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Dealing with a Break-Up During the Holidays

Dealing with a Break-Up During the Holidays

Returning home for the holidays can be difficult to stomach under normal circumstances. When you add a break up to the recipe, you’ve got something harder to swallow than even the driest of turkeys. 

“Turkey Dump”

With Thanksgiving coming up, I’m reminded of the phenomenon referred to (so unsympathetically) as the Turkey Dump. If you’re unfamiliar, this is when college and university students who live away from home return for Thanksgiving and promptly break up with their significant others. According to data collected in 2009 from Facebook status updates (by data journalist David McCandless and design technologist Lee Byron), it isn’t just a myth. Indeed, they noticed break-up rates began to increase around Thanksgiving and peaked about 2 weeks before the winter holidays and they saw a spike again during spring break.

Curious about why it happens? Some speculate it’s because the holidays present a whole new set of expectations in a relationship that can feel all too “real” (e.g. meeting the family and friends); others postulate it’s because the holidays turn attention to the opportunities and options up ahead.

Getting Through It

If you’re among the heartbroken you probably don’t much care why it happens, so let’s turn to the important stuff. Here’s what to do if you find yourself in splitsville for the holidays:

  1. Remember that holidays can be spent with family and/or friends. Take this opportunity to foster the other valuable relationships you have in your life.
  2. Have a prepared response for those who ask about your relationship status. Know that you don’t owe anyone details about what happened.
  3. Try to meet new people at a holiday party or out with friends.
  4. Let yourself be distracted by the holiday festivities and events.
  5. Take a trip if you can⁠—near or far⁠—and get lost for the holidays.

It can really suck to have a relationship end during the holidays, but having a few days off can be a blessing. Use it to take some time to yourself and, if you’re able, be with those that you love. 

Struggling with the process? Here are some other tips that can help you keep it classy through a break-up. 

6 Tips For Asking For What You Need

6 Tips For Asking For What You Need

I don’t know about you, but the thought of asking others for what I need is extremely challenging. I pride myself on being independent and self-reliant, but I’ve come to realize that a necessary part of that is being able to ask others for what I need from them.

Try to imagine this scenario:

You’re on a date with someone you really like. You’ve been dating for a while and you’d like the relationship to be exclusive. You’re not sure if the other person shares your feelings. You’ve done some reflecting and it’s very important to you, so you decide it’s time to share your feelings and have a talk about exclusivity.

This talk involves asking for something you need, in this case, exclusivity in the relationship. What’s so scary about that?

In my own case, I fear that I might be rejected.

So, how do I ask for what I need despite my fears? Below is a list of things that help me prepare. Give them a try.

1. Check in with yourself 

Ask yourself, “How am I feeling about this conversation? Do I know what I want out of it?”

2. Map it out

Lay the key points you want to address out for yourself.

3. Imagine how the conversation will go

Consider other perspectives– try checking in with a trusted friend or family member and get their feedback.

4. Take a deep breath before going in for this talk

When you’re anxious your brain forgets to think and your body goes into survivor mode. Help your body and brain calm down by taking a few deep breaths. Some mindfulness practice would also be super helpful here.

5. Ask for what you need

Describe the situation and tell the person what you need (you can say something like “we’ve been seeing each other for a while now and I’m really starting to like you. I want to know where this is going. Do you see this becoming a long term relationship?”)

6. Acknowledge yourself

At this point, no matter what happens, remind yourself how brave you were to ask for what you need.

 

Remember, if we don’t ask for what we need, we won’t ever receive it. However, the other side of that means we also need to accept that it’s the other person’s right to say no. Whatever happens, at least we have the answers we need.

As always, you’ve got this!

How to Make New Friends

How to Make New Friends

Unlike our family, we can choose our friends. So in a way, friends are our “chosen family”. It’s important that we choose wisely and surround ourselves with supporting and loving people. Happy International Friendship Day!

Are you finding yourself lonely during your summer away from campus? Look no further!

Here are the top 3 places to check out to meet new peeps!

1. Meetup.com

This is a great website to meet people who share similar interests to you. Sign up on the website, choose the categories that interest you, i.e. sports, nature, movies, etc., and then get out there!

2. Bumble BFF

Yes, you read that correctly. Bumble⁠—best known for its dating app⁠—also has an app to meet your future bestie. Add a few photos of you in your element, write a brief bio and then start swiping!

4. Eventbrite

You’ve probably bought tickets on Eventbrite before (maybe even for a Shift event!) but did you know it’s also considered the “new” meetup.com. Perfectly Search by date, location, cost and category to find the perfect event to mingle with like-minded folks.

How to Face Your Parents

How to Face Your Parents

I recently made a surprise trip to see my parents in Michigan for my Mom’s birthday. Before I committed to it, I had to check in with myself about the decision because, while my relationship with my parents has always been complex, this year the struggle has been especially real. I had to hold both of them accountable for some tough and painful stuff. There was heartbreak on both sides. I stepped away and took time to process it all before I reconnected with them. 

I’ve made a concerted effort in my relationships with both of them to show up out of a desire to connect instead of out of obligation or any narrative of what daughters are “supposed” to do. After checking in with myself and deciding that visiting them felt right for me, I hopped in the car and made my way. It wasn’t a long visit but at one point, as I was walking out to the car from their home, I caught a glimpse of a chalkboard hanging on the wall. On the chalkboard was a long list to track donations my parents had recently made: Ocean Conservancy, Planned Parenthood, The Audubon Society, Doctors Without Borders, the ACLU, and more.

As soon as it caught my eye, a feeling of warmth spread through my body and sank into my bones. It was a beautiful reminder of one of the things my parents have done remarkably well: they seamlessly and effortlessly imparted to my siblings and me what an absolutely non-negotiable responsibility we have as citizens of this earth to give back in some capacity. 

