Last Wednesday, I ran into an old friend at the bakery. Doing the last-minute holiday hustle as we were, we didn't have much time to catch up. But we've e-mailed a bit this week, and he's asked me for my take on something, "as a dating blogger." To that, I responded with what is starting to become my standard disclaimer: A person who writes about dating for a living is kinda the opposite of a relationship expert! Still, he wanted my advice on a romantic situation. He's been seeing someone for about six months — but he's started to think it might be time for him to bow out. "We have a good time together," he says. "It's pleasant. Great, really. There's nothing to complain about, except I'm not sure I feel the intense connection that I want to feel (opens in new tab). I don't want to get married to her — maybe I'm just not ready to settle down (opens in new tab), or maybe I'm not willing to settle down till I meet someone who feels like more of a kindred spirit. And she's drunkenly indicated a few times now that she would like to get hitched. I suppose I could go on with this for another month or two — even three or four, maybe. But I'm starting to feel unethical (opens in new tab), like the proper thing is to do it sooner rather than later … Right?"
In an email he sent the very next instant, he said: "Does it hurt her more if I do it before Christmas or after?"
My gut instinct is that he should do it immediately — surely a break-up in early December isn't much more difficult than one in early January, and if this is going to happen eventually, why not now? And if she has a good relationship with her family, perhaps knowing she'll be celebrating with them at the end of the month might be a comfort to her. (If she doesn't, she will probably be feeling the holiday hangover for a while, so maybe even then, it's best to do it now.)
But if he doesn't do it soon, I think he shouldn't do it the week before Christmas, or any time too close to New Year's Day. We place disproportionate importance on things that happen at the close of another year, and I think a break-up around that time will carry so much symbolic weight that it'll be more painful than it might be if he just postponed for a few more days.
What do you folks think? If you were in her position, would you want the relationship to end now — or would you prefer to continue to date someone until the most wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful time of the year was done with? If you were he, how would you handle it?
(According to this recent graph of Facebook data (opens in new tab), related to when couples split — or, I guess, at least to when they change their relationship status — most end things in the weeks before Christmas and spring breaks. December 25 is the day when the fewest people call it quits. The rates on the 31st and the first of the year are extremely low, too.)
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