Tackling the 'Turkey Drop'

November 28, 2012

Holidays are notorious for breakups. forgetting-sarah-marshall-break-up-image When I was in college (when I say that I sound eerily old, but I really mean when I was in college less than two years ago, this still happens now), we rather callously called it the 'Turkey Drop.' I'm hoping many of you avoided this, but for those of you who did suffer through the 'Drop,' or those of you who initiated it, never fear, Iris is here with (hopefully) wise words and great advice. This is on my mind for many reasons:

1. Of course I've been broken up with (in fact, on Valentine's Day, for three years in a row)

2. I've broken up with someone (for the record, it was not on Valentine's Day)

3. I've had a somewhat gruesome plethora of friends going through breakups recently

4. In my own, deeply uninteresting love-life, I was recently turned down by a guy I really liked. All of these situations suck. So how do we deal with these terribly trying times? My approach to supporting my friends is always to feed them. Feed them a lot. Feed them gelato and fro-yo and ice-cream and macaroni and cheese, probably mixed together. But how can we support our friends, and ourselves whilst maintaining a reasonable body weight?     These are my own tips, solely from my experience of being broken up with around a holiday.

1. It isn't the holidays fault! Valentine's Day became an oddly bitter day for me, especially odd since I am the kind of person who dresses all in pink and squeals nonstop during Valentine’s Day, regardless of my relationship status. Try your hardest to distance the breakup from the actual event; I promise it will make next year better, especially since it is unlikely you will convince the world to shun Thanksgiving/Christmas/Valentine's Day/Memorial Day because you want them to.

2. Talk to people! This is advice that I really need to take myself; I'm a very outgoing person but tend to clam up when I'm upset. That has never helped me, but talking to my friends often has. Even if they do not exactly understand because they were not as emotionally engaged with Prince William as you were, they will support you; in my case my friends reminded me that Prince Harry is both more fun and still available.

3. Take care of you. The hardest thing about breaking up with someone was worrying about hurting them- to the extent that I was my ex's shoulder to cry on about our relationship ending. There is an automatic and unfair onus on the breaker-upper, and though the one who was broken up with may be more upset, the person who did the breaking is also probably pretty broken, especially depending on the length of the relationship.

4. Don't be like this. Holding on to your anger and upsetness will most hurt yourself- BUT respect and accept the feelings you go through.

Break-ups suck. I then turned to one of the counselors at the Women’s Center to get her (infinitely wiser) input on this!

1. Why do you think people break up more during the holidays? For students, the holidays come at a stressful point in the academic semester. Those assignments that may have been put off are in a big pile that seems overwhelming, the reality of grades not being what you expected, etc. If a relationship is a source of stress rather than a source or support, ending it may feel like the best way to try to decrease anxiety and get re-focused on school work. If a relationship is also one that parents and family do not approve of, ending it during the holidays may be a way to avoid conflict at home. The focus of the holidays on being together and being happy may increase someone’s feelings about how they are not happy with their partner. Also some of the stress of the holidays can escalate problems that may have already existed in the relationship.

2.  How often do you see "Turkey drops" (long distance relationships that end over Thanksgiving)? Why do you think that is? In addition to issues discussed in number 1, some people use the holidays as a time of self-reflection especially once finals are over and you can slow down. Long distance relationships are harder to maintain and may feel less satisfying when you are not so busy and are wanting more companionship.

3.  What advice would you give someone who wants to break up with their significant other over the holidays? Should they hold off? If you have specific reasons to end a relationship it’s best to do it as  soon as you feel the need to regardless of whether it is a holiday or not.  Be clear about what needs are not being met and do not leave it vague like “maybe I’ll see you at a party” –this just adds to confusion and unclear boundaries. If you have already bought the person a gift you can decide to go ahead and give it or donate it to a worthy cause. The main advice is don’t lead someone on so that they are expecting to be with you during the holidays when you know you want the relationship to end.

4. Most importantly, what advice would you give someone who has been broken up with over the holidays? Grief and loss are hard at the holidays because there is so much focus on people being together to celebrate. Allow yourself some time to acknowledge your feelings and have some good support people you can talk to if needed. Also balance this with a focus on the meaning of the holidays that goes beyond you and your former partner. If you have a spiritual tradition, maybe participate in this more or find somewhere to do volunteer work to help you re-focus. You might re-think whether to attend social events that will be all pairs or host your own social event where there is a good mix of single people. You might treat yourself to something special that you would not have done with your partner – like if you love the ballet but he/she didn’t. The main advice is to be pro-active about your grief and don’t minimize it. ----- So enjoy your holidays, embrace both the joys and pains of your relationships, and should the turkey drop (even after Thanksgiving), remember that you have a world of people around you who care. See your friends, cry to your family, speak to someone at the Women's Center, even whisper your feelings to TJ's statue. You'll feel better, we promise. - Lingerr Senghor

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