real life

"I broke up with my long-term boyfriend on Christmas Day."

Around this time six years ago, Christmas was in the air, carols were being sung aplenty, presents were being placed under trees, and I was seriously unhappy in my relationship. I was crying myself to sleep every night, waking up with a feeling of hopelessness in my stomach and only just getting through the days.

Anyone who has ever been through a long-term breakup knows the feeling, joyous time of year or not.

And so after almost four years together, I broke up with my boyfriend.

On Christmas Day.

being single at Christmas
Annnnnd, we're done. Image via iStock.

At first, I thought this made me a cold-hearted psychopath. And if you're thinking the same thing, don't worry, my friends and family didn't exactly disagree with this assessment either. When I admitted my ill-timed decision to my colleagues recently, well, the reaction was pretty much along the lines of, 'yep, you are definitely a cold-hearted psychopath masquerading in sheep's clothing'.

Because seriously, who breaks up with someone over Christmas? Who sits down to a family lunch only to crush the heart of another six hours later? Well, according to statistics, a lot of people, actually.

average christmas present spend
No plus ones allowed. Source: iStock.

According to Facebook data compiled by two UK researchers, the two weeks leading up to Christmas is the second most popular time for couples to break up (beaten only by spring break).

Divorce lawyers reportedly refer to the period as 'divorce day', reporting the highest number of divorce enquiries are made in early January.

Multiple online dating sites also further confirm this, with data showing the most popular time for new signups is from late December through to late January.

Video via Mamamia

According to relationship expert Dr Nikki Goldstein, the findings are not actually all that surprising.

"There are two reasons people break up during this time," she says. "The first being that people are under a lot of stress, so if you have been having troubles in your relationship and there are unresolved issues there and then you go through another stressful period, it can exacerbate the issues and shine a light on the things that you're already struggling with."

The second reason, Goldstein says, "is that we start to think of the future. The Christmas and New Year period is really a point in time when we think about the year that has been and the next year that will be. We think about goals and what we want to achieve and thinking about if the person we're with is going to be a part of that phase. And if you're spending time with your family, it's only natural that you will think about if the person you're with is someone you want to invite into your family fold longterm. We start considering the longevity of a relationship and how happy we are," she says.

Dr Nikki Goldstein. Source: Facebook.

"There really isn't another period of time where we think about the state of our relationships so clearly," she says.

When Goldstein said this, I felt guilty about the wave of reassurance that came over me.

In two short minutes of conversation, she'd perfectly summarised what I had experienced all those years ago and struggled to explain to others ever since. Yes, it was a time of merriment and cheer and possibly the worst day in the history of mankind to hurt someone, but for reasons I still don't fully know how to put into words, at that time, I simply could not keep on keeping on for any longer. There were no more future Christmases left in me.

breaking up over christmas

Having said that, though, Goldstein also says it's important to remember that given the time of year, you may be overthinking things.

"We're talking about Christmas, not cancer," she says. "There's just so much extra stress around this time of year, so it's worth thinking about if there are real issues there that this time is going to shine a light or if you're just being impacted by the craziness of this year."

But if despite it all, you, just like me, find yourself newly single over Christmas, try not to worry too much. You'll have plenty of good company on Tinder come January.