Breaking up is rarely easy to do, and it is often more emotionally troubling for the person being dumped than for the person instigating the breakup. Once the holiday season rolls around, many people considering breakups have to ask themselves whether they should breakup with their partner after the holidays or if they should cut the ties before the two of them went to family gatherings and office parties. Even though there is no likely way to avoid hurting the person that you are about to break up with, approaching the breakup with respect and a sense of empathy may help make the breakup as smooth as possible.
The holiday season ranges from Thanksgiving through Valentine's Day, and is filled with social gatherings, events and opportunities for you and your not-so-sweetie to go out and be seen together. Because this season runs for almost three months, choosing when to breakup can mean buying more gifts and planning another romantic dinner with someone that you don't feel much romance for. If your goal is to break up after the holidays to avoid a social faux pas, then breaking up shortly after Christmas or Chanukah -- but before Valentine's Day. Even though this may seem optimal to you, realize that to your girlfriend, no timing is a good time for a breakup.
Gift giving is an ingrained part of many holiday traditions. When dealing with a post-holiday breakup however, you run into the ethical problem of whether you should keep the gifts your now- ex girlfriend gave you or to return them. If you know that you want to break up but feel that you must wait until after the holidays, minimize the awkwardness of returning an elaborate gift by suggesting beforehand that you and your girlfriend should not give gifts this year, or that you should both set a modest budget. Regardless of the value of the gift, if you intend to return the gift, refrain from opening or using the gift.
Planning Your Exit
Breaking up usually requires some planning, because you may encounter a range of emotions that range from anger to your girlfriend pleading with you not to leave. Breaking up during the holidays adds another layer of planning, since you may have to navigate key religious, social and family events. Planning can also prepare you for tough questions, such as "Is there someone else," or "Why are you leaving me?" If you decide to go through with the breakup, be as direct as possible and do not place blame on your girlfriend. Even if you believe that it is her fault the relationship did not work out, use “I” statements, such as "I am unhappy," or "I don't think we're working out," when breaking up with someone. These statements emphasize that the breakup is something that you are choosing to do, and not that it is the other person’s fault.
Preparing for Backlash
Breaking up with someone always carries the risk of social backlash – especially if you share mutual friends, co-workers or other acquaintances. Even if you do not share many mutual acquaintances, your ex’s friends and family may hurl several choice words your way over your decision to break up near the holidays. Just as with the breakup itself, say to your ex’s friends and family that you were not happy or that you believed it was in the best interests for both of you to end the relationship. Although no one wants to break up during the holidays, you can leave her friends and family with the question of whether it would have been better for her to remain in an unhappy relationship.