1. In essence, it’s one day out of 365 or a few weeks out of the year when you add in the build up and festivities. I’m not saying it’s not a special time but it is a highly commercial time that puts a lot of pressure on people. Keep things in perspective.

2. Whoever you’re with or not with, this time of year often gives you some quality time. Spend it with someone you love, even if that someone is you. We use the Christmas to catch up with each other and our friends both together and separately, catch up on sleep (our daughters are early risers), to see friends and family, eat very well, and do stuff.

3. When I was single I made lots of plans, relationship or not, and even when I was in a relationship, I didn’t base the entirety of my plans on them. This relieved a lot of pressure. You’re not clones of each other or Siamese twins. You’re individual entities so you don’t have to spend every waking moment with them. Actually, this is the same no matter what time of year it is!

4. Single? Missing an ex? Broken-hearted? Make plans. Seriously. Being single isn’t a death sentence or the horrendous time you pass between relationships and the fact of the matter is that if you end up feeling that your Christmas was ruined, it won’t be your ex’s fault, or whoever or whatever it is that you’re blaming – it will be yours.

5. If it’s your first Christmas, try not to over-‘prescribe’ it and let things be. In fact whichever Christmas it is, don’t over-prescribe. You may end up creating great expectations or exerting too much pressure. Sometimes we create an image of how we think things should be and become so immersed in it, we forget to enjoy and appreciate what’s in front of us.

6. Set your own values about Christmas. It doesn’t matter what Tom, Dick, Harry and Samantha are doing. Judge and decide your own way of celebrating the season because if you try to keep up with others, you will never be happy.

7. Whatever your relationship status, treat yourself to something nice. I always do!

8. I hate to say it but be prepared for exes to creep out of the woodwork with dumb texts, even sillier emails, calls to test the water to see if you’re interested, and maybe even some protestations of how much they have changed. Tis the season for nostalgia. When people get lonely, especially unavailables and assclowns, and remember the last time someone idolised them, ignored their blatant red flag behaviour, and gave them a shag, an ego stroke and a shoulder to lean on, they hastily head for the path of least resistance. Don’t let that be you.

9. Things getting tense about which family you’ll spend Christmas with? Find a compromise you both can live with. It’s as simple as this year it’s X and next year it’s Y.

10. The other way to resolve the family at Christmas issue is to have your own Christmas together and see your respective families on the days afterwards. You have to create your own traditions and experiences and your families also need to respect your wishes. Neither of you are children anymore. Seeing them the following day etc., doesn’t mean you love them any less.

11. Don’t get back with an ex because you hate the idea of not being with someone for Christmas. Unless the reasons why you broke up no longer exist (and not just because you blotted them out and came up with your own fantasy), those reasons will not change because it’s tinsel time. This is not a Christmas romcom movie!

12. Please state the nature of your call. OK, you don’t have to say it like that, but if your ex calls and you answer, you need to get a definitive answer to the question of ‘Why are you calling me?’ If they say that they miss you, make sure you ask exactly what this means too. Missing you and I want to get back together are two entirely different things.

13. Do not let your vagina or penis make your decisions for you this Christmas, or anytime for that matter. I know you can get horny and think that your ex or that person from your office or whoever is just the thing to give you a boost, but just be careful of acting off your libido and being left with a long lasting hangover.

14. No drunk dialling, dropped calls, emails to ‘see how they are’, calls to see how they’re doing, or sending an ‘innocent’ Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas/Happy New Year text. All of these actions are attention seeking and ways of re-opening contact.

15. If you’re a rubbernecker and they’re on Facebook and they’ve moved on to someone else, don’t spend your time stalking the site for pictures to show up of them enjoying themselves. Talk about punishing yourself! Go out and enjoy yourself and create your own new memories and pictures.

16. If you’re with someone who has previously disappointed you by not buying you a gift and you’re now working yourself up into a lather wondering if they’re going to do it again, I would expect that they are going to unless something very drastic has happened since the last time. A lot of people take this attitude of ‘Well I shouldn’t have to say why’ or ‘I shouldn’t have to ask’ but setting yourself up for disappointment and thinking that they don’t care isn’t a pleasant alternative. It’s time for you to have a calm, rational discussion so you can understand why they do it and they can understand your hurt and disappointment.

17. Be safe with contraception if you don’t want to welcome a baby next September.

18. Are you involved with someone who is attached? Don’t spend all of the holidays checking your phone for text messages/emails/phone calls or spending it an anticipation of a snatched moment. Don’t revolve your everything around them – they’re not revolving it around you. Basically make other plans.

19. Please, I beg you, don’t spend the entire time waiting for an ex to call. Doing this is like continuing the relationship albeit in your head on some alternate universe. It doesn’t make sense for you to play the waiting game while they go on their merry way enjoying their life.

20. Don’t use the season as an opportunity to try to pressure an engagement, wedding or baby out of someone. Seriously, it’s just Christmas. Stop getting so carried away!

21. If you’re getting really irritated because it feels like you’re doing everything to prepare for the festivities, either delegate or roll back your efforts. It’s no fun if it doesn’t feel fun and you end up being resentful too.

22. It’s not all about the gift. Staying with someone just to see what you get is not a reason to hang on!

23. Don’t go overboard and make demands about what you should get and about what may or may not happen if people fail to get what you want. It’s really unpleasant to be around people that behave in this way and you suck the fun out of people buying you gifts.

24. Remember you may have different values and beliefs about Christmas which means that you need to find a solution that you can both live with. If one of you isn’t big on Christmas, there shouldn’t be an expectation that the other should be like you and vice versa if one of you is crazy about the season. My stepfather hates Christmas and can be really bah humbug about the whole thing but he made a huge effort each year. Now that we’re all grown up (OK and he’s not with my mum anymore), he doesn’t bother with any fanfare although he gets gifts for my daughters. The point? Sometimes it’s good not to be selfish/a party pooper.

