Out with the old and in with the new — that’s the mentality for many as one year ends and another begins. So, if you’ve been considering ending your current relationship, it makes sense why you might want to capitalize on those vibes and cut ties. But is the start of a new year a good time to break up? Or is it insensitive to break up with someone so close to the holidays? Ultimately, experts say that the beginning of a year can be a fitting time to split, but only if you're certain that you're not just antsy for a change, and that you actually feel ready to end the relationship.
Steve Kane, a relationship expert, author, and founder of gethappy.life, asserts that there’s really no perfect time of year to break up. That said, if you’ve been trying to muster up the courage to broach the subject of breaking up, Kane says that New Year’s presents a fitting opportunity to pull the plug on a romance that's no longer serving you.
“It's the season of both reflection and looking forward — parting ways with things which no longer feel appropriate, and starting more useful habits and approaches,” he explains.
As a general rule, Kane believes that the best way to approach a breakup is to rip off the bandaid ASAP, rather than putting it off and delaying the inevitable pain. However, it’s important to be mindful that the holiday season can be an emotionally challenging time for lots of people. That’s why it’s important to be super clear on your decision to split, and waiting for the start of a new year may allow you to gain that necessary perspective.
“Our culture tells us to be super happy and grateful and immerses us in unrealistic images,” says Kane. “It can wear us down. Or, for all sorts of good reasons, the holidays remind us of things, people or situations we miss, regrets we have or aspirations we have that seem so very remote.”
Kane recommends checking in with yourself before you kick off a new year with a breakup. Ask yourself: Am I thinking about breaking up my relationship right now because it's what's right for me? Or am I feeling so overwhelmed with various emotions that I feel desperate to just change something? If I do break up, will I still feel that was the right thing a month or two from now? Or with the holidays long over, will I be left wondering “what was I thinking?”
Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching, agrees that this is a decision that shouldn’t be made hastily.
“Don’t get caught up in the ‘new year, new me’ craze,” she tells Elite Daily. “Really think about why you’re breaking up with them. Are they just your excuse for the other things you haven’t changed yet? Leaving a relationship won’t automatically make you a new person.”
It’s only natural to crave a clean slate at the beginning of a new year. However, Martinez notes that for your partner, starting off the year with a breakup can set a negative tone. That’s not to say that you need to ignore your instincts about ending the relationship for the sake of their feelings. But according to Martinez, waiting a couple of weeks after New Year’s (but well before Valentine’s Day) can go a long way in softening the blow, especially if the holidays are a tough time for your current SO.
Regardless of whether you decide to break up with them on New Year’s Day, a week later, or months from now, Kane says there are some guidelines that apply for breaking up with someone in a compassionate way. For one, get to the point quickly. Be careful about leaving any doors open or giving your partner opportunities for false hope. The more clearly you can communicate that you’re not interested in pursuing a relationship any longer, the better. Additionally, keep in mind that there’s no need to get into the nitty-gritty of every little thing they said or did that made you want to end things.
“There’s no benefit — and lots of bad karma and risk — in using the occasion to rehash past grievances or grudges,” Kane explains. “Breaking up is about moving on.”
Kane recommends starting with a statement of gratitude. For example, you might say, “I’m so thankful for the time we had together.” Then, you can explain that you’ve given it a lot of thought and that the relationship doesn’t feel right for you anymore. It’s up to you how much information you provide on why it doesn’t feel right, but always err on the side of being gentle. So, rather than pinpointing all of your partner’s annoying habits that conflict with yours, you could simply say, “I don’t think we’re compatible long-term.”
The bottom line? There is no “perfect“ or “best” time to break up with someone.
“There is only one right time — whenever you feel like it's the right thing to do,” says Kane. “You're never being kind or considerate to anyone — including yourself — if you linger in a relationship that you feel disconnected to, and in the process actively deceive your partner.”
In other words, the only way to know whether your New Year’s resolution should involve breaking things off with your boo is if you feel fully ready to move on from that relationship. If it’s just a change you seek, then consider all the other ways in which you could achieve a fresh start. In fact, there are many ways to make a long-term relationship feel new again if the spark has slowly faded. But if you’re truly feeling unfulfilled — and unwilling to work on — your current relationship, then the start of a new year may help inspire you to finally make moves. New Year’s may bring certain pressures for personal improvement, but only you can know what feels right regarding the future (or lack thereof) for your relationship. As long as you take an honest look at your current happiness, acknowledge and respect your core needs, and show compassion for your current partner, you can’t go wrong. Cheers to that.
Pricilla Martinez, life coach
Steve Kane, relationship expert, author, and entrepreneur