Grieving privately is bad enough, but it's a killer when you're forced to sit through meals with people who thought they'd be helping you plan a wedding in the near future.
And then, there may be busybody in-laws or cousins at the table who interrogate you about what went wrong.
They want to know who initiated the breakup and why.
They offer advice on reconciling with the former flame (more on that later), whether you want it or not.
All too often, they're thrilled to have a new victim-- your ex -- to badmouth behind his or her back.
So, getting through the holidays after a breakup can be brutal, but it doesn't have to be.
FIRST, MAKE A DECISION.
IS THE RELATIONSHIP TRULY OVER? Before you leave home for the holiday gathering, decide whether the relationship is finished -- or whether you're going to try to get back together with your ex.
If you can't decide, write down the pros and cons of the relationship on a piece of paper.
It's always easier to figure things out when you can see them in black and white.
If you decide it's over, cut the paper in half, fold up the side with the cons on it, and slip it in your wallet.
Whenever you find yourself wavering about your decision, go to the bathroom, whip out the list, and read it.
It's tempting to jump back into a bad romance when you're surrounded by couples during the holidays, but keep in mind that many of those couples are not as happy as they pretend to be.
Tell yourself the truth: The relationship ended for a good reason, there are other, better fish in the sea, and you have exactly what it takes to attract one of them.
Furthermore, when you say 'no' to a bad relationship, you are saying 'yes' to a better one.
Remember what the famous writer Somerset Maugham said: "It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.
" When you get home, write another list.
This one will detail the qualities you want your "right person" to possess.
No doubt you will have witnessed some unloving behavior between some of the married guests earlier at dinner, and you probably want to avoid experiencing it yourself in a future relationship.
So, if your brother barked at his wife, "Time to change the baby's diaper," you might want to list something that would qualify as its opposite, like "gentle," "considerate," "loves to take care of our baby," and that sort of thing.
Also, take that cons list out of your pocket and write down their opposites, as well.
So, if your former love had a habit of lying, write down "truthful.
" If your former love tended to be negative, write "optimistic and laughs easily.
" Finally, write a third list, entitled, "What I Have to Offer.
" Jot down your every single thing you've ever accomplished.
Note every compliment you've gotten from as long ago as you can remember.
Until you have it staring at you in ink, it's easy to forget what you have to offer.
Let this list be your friend; whip it out whenever your self-esteem ebbs and you need a reminder.
(When you're aware of what you have to offer, people pick up on it and want it.
It's absolutely amazing.
) IF YOU WANT TO GET BACK WITH YOUR EX Repeat the steps above.
Determine whether getting back together with your former love will truly make you happy in the long run.
If you decide it will, send a short text or email saying "Happy (Insert Holiday)" and see what kind of response you get.
That's all you need to say.
Please don't say anything else.
If you get a response, proceed cautiously, especially if your former love initiated the breakup.
This is not the time to pick up the phone or text back how much you want to get back together.
You've thrown the ball on the court; let your former love pick it up.
Here's the thing you must know: You cannot make a person come back to you by telling them how much you miss them, how they've ruined your holidays, or how you will change your personality to suit their purposes.
You can make yourself much more appealing if you give your ex time to think things through.
He or she cannot wonder about you if you're making continual contact.
If you find yourself tempted to call (or, worse, to call and hang up, or drive by your ex's house, or scheme to "bump into" him or her somewhere), reclaim your dignity by reading your "What I Have to Offer" list, which you should feel free to re-title, "What (Ex's Name Here) Stands to Lose.
" Whatever you do, don't torment yourself.
Stick with the program outlined above.
If you keep your head, your ex may very well come back to you.
If your ex doesn't come back to you, you'll have kept your dignity and won the freedom to move on.
You'll also have made great progress in healing and rebuilding your self-esteem.
It'll be only a matter of time before you attract someone who actually makes you happy.