Navigating relationships, whether they be new, long term or just being freshly single can be difficult anytime of the year, but emotions and tensions seem to be heightened even more when the festive season rolls around.
Studies have shown that during the colder weather months, relationships are under significantly more strain than at any other time of the year. A quick google search on the topic will reveal hundreds of articles about the terrifying limbo of the Christmas season as if it provokes some mystical force out to remind you of your lack of man/lady/significant other. A lot of the time, all of this strain is amplified by the pressures of the festive season – What presents should I buy? How much should I spend? Do we spend Christmas Day together or apart? Their family or mine? Are we even at that stage yet? How does this Christmas thing go again?
You’ve been dating, you’re 3 months in and things are going great, but gift giving season is around the corner and you’re stuck with a dilemma – or three. What do I get them? More importantly, I’m a broke college student, how much should I spend? What if their present is too much and mine isn’t enough?
It’s enough to make your head spin out of control! It’s a new relationship and you don’t want to break your already dwindling bank balance, but you also want to keep your new beau happy. Set a spend limit between yourselves! Okay, budgeting doesn’t sound very romantic, but it does offer a chance to get creative, to make the most with what you have to spend. A relationship, the strength or closeness of it, especially a new one, should not be measured by the number of expensive gifts exchanged within it. It’s a cliché but a true one: it’s the thought that counts.
You’ve been summoned home to help put up the decorations, your friends want to go for drinks, your significant other has a family dinner they want you to be at, and you’ve left buying presents to the last minute. It can often feel like the closer Christmas gets the more you’re burning the candle at both ends, and that’s when things can really take a toll on your relationships. You may be left feeling so overwhelmed that sometimes you take things out on the people you care about most without meaning to. You want to keep everyone happy, but you can’t split yourself in two.
Set some time aside for everyone. It doesn’t have to be on the big day! There’s no reason you and your partner can’t have an early Christmas together, or meet the bestie for a Stephen’s Day drink.
With Christmas, comes Christmas exams. The stress and anxiety in the lead up to exams is palpable; it’s very tempting to spend hours on end cramming in the library. In turn, it’s also very easy to get stressed, to get snappy and to let social and relationship responsibilities slide which can take its toll on your relationship. Of course you’re both incredibly busy and stressed, but make some time that doesn’t involve college work or complaining to each other about deadlines – designate a date night to enjoy some quality time, even if it’s just going to a gig or planning a very cozy night in to relieve some of that stress together (orgasms can really work wonders for relieving stress).
So far, we’ve looked at navigating the festive season as part of a relationship, but Christmas can be a challenging time without a second half too, especially if you’ve become recently single. Sometimes it can feel like you’re being constantly bombarded by images of happy couples and families and this can make you feel lonely and generally just put a downer on what’s supposed to be a happy occasion.
Take some time to treat yourself. That doesn’t mean spending lots of money buying yourself gifts; do the little things, like take your dog for a walk, enjoy getting crafty and creative with presents, read a book you’ve been meaning to read for ages but haven’t! If you are in the position to spare some cash maybe there’s been a shirt or an EP you’ve been eyeing up for a while, and it wouldn’t be a Sexpress article if we didn’t suggest investing in a new toy or lube! Take time to take care of you. Find comfort in friends and family, organise a get together, help out with Christmas dinner, find a Christmas special to look forward to, even volunteer with a charity or at a fundraising event if you can! It’s important to remember that how you’re feeling has got less to do with being helplessly lonely and more to do with the societal pressure placed upon us during this time of year.
The festive and new year period can come with its own set of challenges and pressures. Celebrate as much (or as little) as you want, treat it as any other day of the week or go all out! What’s most important is that you do what makes you happiest, whether that’s being with a partner or loved one or giving back to the community and looking out for others who might be finding things rough at this time of the year.