Just got dumped, don’t worry you are not alone; evidence from Facebook status updates finds that the term “we broke up because…” is more popular in the two weeks prior to the Christmas holidays than any other time of the year. While there are many reasons why relationships end, the timing of breakups in the pre-Christmas season can be explained by some pretty unromantic economic theories.
Imagine we have a couple that is looking forward to the Christmas season. Each one knows how committed they are to the relationship, but does not know if their lover is fully committed; only the individual themselves has that information.
Relationships require an investment of time and energy and so each would like to know if the relationship is going to last before investing too much. As a rule, we only give our hearts to those who we feel are likely to reciprocate.
The two people in our imaginary couple might tell each other they are in love, but words are cheap and presents are expensive. It of course is not simply that it’s easier to break up than to give a present but that is one reason.
A person who is fully committed to their relationship probably already knows what their partner would like and so can find a perfect gift fairly easily. A person who is less committed to the relationship, will find looking for perfect gift less of a pleasure and more of an unwelcome chore.
While it is too early to know what gifts we will receive, it is not too early for gift givers to wondering why they are spending time looking for a gift when they don’t see themselves with that person in the future.
Christmas is also a busy time of year for socialising with co-workers, friends and family. Being in a committed relationship generally means attending social events together, even when your friend’s party sounds like it will be more fun than spending the evening at your partner’s office party. However, not going to your partner’s party sends him or her a clear signal that you are not committed to the relationship.
It isn’t hard to imagine that a number of people typing “we broke up because…” in their Facebook status this week, will be ending it with the phrase “he/she didn’t seem to think that it was important to spend time with me” after having to spend an awkward evening alone at a Christmas party.
Finally, nothing says commitment like the phrase “Let’s spend Christmas with your family, we can always spend next Christmas with mine!” Uttering this sentence to your beloved could have two possible effects; it could fill them with joy (he/she thinks we will be together next Christmas!) or with horror (he/she thinks we will be together next Christmas!?). How he/she reacts could determine whether or not you will survive as a couple to the next peak breakup period… Valentine’s Day.