Dump month: Can your relationship make it through December?

‘Tis the season to be … dumped. December may be a time for joy and goodwill – but it’s also the most popular time for couples to break up. Here’s how to get your relationship through ‘dump month’.

When UK statisticians analysed Facebook posts featuring break-up messages, they found one day in particular stood out.

That day? December 11 – exactly two weeks before Christmas.

Which means instead of snogs under the mistletoe, you may just find yourself sobbing into your eggnog! Talk about timing.

Dump month: Why is December a common time to break up?

There’s a reason Taylor Swift’s Back to December may carry more weight than just being a reference to her break-up with Twilight star Taylor Lautner in 2009.

Relationship expert Simone Milasas says the whole of December can be a tricky time for love.

Many celebrities have called it quits in their relationships in December.

Think High School Musical sweethearts Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in 2010, Dua Lipa and Anwar Hadid in 2021 or Pete Davidson and Emily Ratajkowski in 2022.

Simone, co-author of Relationship – Are You Sure You Want One?, says: “My take is that when December comes around people look at their partner and think, ‘Is this the person I want to kiss on New Year’s Eve? The person I want to introduce to my family?’

“And you’ve no idea how many people find the whole idea of gift giving – the intimacy of it and knowing what to choose – totally terrifying.”

Dating coach Renee Slansky agrees December can be a tricky time for couples.

“We’ve been almost mentally convinced the end of the year could also signal an end of a relationship and time for a fresh start,” she says.

“Coupled with holiday stress and family and social pressure, it’s no wonder that couples choose to take an easier way out and just simply spilt.”

In the US there’s a similar phenomenon known as the turkey drop (coined because it typically occurs over Thanksgiving weekend) where freshman students returning home from college for the first time break-up with their high school boyfriend or girlfriend.

How your relationship can survive December ‘dump month’

If you’re heading into the festive period as a couple, our experts recommend:

Give each other space

“The man cave is real and men and women process in a different way. Be in allowance of your partner,” Simone says.

Communicate freely

Try to have open communication with your partner about what their expectations and frustrations are, Renee advises.

“Set some boundaries around social and family events so you don’t feel pressured or stressed out,” she says.

Consider your partner’s wants and needs

Ask your partner what you can contribute to each other to create joy and happiness, advises Simone.

Think about the little things that will help your relationship stay strong.

How to survive a December dump month break-up

While break-ups are never easy, use the sudden extra time to discover what it is you really want in life suggests Simone.

“Now’s the time to find out what it’s like to ‘be you’ – take up something you’re always wanted to do,” she says.

But if you’re the one doing the breaking, a 2017 US study suggests it’s better to be upfront and direct about it.

2023: Year of the celebrity break-up?

December may not be the only time Taylor Swift’s All Too Well (10 Minute Version) is played on loop in 2023.

Celebrity break-ups and divorces have been noticeably plentiful this year. Among them:

  • Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness officially ended their 27 years of marriage
  • Sofía Vergara and Joe Manganiello divorced after being married for seven years
  • Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner ended their four-year marriage
  • Britney Spears and Sam Asghari separated after a year of marriage
  • Taylor Swift’s break-up with Joe Alwyn after six years of dating
  • Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez filed for divorce after two years of being married

But while the year may seem like a test for relationships, all you need is to survive past the fast approaching “dump month” and have yourself a merry little Christmas – whether you’re a part of a couple, or not.

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Written by Liz McGrath. Updated by Melissa Hong in October 2023.