Breaking up is never straightforward: that’s why it’s often-avoided, much-dreaded and internationally-renowned as the arduous task that it is. But, if your relationship has hit turbulent and troubled waters, and you’ve been thinking of calling it quits for some time, it’s better to tackle the task earlier rather than later.
And, even though cuddly scarves and Christmas music are creeping in, don’t be put off from cutting ties just because we’ve entered the season of goodwill and giving. Breaking up before Christmas may seem cruel, but it will let both of you find comfort in your familial homes this Christmas, giving you the time, support and roast dinners you’ll need to start 2018 afresh.
But – like any gentleman – you must approach the issue with sensitivity. The last thing you want to gift your soon-to-be ex-partner this Christmas is a meltdown mid-way through the Queen’s speech. For a more relaxed, less emotionally-draining Yule, here are our six key rules of breaking up before this year’s festivities are in full flow…
Make sure it’s the right decision
Before deciding how to break up with someone, convince yourself that it’s something you’re certain about. Couples often get back together pretty quickly after an initial break up due to cold feet – something that will make your yuletide celebrations awfully awkward.
Sooner rather than later
Whenever you ruminate about breaking up, your gut wrenches. But don’t be selfish. The sooner you do it, the more time your partner has to heal, therefore lessening the chances of him or her having a completely disastrous Christmas day. Nothing will prove more selfish or Grinch-like than dropping the news near December 25 – a bombshell no amount of mulled wine will salve.
Do it face-to-face. No exceptions.
This is paramount. No Whatsapp messages, Facebook essays or 140-character-long Tweets. No letters via pigeon and absolutely no proxies to do the deed on your behalf. Few things are more cowardly than refusing to shoulder your responsibility. Be a gentleman and face the task head-on. Meeting up in person will give the relationship the closure it needs, and remember to give complete eye contact when in conversation.
Choose your setting wisely
A break up can be one of the most emotional things you experience in life, so ensure that you’re doing it in an environment in which both you and your partner can process what’s happening. Avoid meeting at your own apartment (too intimate) and definitely swerve a restaurant as meals can often be dragged out, leaving both you and your fellow diners uneased. Try somewhere neutral – like a quiet park or independent coffee shop (chains like Starbucks can often have a crèche-like feel, which is a mood-killer in itself) – and keep the meeting brief.
Straddle a fine-line between being straightforward and empathetic. You want to get your message across, but don’t do it in a brutal, humbug manner. “This is definitely not working. Ciao!”, will not suffice. Explain what’s happening (“I think we should break-up), give an explanation (discuss your feelings rather than provide a list of all their faults) and practise your lines a few times beforehand to guarantee that there’s no awkward stuttering à la Hugh Grant – tripping up over your words will not only make the task even more arduous, but will also keep your partner in the dark for even longer.
Be firm and stick to your guns
There was a reason (or several) as to why you decided to do this in the first place – backtracking on yourself and refusing to go through with it won’t only cause another inevitable break up in the future, but it’ll also leave your partner insecure and questioning what they’d done wrong (not the finest of presents you can gift someone). Moreover, will you be able to bear sharing a moment under the mistletoe knowing full well that you’ve regretted your decision to not end things? Probably not. You may feel guilty in the short-term, but in the long-run you’ll be a better man for it…
To find out more about festive etiquette, read our guide on what not to do during Christmas.