Parenting is the hardest job on the planet on a good day. The caregiver-child relationship is unique and lays the groundwork for every person’s future intimate attachments. Parenthood often brings up our parents’ own childhood trauma and difficult experiences. The work of a lifetime comes in understanding our parents as people versus our parents as caregivers. We are allowed to say that our parents are good people but were inadequate caregivers. It’s okay to say that the parents we got were not the parents we needed. It’s okay to love them in spite of it or to distance ourselves because of it. 

My parents had a tough time as caregivers. But I can tell you as humans, they remain two of the kindest, sweetest people I’ve ever known. They wove kindness and generosity into the fabric of our family so effortlessly that I barely noticed until I reached a place where I could look back and see it in completion. It was as if, all of a sudden, a beautiful tapestry appeared out of thin air. 

The list of donations on the wall was a beautiful reminder of one of the things about my parents that I’m grateful for. But I was only able to get there because I gave myself the time, space and permission to heal and rage by any means necessary. 

We get so many social messages that say we need to love and support our family unconditionally and I’m here to tell you otherwise. Everyone has a different process and comfort level but if you are struggling with guilt because you don’t want to be around your family or talk to them, I want to reassure you that it is okay. It’s okay to prioritize your healing over your family members’ feelings. It’s okay to feel how you feel in its fullness. Maybe you’ll get to gratitude, maybe you won’t. But you can’t skip over the hurt and the pain on the road to healing. 

If you do find it comfortable to feel gratitude for your parents, don’t use it to rationalize cancelling out the hurt, anger, and pain you feel. We can feel opposing and conflicting feelings at the same time without having to cancel any out. Our relationships with our parents are the most complex of our lives. To view them only as black and white does a disservice to our healing process.  If you cover up the hurt with gratitude, you’ll only get so far. Your healing will reach a ceiling. 

There’s almost always some good stuff about our parents. But those things aren’t our first stops on the path to healing. They aren’t what needs to be seen and heard first. There is room for all of it but don’t be afraid of the darkness in the tunnel. If you’re courageous enough to move through it, you will find the light at the end. 

Online Dating: Knowing You’re Enough

Online Dating: Knowing You’re Enough

It seems like it’s become harder and harder to date. Dating articles range from “why did they ghost me?” to “why are they all hot and cold?” These behaviours are all marvels that are becoming more common as a result of the online dating and app world.

In this day and age, not only do we have multiple options, we also have to search through those multiple profiles, go on multiple dates, have multiple chats and potential connections, and possibly go through multiple break-ups in order to get to be with someone (that is, if monogamy and serious relationships are your thing).

“Just thinking about all of this and typing it makes me exhausted!

So, how on earth can we make sense of this messy online dating and app scene? Think about the following, always with your own needs as your true compass:

  • What do I want when it comes to dating? Do you want something casual, to see how things develop, a serious relationship, marriage?
  • What do I want in a relationship? Would you be okay with long distance, for example?
  • What do I need from a partner? For example: kind, thoughtful, considerate, attentive, etc.
  • What are my boundaries? What behaviours am I not okay with?
  • What is my gut saying about what’s going on? If it doesn’t feel right, check it out. If it still doesn’t feel right, consider saying no to this relationship.

“At the end of the day, only you will know what works for you. By being your authentic self, others who appreciate who you really are will take notice. It’s more than enough to give.

If you have questions on how to further explore and understand your relationships, it can also be helpful to explore this with a therapist

The 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages

Here’s a quick story that might sound familiar:

Jordan and Asa are partners. This past week Jordan picked up Asa from the airport and then cooked up a nice dinner while Asa unpacked. Afterwards, Jordan ran out to do the groceries for the week to give Asa some space to settle in and relax. That night before bed, Asa complained to Jordan, “You barely showed me any affection! Did you even miss me at all?” Asa even questioned whether Jordan wanted to be in a relationship. Jordan felt confused and upset. Everything Jordan had done that day was meant to welcome Asa home. How did Asa not even notice?

What’s going on here? Does Jordan not really care for Asa? Does Asa have unreasonable expectations? What do you think? Do you relate more to Asa or Jordan here?

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the book The 5 Love Languages, there are five different ways we can express love to a partner. But we don’t all communicate with the same languages equally. We typically develop our love language based on how our primary caregiver showed love to us as we grew up. From this we form a perception of what love looks like.

The 5 love languages are:

  1. Acts of service: Doing things for the other person.
  2. Physical touch: Showing affection.
  3. Quality time: Spending quality time with one another.
  4. Receiving gifts: Buying a thoughtful gift for the other person.
  5. Words of affirmation: Expressing terms of endearment.

If we look again at the story above, it seems Jordan’s way of welcoming Asa home was with acts of service, but Asa wanted affection and touch. For Jordan, doing something for a partner is a way of saying I love you. Chapman calls these kinds of actions, “bids of connection.” Asa perceives love through physical touch and affection, thus Jordan’s bids of connection went unnoticed. You could say Jordan and Asa are speaking different languages. What can they do about it?

Learning what love language your partner “speaks” can help to build connection because you’ll start to notice when your partner is showing their love. The next time Jordan does something for Asa, Asa could pay more attention to these gestures and recognize them as the way that Jordan shows love. Conversely, if you and your partner have different love languages it can be helpful to know in order to shift your behaviour to better fulfill your partners needs. For example, if we know our partner’s love language is physical touch, we can make an effort to hold our partner’s hand the next time we are walking down the street, or give them a hug when we arrive home.

As a helpful tool, you and your partner can take this love language quiz to find out each other’s love language.