As Santa retreats to his cozy elf brothel and the temperature drops faster than a pair of tuxedo pants at a Texas prom, we all settle into the month of January.
For some, Jan’ry means the shedding of the old; old habits, old socks, and old jobs.
For others, the inaugural month of 2015 means the adoption of the new; new styles, new schedules, and new diets.
But for many, through the eyes of romance, January means both; the tossing of wilted flames into the fire-pit and the forward march into uncharted lands of singlehood and shiny new genitalia.
In other words, people gon’ get dumped.
According to much research and polling, January sees about twice as many break-ups as any other month of the year with some polls citing upwards of sixty percent of people having dumped someone during the 31-day stretch at some point in their lives. The trend has gotten so pronounced that this month has been playfully dubbed National Break-Up Month across a number of countries – not to be confused with National BAKE-UP Month, during which people are actually excited to see muffin-tops.
But much like that envelope-sealed $100 bill from your grandmother at Christmas, this isn’t much of a surprise.
“Cabin fever” is a real force to be reckoned with; during the summer months, couples spend an average of ten hours and five minutes a day at home while in the winter months, that spikes up to fourteen hours and forty-eight minutes – an abrupt increase of 47%.
Now layer onto that spike a dip in finances after holiday splurging, nose-pinching amounts of “family” time, 5pm sunsets and a windfall of selfish resolutions, and you have yourself a Chatelaine-worthy recipe for homemade dumplings.
But we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves here; a more-than-negligible portion of this behavior is based on pretty irrational, misplaced anxiety. Of course many of these break-ups are well-considered and often stirring months before the egg nog ever hits the shelves. But many are also poorly concluded overreactions to internal conflicts.
Here are three things to keep in mind this month on the off-chance you’ve got a fidgety hand on the ol’ romantic ripcord.
It’s Not Their Fault You Get Bummed Out During the Winter
So maybe Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing, but it’s your thing. You need to distinguish between someone who snowballs your downers and someone who doesn’t always have the gear to pull you out of your snowflake funks.
Too often we see people blaming their partners for their own crumby winter moods or justifying resentment by attacking their partner’s poor performance as a hero. This isn’t really fair. Yes, often the right person will be able to flip your frowns. But if you’re chipping at someone else because you’re having paralyzing tank-top withdrawal, you’re applying the pressure to the wrong places.
Don’t Assume that Someone Will Interfere with Your Resolutions
Just because a resolution is built for one doesn’t mean it will break with two. It might be the most selfish resolution on the planet and it might result in less time with your partner and more time focusing on yourself. But don’t make your romantic disjunction a self-fulfilling prophecy by exaggerating your partner’s frustration or underestimating their ability to adapt.
If you want to take a resolution or some alleged need for inward attention and use it to garnish the real, more piercing reasons you have for wanting a break-up, then fine; that’s your take on diplomacy. But one of the most insulting and backwards things you can do in a relationship is make someone out to be a bigger nuisance than they really are.
It’s Totally Normal to Need Some Space After Spending a Lot of Time With Someone
Especially when family is involved.
Just because you didn’t come out of the holiday gauntlet with glitter on your cheeks and a countdown to date night doesn’t mean that something is wrong with your relationship. For several weeks you’ve been eating calorie bricks, swigging depressants, and dodging stale conversation you wouldn’t wish upon your most hated cousin (okay, you would). You can’t expect that to not take a toll – more importantly, you can’t assume that your partner is the one responsible for collecting that toll from some fogged up booth of oblivion.
Your partner won’t always be a light at the end of the tunnel but that’s very different than being the thing that pulled you down there in the first place. It’s natural to need a breather. Don’t be too quick to point fingers for things that have no real culprit.
Much like the crowd-favourite crystal ball of “travelling together”, co-piloting the holiday season and its January blizzard aftermath can be a great test of compatibility. But it can also be a misleading one. So before you go ahead and become another statistic, it’s always a good idea to double-check your math.