The dilemma: you’re in a relationship, it’s not really working and you’ve been thinking about leaving.
But Christmas is coming up, with all its warm, fuzzy feelings and songs about robins and togetherness.
Half of you does want to end it; the other half worries that you’ll be out-Scrooging Scrooge.
But those pesky doubts just won’t go away – so is it OK to dump someone just before Christmas?
The answer is yes. Yes it is.
Look, I get it: you don’t want to hurt your partner. No doubt he or she is a lovely person. There’s a chance you can still make it work. Possibly you owe them money.
I also know (from lots of experience) that being alone over the festive season can be as tough as overcooked turkey. You can’t go to a bar, get on a bus or walk into the work stationery cupboard without bumping into a pair of canoodling lovers jacked up on eggnog and too many Quality Streets.
But your relationship does not abide by the seasons.
It does not care if it is Christmas, Easter or your annual eye test, and the problems will not improve or disappear, no matter how much tinsel you smother them with.
Couples can’t suddenly get on because there’s a twinkly tree in the living room and you can’t make yourself love someone just because he’s wearing reindeer antlers. If anything, that’s confirmation you should leave.
A bad relationship is for life, not just for Christmas, and the Yuletide is as good a time to break up as any.
Single bells: it’s fun to fly solo at Christmas
It’s never nice to think that someone is lonely at Christmas, but stringing them along like a strand of fairy lights won’t do them any favours.
It is also dishonest on your part, and disrespectful to the relationship you’ve had.
Santa will have you on his naughty list quicker than you can say ‘Vixen’.
Of course, breaking up means that you too will be alone over Christmas, but don’t be alarmed; if there is any time of the year to be single, it’s December.
From the first, it is acceptable to start drinking before midday.
You can eat chocolate, cheese and cranberry sauce – the primary and best of the food groups – for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Your social calendar will be permanently full with parties and carol concerts and ad hoc trips to the pub.
Throw in some sparkly party wear, Christmas movies and time off work and you’ve got everything you could possibly want from a season.
It may be cold outside but you don’t need a partner to keep you warm – just whack up the central heating.
Stay another day: the reality of carrying on
If the benefits of singledom don’t tempt you, then let’s consider what happens if you remain in the relationship. (Spoiler: it’s not good.)
If there’s one thing worse than feeling a bit lonely at Christmas, it’s feeling lonely when you’re expected to feel jolly.
Either you will spend the 25th with his family, wasting festive cheer and money on people you’ll never see again, and missing out on your dad’s famous chorizo stuffing (that he only makes but once a year).
Or your soon-to-be ex will spend Christmas at yours and your mum will sense that you’re miserable, because mums always know.
The third option is that you spend Christmas apart, fretting because you know you’ll have to end it come New Year.
The result is a lousy January for both of you, and January is already the worst month anyway.
Present and incorrect: you can’t hang on for the gift
‘I wanted the present’ is frequently cited as the reason why people don’t leave when they should – the theory being that if you’re going to walk away, you might as well do so with a big, fat, swag bag of gifts.
After all, you’ve dedicated time to this relationship – haven’t you earned them?
It goes both ways: maybe you bought your partner something deeply personal or non-refundable when the going was good and now you don’t know anyone else who wants/fits shirts monogrammed with his initials.
I hate to break it to you, but you cannot, should not, stay for the present.
Firstly, there is no guarantee it will be good (regular readers of mine will know that I once bought an ex a printer; another got an adopted otter) and if you break up in mid-December your partner still has time to take it back.
Instead of their gift, treat yourself to something you really want. Pay for it with the money you’ll save on mini breaks next year.
What a turkey: Christmas can ruin relationships
Contrary to what the song says, Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year for a lot of people – far from it.
Christmas is up there as one of the most tense and emotionally fraught times of the year. It is expensive. It is pressured. There are too many people in your house, most of them are drunk and a lot of them you dislike.
The best break ups, if there is such a thing, are the exact opposite: restrained, clear-cut and (ideally) sober.
They take place on neutral ground, there is conversation rather than yelling, and no one is wearing a novelty jumper.
Throw an ailing relationship into the middle of the Christmas melee and pow! The tension will tear you apart like a cheap cracker.
Happy Christmas: the war is over
If anything, the run up to Christmas is the best time to end a relationship.
Your ex can escape home to be looked after by his or her family, and they won’t have to take time off work to nurse their broken heart, so technically you’re saving them money.
Similarly, you can use the Christmas break to reflect on what it is you really want.
A new relationship? A casual fling? Or just to be on your own?
The New Year is a prime opportunity to tune into your own needs and focus on self-care.
Imagine: this could be the year you actually stick to those New Year resolutions.
If you are miserable in your relationship, give yourself the gift of freedom before the sleigh bells start ring-ting tingling.
As presents go, it’s the best one you’ll ever get.
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