25. If you’re thinking about breaking up, it’s best to stop thinking about it and either break up or get on with enjoying your Christmas. If you’re not sure that you want to break up and suspect that you may knee-jerk back to the relationship after Christmas, do the person you’re with a favour and keep it zipped so that your flip-flapping doesn’t put them through hell.

26. Do NOT leave it until the last minute to either break up or change shared plans. It’s a really shitty thing to do and you will blindside them and have them flailing around having to make alternative arrangements.

27. Know your relationship is on the rocks but insisting on keeping it together for Christmas? Really it’s the difference between a crap Christmas or a crap New Year – you’re putting off the inevitable.

28. If you have kids, it’s not nice to break up at Christmas as they will always associate it with the demise of your relationship. Trust me, I know so many people whose parents did just that and Christmas was never the same again.

29. If you do break up with someone, don’t continue to screw up their Christmas by screwing with their mind. Don’t call/email/text etc them so you can feel better. Don’t hit them up for sex. It’s not a crime for breaking up and/or not wanting to pretend but it’s an assclown thing to do to put your ego first. Don’t just think about your feelings – consider theirs.

30. If you’re dating and you haven’t made concrete plans by now, I would have a plan B. Especially when it’s early days with dating, it’s a lot of pressure on a relationship to have expectations for grand gifts or spending the entire holidays together. Let it be. Which brings me neatly to…

31. Don’t use Christmas to rush your relationship further along than it actually is. Seriously. If you use the season to have expectations or even make demands that don’t have the relationship experience and the emotions that reflect them, you will do medium to long-term damage to your relationship and create questions and panic in the other person.

32. Feeling anxious about Christmas with a partner as there’s a question mark over it? Six magic words: What are your plans for Christmas? The only reason we don’t ask questions is because we’re afraid of what we may hear or confirming what we know to be true. The fact is, you need to know.

33. Love is not being with someone who knows exactly what you want. You’re not the same person. If this is your first Christmas or there are some possible opportunities for confusion over the level of gift buying that is taking place, talk. You don’t need to suck the fun out of things but I know a lot of people, especially in the current economic climate that set an upper limit for gifts. I know other couples who save their energy for shopping in the new years sales.

34. Don’t use the season as an opportunity to try to pressure an engagement, wedding or baby out of someone. The festivities do end and you may be left with the sour taste of resentment to put up with next year.

35. Don’t reject the offer of plans with friends, family, and acquaintances because you don’t want to appear ‘lonely’ or ‘desperate’. There is such a thing as having too much pride and/or punishing yourself. It’s one thing if you are genuinely happy in your own company and want to be on your own but if you do want company, don’t reject it over how you might appear.

36. Tempted to get in contact with an ex? Hold that thought for at least 24 hours. List the reasons why you’re getting in touch and ensure that they are not short-term reasons but medium to long-term reasons that are evidence based. i.e Don’t get in touch because you hope they’ve changed or that they will if you take them back.

37. Seriously, don’t buy a gift for your ex or send them a card. You’ll just look weird.

38. If you fall off the wagon, dust yourself off and get back on it. Don’t wallow. You sucked, you saw, learn your lesson and move on.

39. Worried about underspending on a first Christmas? Have a spare present hidden away that you can say ‘surprise!’. You can always return it if you don’t need to use it. Or surprise them anyway!

40. It’s not the price of the gift that counts, it’s the thought. Saying that though, if there is no ‘thought’ given to the gift, that says a lot too.

41. This time of year can be a test of your boundaries, particularly with family/friends who may take liberties and make demands. It’s up to you to work out what you want to say yes and no to, but recognise that if you don’t assert your boundaries and where appropriate, look for solutions for compromise, you’re going to feel very frustrated, resentful, and even angry. You cannot please everyone.

42. If you’re No Contact, keep busy and have options for what you can do when you feel bored so that you don’t look to your ex as a solution for the boredom. Have friends and family on call so you don’t look to your ex as a solution for loneliness. Have a list of the reasons why you’re NC as a solution for feeling nostalgic.

43. This time of year is really tough when you miss someone or you feel awful because it feels like they don’t miss you. We want people to care, to regret, to miss us. It’s understandable but be careful of being hijacked by these feelings and being compelled to chase them for a sign of their affection so that you can feel less rejected. It doesn’t mean someone doesn’t miss you if they don’t get in touch – they may know that the ship has sailed or are respecting your wishes because they know they can’t give you what you want. And sadly, they may miss you but it may not be for reasons you would like… Renew your focus on your own life.

44. If you’re No Contact/broken-hearted/not spending Christmas with someone, put yourself on a diet. This means setting yourself the task of focusing your thoughts and conversation on everything but them from the 24th-26th. Or choose a longer or shorter period but do at least a day.

45. Use the festive season to give yourself the gift of forgiveness and a clean slate. There is no benefit to you to sit there beating yourself up about your relationship choices. You’re human, you screw up, and either trust too much or trust in the wrong things instead of the right things. Spending the holidays blaming and shaming is of no benefit to you. You can’t change what’s happened but you can ensure that you counteract what has happened by treating yourself better and learning more about you and your choices so that you can avoid going down the same path. Knowledge is power. Forgiveness is power and I’ll put it this way: if you can forgive a romantic partner so easily, you should certainly be able to cut yourself some slack!

Your thoughts? How are you handling things?

Image credit: Juliaf SXC

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in my bookshop.

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