There’s never a “good” time for a breakup, but the holidays can be an especially rough one. If you find yourself suddenly single this Christmas — or at any holiday or big event — here are some tips to help you survive the season solo:
Don’t be afraid to cancel.
Don’t fake a smile and try to “stick it out” until the holidays are over before you go your separate ways. Even if it means bowing out as your ex’s date to his buddy’s New Year’s Eve wedding or disappointing a family member or two who were looking forward to challenging your ex to Scrabble rematch on Christmas Eve, cancelling plans is the healthiest option for a couple on the outs.
Give people a heads-up.
Before you show up for Christmas dinner at your grandmother’s, let her know (or let your parents or a sibling tell her for you) to avoid any “Where’s [ex’s name]?” awkwardness. If you can spread the news before any big event, you won’t have to explain why you’re dateless this holiday season — and you can help prevent your loved ones from unintentionally putting their feet in their mouths.
Be gracious — but reserve your right to privacy.
People will say thoughtless things. They will say unhelpful things. Try to be gracious, understanding that family and friends care about you and want to be encouraging, even if it comes out wrong. That said, you don’t have to share any of the details of the breakup to anyone, regardless of how hard they pry. Be firm but gentle and explain that you want to celebrate Christmas, not rehash your breakup.
Let yourself mourn.
It’s okay to be sad. Expect that this year the holidays will be a little difficult. Acknowledge that it sucks, then find a quiet evening or two to curl up in front of a fire and read a book, watch a sappy Christmas TV special, and/or eat too many gingerbread cookies.
Focus on joy.
You enjoyed the holidays before you met your ex, right? Focus on the people and things you love this season. Attend a candlelit service with your mom. Bake cookies with your cousins. Visit an old friend who’s in town for the holidays. Pamper yourself with a massage. Take the time to recalibrate before reentering the post-Christmas “real world” again.
Don’t call your ex.
Whatever you do, don’t call your ex. Sure, a certain Mariah Carey song makes you think of him/her multiple times a day, but that doesn’t mean that you should do anything about it. Expect that a broken heart will take some time to heal. In the meantime, try to maintain a clean break and focus on all the good things the new year might bring.