This is the time of year that Americans pack on a pound or few, while a quiet majority actually loses weight. Like an average of an entire boyfriend/girlfriend.

Fall is summer’s hangover. During summer we are often busy with vacations, events, outings, and cruising through the long, action-packed days of our relationships. Any musings whether or not we want to stay with someone are filed away for later appraisal. Come November, when we set the clocks back, a disproportionate number also set their relationships back … to over. Sometimes all that holds a summer connection together is a late August trip to Sea World. Enough distraction can make the most dysfunctional tryst last too long. Oftentimes a willing, warm body is better than the quest for one.

And for those longing for a summer wedding of their own – or at least an engagement – the close of another summer brings the realization that it won’t happen for another calendar year. Therein buds the seeds of relational doubt.

People take this instance to end it because the idea of spending another holiday unhappy is unbearable. According to social media status updates, the first seasonal breakup peak, coined the “Spring Clean,” goes down in March. But the biggest love purge befalls about two weeks before the winter holidays. Fall is love’s laxative. At least take a turkey leg on your way out.

“Of all my mistakes, you were the mistakiest.”

Dumping someone over a holiday like Thanksgiving is harsh. And doing it over the December Holidays just makes you a hole in the ass. But it yields timeless tunes like “Blue Christmas” (Elvis); “Another Lonely Christmas” (Prince and the Revolution); “Last Christmas” (WHAM!) or the lesser known classic “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” (Tom Waits). The list of Holiday breakup songs is long; each marinated in tears and Paxil.

Breakups suck. So does starting a new year with someone best relegated to the annals of boyfriend/girlfriend history. And if you don’t do it by the New Year, you’ll be a Valentine’s Day dumper, which will result in unsavory karmic mojo. So if you’re not willing to stick it out through the candy hearts and edible undies, than you’ve got to extract in early fall. Most of us – particularly men – are too oblivious to take note of any relationship discontent. We’re busy with snow sports and putting on a high-caloric winter coat.

“… We interrupt this relationship to bring you football and snowmobiling season.”

I’d love to convey all the scientific attributes to the fall peak in breakups, but love doesn’t make sense. Neither did the pilgrims. But if I were to guess, I’d say it can be ascribed to any of the following:

  • He didn’t like your family.
  • She’s a vegan and you won’t stop eating chicken tenders in bed.
  • He gets wasted every New Year’s Eve and promises this will be his year of steady employment.
  • She makes you attend Ugly Sweater parties and you’re allergic to cotton-knit blends … and fun.
  • It’s snowboard season and you’d like to find a new snow-bunny.
  • She makes you axe-murder a 20-foot Douglas fir to adorn in tinsel to slowly watch die indoors.
  • On trips home to see your family, he claps whenever the plane lands.

The coming season is a check-in marker: Do I want to spend the New Year with this person? The holidays can be quite stressful on romantic relationships due to time constraints, high expectations, financial strain, and fruitcake. Celebrating meaningfully is hard to do with someone you are ready to break up with, or who is ready to break up with you. As devastating the timing and blow, it’s better to know.

Dating sites typically report January as the peak time for new members. If things must end now, at least you’ll have a couple of months to grieve before reinventing yourself, full of vigor in the New Year. There are other upsides to a fall breakup. There is a good chance you will have family and friends on which to lean over the Holidays. Misery loves company and stuff. And though you may be asking yourself with whom you’ll play Naughty Santa or drunk-kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve, you weren’t always a love-duo during the Holidays. There was a time that you rolled like a Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Lawrence through Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas. You reveled in merriment and the cockles of your heart were independently warmed.

ME: “I want a unicorn for Christmas.”
SANTA: “Be realistic.”
ME: “Okay, I want a girlfriend.”
SANTA: “What color do you want your unicorn?”

In my own Holiday breakup, I was dating a beautiful, thirty-something blonde in San Francisco named “Katie.” We had been dating exclusively for a few months, and I was excited about our potential future. It was early December, and I opted to surprise her with a pricey and shapely conifer. It was pretty the sexiest farm-raised tree I’d ever seen. I plunked down the cash, lovingly placed it in my truck and made the hour drive north to San Francisco, where I triple-parked on a sidewalk just to get it into her tiny, $3,700 per month studio where, once untethered, it filled all 450 sq. feet. By morning, however, our relationship ended when she picked a huge argument while in a fit of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I never saw her or the tree again. I still miss the scent. Of the tree.

How to Keep Your Post-Breakup Holiday Swagger:

  1. Spend time with family. They know all your deviancies and flaws, and still love you.
  2. Rum and eggnog.
  3. Volunteer! It’s the perfect time to start a giving tradition. And you might meet a hottie at the soup kitchen with a heart as big as yours. Start HERE.
  4. Take a Holiday trip. Not to the mall, but to Bali or anywhere with vast stretches of white sand, brown legs, and neon drinks.
  5. Breakup calories don’t count if eating your emotions makes you feel better. But go easy. You’ll hate yourself come spring when you can’t see your knees.
  6. Learn to make candles. Everyone loves a candle. Maybe not – but I do. So send them to me.
  7. Make a kick-ass music playlist to keep you amped. Nothing you listened to together, and no garbage like Maroon 5 or Adam Levine not marooned.
  8. Once you put down the powdered rum balls, hit the gym or trails. Make exercise and yourself a priority
  9. Pay no mind to the seemingly happy couples you see canoodling during the Holidays. Statistically, there is a 50% chance they’re headed for similar demise at some point.
  10. Most importantly, fill your social calendar. Not with binge-drinking events like SantaCon – but substantial time with people who matter. Holiday breakup buddies are vital.
  11. Do the opposite of what your sadness or breakup depression is driving you to do, like be alone. It’s the perfect time to make the new year all about you and your comeback.

And try to skip rebound sex under the presumption that, “The quickest way over one, is under another.” This is a brief distractor that invariably turns into date-therapy and sound-boarding your woes on to some innocent sex-philanthropist gracious enough to get naked with this dejected version of you. Your sole focus is limiting carnage to yourself or some unwary prey from Tinder or Bumble. This type of “cleansing the sex palate” often leads to things like herpes and child support.

“I’ve been single for a while and I have to say, it’s going well, Like…it’s working out. I think I’m the one.”  – Emily Heller