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The dreaded ‘turkey drop’: Here’s why couples break up around Thanksgiving

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While most people’s Thanksgiving fears revolve around being bombarded with questions about their future or gaining so much weight they can’t fit into their New Year’s Eve dress, those in relationships have something else to worry about: the dreaded “turkey drop.”

A phenomenon most commonly seen among — but not limited to — college freshmen, turkey dropping refers to people dumping their (typically long-distance) significant other either right before or around Thanksgiving time.

“Holidays are landmarks on which to build, maintain or sever relationships,” said James Wadley, chair of Counseling Services at Lincoln University.

While turkey dropping may seem harsh, there are a few reasons why it actually makes a lot of sense:

Holidays bring additional stress from family

“Family is a big influence” on your decision to keep a partner around for the holiday season or not, said Michelle Jacoby, owner of DC Matchmaking and Coaching. “It’s about whether or not the person you’re dating is family worthy.”

If you’re not sure about your relationship, you don’t want to excite your family by bringing your significant other along to holiday events, or having them bring you.

Chloe Diorio, a 25-year-old marketing coordinator from Boston, cited pressure from her ex-boyfriend’s family to stay together as one factor that made her want to end things with him before the holiday season fully commenced, since she was having doubts about the relationship.

The fall is when new students realize they want out 

Turkey dropping occurs quite frequently among first-year college or graduate school students who — while in a new environment and meeting new people — realize they may no longer value their significant other like they used to.

“What made you happy in high school sometimes doesn’t compare to the new adventure ahead,” said Jess McCann, author of “You Lost Him at Hello: From Dating to ‘I Do’ — Secrets From One of America’s Top Dating Coaches.”

By Thanksgiving break of her freshman year, Diorio was ready to cut off her long-distance relationship. “By that point I realized being single as a freshman in college is very important, and I wasn’t into sacrificing my weekends,” she said.

It’s a chance to end things in person

Diorio felt waiting until Thanksgiving break was a humane way to end things, since it was one of the first times the long-distance couple could discuss it in person.

Robbie Schenker, a 25-year-old Baltimore student in his third year of law school, echoed the same sentiment.

“We were both home and I wanted to do it face to face as opposed to a phone call or text,” he said of turkey dropping his then long-distance girlfriend.

It’s your last chance before March

Breaking up with someone right before Christmas or Hanukkah is cruel. Before New Year’s isn’t any better because then you leave them dateless.

And forget ending things right before Valentine’s Day, unless you want to be considered a complete jerk, McCann said. “You have to get out at Thanksgiving.”

Plus, you save them from buying you a gift and vice versa.

“You don’t want to get someone something that they’ll like if you’re only going to break up with them and then they’ll end up tossing the gift,” Schenker said.

It’s simply a good excuse to address your unhappiness

If your significant other is thinking of ending things, issues probably emerged well before Thanksgiving, according to Wadley.

“I kind of knew it was going to happen, but I was so in ‘love’ that I didn’t want to believe it,” said Elizabeth Broten, a 29-year-old paralegal in Cooperstown, N.Y., who was turkey-dropped her freshman year of college.

And if you’re worried about it happening to you, try honest communication. “Ask them, ‘How do you feel about being in a relationship during the holidays?’ ” Wadley said.

If you’re dating the right person, they should be excited by the prospect of going through the holiday season with you, Jacoby said. “If your SO [significant other] is squeamish, that’s not a good sign. Move on.”

Read more:

It’s tempting to dump your grievances during a breakup. Don’t do it.

5 reasons December is a horrible time to date

How to survive the holidays while single or divorced