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Opinion Breaking up (around Christmas) is hard to do

Ending a relationship at this time of year can magnify the perception that everyone else is having a great time with their loved ones.

EVEN IF YOU’RE better off being broken up, it might not feel great to be single at Christmas. So, what’s the best way to deal with it?

Why me and why now? To (sort of) borrow a phrase from that classic film Casablanca, ‘Of all the times in all the world he/she breaks up with me now’. Breaking up at Christmas time can be a bitter experience. When this does happen it magnifies the perception that everyone else is having a great time with their loved ones. This, of course, only adds to our sense of isolation and loneliness.

If it is us who has done the breaking up we can feel a great sense of freedom that we don’t have to go through those dreadful Christmas rituals again. But if we have an ounce of feeling there is a tinge of guilt associated with making the break at this time of year. We may feel we should have done the breaking up earlier in the year. Unfortunately there is never a good time to break up.

There are different ways of coping – and some are destructive

If the break in the relationship is final then we have no choice other than to live with it. However, we do have the choice in how we live with it. This fact can, and indeed should be, a spur to create something positive from an emotional disaster. We have choices in how we deal with every event.

You may think that Christmas is a time for families and being together, and your only choice after being dumped is to hide away for a few days. We all have different ways of coping; some destructive, some not. Watching films, listening to music and reading literature that reinforce a positive view of life certainly helps. We must ditch all the nihilistic literature, films and music they only serve to subvert a positive view of life.

If we believe that our only worth is if we are in a relationship, then we have a rather narrow view of ourselves. We need to recognise our self worth more.

Emotional first aid

The break up of a family involving a child or children is particularly difficult. As I said earlier there is never a ‘good’ time to break up, particularly when children are involved. But, be it Christmas or not, we must face up to our responsibilities and the choices we make.

If we do find ourselves single again over this festive period we must use this time to recover and recuperate. The break up would have been a long time in coming, even if the announcement came as shock. We need some emotional first aid, and then to have a bit of ‘me time’ to help us process what has happened.

The most important thing we can do for ourselves is to sleep and then develop a plan for the future. We may do this by getting back in touch with friends both here and those who may be living abroad. If we have a job, and we now find ourselves single, perhaps we could offer to work over Christmas. A colleague who has children, for example, and has been booked to work may appreciate the time off, and we would appreciate the distraction of work. I have done this myself and it worked for me.

The narrative at this time is all about families, warmth and laughter. Those of us on our own know how isolated that can make us feel. Our situation, however, is temporary. A good idea is to write out our action plan for 2015 whilst revelling in some ‘emotional first aid’. We should also remember others who are alone. We are all linked together. We are remembered by those to whom we showed some kindness and support in their time of need. We may have transformed their life by our tiny act of kindness. That’s the kind of present we all wish to receive.

Tony Moore is a counsellor for Relationships Ireland. Relationships Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that offers confidential relationship counselling services based on ability to pay. For more information or to book a consultation you can contact 1890 380 380, email or visit

Column: How do we get over losing the love of our life?

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