'Tis the season for a lot of things, like spending your entire paycheck on gifts for other people, spending way too much time back home with your family members, or just spending a lot of quality time with the open bars at holiday parties.
While December is known to be a popular month for people to pop the marriage question, it can also be a month that wrecks havoc on relationships.
Here are the five main reasons why so many people break up during the holiday season, according to experts.
1. Your Hormones Are Out of Wack
Vacation may carry the reputation of being a good thing for your mind and your body, it can mess with your hormones, therefore switching up how you feel about your partner, all of a sudden.
"Stressful work lives, childcare, etc., cause a lot of people to over produce cortisol (the stress hormone), and to ‘run on adrenaline,’ which your body essentially uses to keep you going when your energy tank is empty,” says Elesa Zehndorfer, PhD and physiology expert and writer who recently authored ‘The Physiology of Emotional & Irrational Investing: Causes & Solutions.’
"Add caffeine and sugar which a lot of people use to keep going, and it leads to a perfect storm where a vacation — which signals to your body that you can relax and don't need the adrenaline anymore — causes an energy crash, adrenal fatigue, and often a cold or minor depressive feelings (the adrenaline keeps colds at bay). When you suddenly have down time, feel low, and aren't getting the dopamine hits from work successes (satisfaction of meeting deadlines) or the level of stress you have become accustomed to (aka, a lot of us are addicted to stress), then you get further withdrawal symptoms, which make you irritable. Add all this together — with suddenly a lot of time to think — and it's highly likely that you will take your negative feelings on a loved one, blame them for your bad mood, or equate (wrongly) feeling low on vacation to not being with the right person ... which can cause break ups."
2. Both of You Aren't Riding the Engagement Train
Holiday season is a time when there is an expectation of a marriage proposal, and if one person is crossing their fingers and praying for it to happen, and the other is preparing to run for the hills, the end of the relationship might be near.
"December is the most popular month for engagements and Christmas Day is the most popular day of the year," says Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, and founder of online relationship community, Relationup, and Relationship Therapist. "During the holiday season, one of you might be waiting for a proposal or one of you might be trying to avoid that outcome. You may end the relationship because it isn’t going in the direction you want or you may end it because you realize that you don’t want it to go in that direction.
Either way, you realize you are not on the same page about the direction of the relationship."
3. You Don't Want to Bring Your Partner Home
It's a big sign that you are ready to take your relationship to the next level when you are eager and excited to book joint travel with your partner home for a holiday. But if you are having second thoughts about doing that, something could be wrong.
"You enjoy dating your current partner, but realize that you aren’t ready to make a statement by inviting them to your family holiday functions,” says Milrad. "You aren’t sure if they are long-term material or if they will fit in with your family dynamics. You may end the relationship to avoid dealing with this or they end it because the fact that you didn’t invite them speaks a thousand words about your relationship."
4. The Holidays Bring Out the Worst In Us
While it might seem like holiday season is all about joy, happiness, and opening up presents, it can be a time where a person's stress level hits a high note.
"The holidays can sometimes reveal really bad habits in a person,” says Tiya Cunningham-Sumter, a Certified Relationship Coach & Blogger. "Whether it's dealing with stress, emotions or overspending, you can learn a lot about a person by watching them navigate through the holiday season. Unfortunately, many of those habits are unattractive to the other partner."
5. Your Traditions Don't Line Up
When it's time to start planning out what you both want to do for the holiday season, you may, for the first time, see a big conflict arise over having different views on traditions and even gifts. "Some might be waiting for the expensive jewelry (the big ring) or a romantic trip, while others might think a sweater or CD is just fine," says Dr. Shay Thomas, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT). "Anxiety about buying the 'perfect' gift or responding in the 'appropriate' way can lead to total avoidance! Also, because the holidays are both spiritual and festive for many, this time of year may also bring religious diversity factors to light, for example, the 'Chrismahanukwanzakah' dilemma."
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