The weeks leading up to Christmas are the most popular time of the year to get engaged or dumped, according to vague but widely reported data analyses of Facebook, Match.com, and The Knot. This is because the holidays are “replete with opportunities to signal how committed we are to our relationships,” economist Marina Adshade explains in Time. If you think about it, Thanksgiving through New Year’s (Valentine’s Day, even!) is basically a series of high-emotional-stakes rituals that force couples to demonstrate their commitment more publicly and more concretely than exchanged I love yous.
If you break up at Christmas, it is probably because you or your beloved were “unwilling to pay the cost” of sending commitment signals, Adshade says, such as finding a thoughtful gift, skipping your friend’s rager for his boring office party, or playing nice at her parents’ house. If you get engaged, it might be because you have suddenly realized you don’t even mind going to his sister’s Christmas cookie swap this year, or every other year until you die. (Conversely, Adshade observes, nothing impels an ambivalent girlfriend to the breakup talk like, “Let’s spend Christmas with your family, we can always spend next Christmas with mine!”)
There’s something kind of humane about the collective do-or-die relationship moment, like a trade deadline in professional sports. Sure, the freshly single will have to face a lot of rings on Instagram, but at least they will be thrust back into the cold, dark world in the company of a bunch of other dumpees, all of them surrounded by snacks, booze, and a seasonal imperative to socialize. “Don’t crawl up and die,” advises the Daily News’s Do’s and Don’ts of Holiday Break-Ups. “Get back out there. After all, no one should be alone during the holidays!”