Gottman, a world-renowned relationship expert, coined these responses "The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse" predictors of relationship disease.
Gottman provides a method for trying to resolve these conflicts called the Gottman Method which aims to “disarm conflicting verbal communication, increase intimacy, respect and affection, remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy in conflicting situations and create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship.”
Gottman, along with Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, identified nine components of healthy relationships, which they coined The Sound Relationship House Theory. These nine components are learning about your partner, sharing admiration with your partner, being aware of you and your partner’s needs for connection and responding to them, having a positive approach to problem solving, managing conflict, creating an atmosphere for honesty about hopes, values, convictions and aspirations, understanding important meanings in your relationship, trust and commitment.
If you’ve tried to resolve the issues in your relationship to no avail, it’s probably time to end it. Bhakti Cohen, Gainesville based Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, suggests talking to your partner face-to-face and using “I” statements while ending the relationship to avoid being hurtful.
“In today’s world, what I hear to be the most damaging, impersonal, hurtful way to end a relationship is either by ghosting or texting,” Cohen said. “Many people are conflict avoidant and don’t want to hurt their soon-to-be former partner. But the aforementioned ways are far more hurtful than if they were to take personal responsibility, meet for a drink or coffee face-to-face, and speak their truth kindly and gently.”
And what if the new year means being newly single?
The time following a break can be filled with doubt, self-loathing and feeling like you’re unlovable, regardless of whether you were the dumper or the dumpee. During these times its important to prioritize yourself and your well-being. Learning to love yourself again is essential to healing post-breakup.
“Self care is best done when one is surrounded with a good support system — even if from a distance,” Cohen said.
Reach out to friends, family and anyone that brings you joy to help you though this period. Cohen said its natural to go through the five stages of grief after a breakup, since its akin to a loss, and being surrounded by people who love you can help to make these stages easier.
If talking to those around you seems too overwhelming another way to help get over a breakup is by reading books about breakups, such as Bluets by Maggie Nelson or Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. Psychologist Marianna Strongin says this shouldn’t be a way to keep thinking or talking about your ex, though.
If this genre makes you feel more upset, clinical sexologist Megan Stubbs suggests reading erotica instead. Stubbs says flexing your “fantasizing muscle” is a good way to create new daydreams that don’t involve your ex. She recommends Literotica, Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson and Diary of a Submissive by Sophie Morgan.
Another, albeit slightly odd, way to take your mind off a breakup is to do math games, crosswords or sudoku. Liz Afton, psychotherapist at the Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center, says these puzzles utilize the logic and motor skills parts of the brain, helping to redirect your focus thereby reducing the intensity and emotion of the heartbreak. If all else fails, Afton suggests counting backwards from 300 by seven’s. (The brainpower to do that math will definitely keep you distracted.)
As time passes and you eventually move on to new relationships, Cohen suggests taking the past failed relationship as a lesson learned. Recognize what went wrong in past relationships and work to ensure those problems are worked on in new relationships.
Breakups can be hard, but the end of a relationship is not the end of the world. You still deserve to be loved and you deserve to love yourself. Care for yourself and for friends during these tough times, everything will be alright.
Rachel Kutcher is a Staff Writer for Rowdy Magazine. She loves the rain, candles, drinking wine, collecting jars and New Girl's Nick Miller. Her passions include destigmatizing sex, empowering women and sustainability.