Heartbreak

5 Ways To Survive The Holidays While In A Toxic Relationship

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sad woman sitting in front of a Christmas tree

Surviving the holidays while in a toxic relationship with a partner with controlling behaviors is hard.

With everything else that is going on during the holidays, your toxic relationship increases stress and keeps you from enjoying what's wonderful about the season.

Daily life is hard enough in a toxic and unhealthy relationship. How will you make it through the holidays this year without losing your mind?

RELATED: 15 Signs You're Stuck In A Soul-Sucking, Toxic Relationship

5 Ways of surviving the holidays while in a toxic relationship.

1. Avoid triggers.

Be honest with yourself. There must be triggers that can shift your relationship from good to bad, maybe even at a moment's notice. Those triggers are pretty consistent and you know exactly what they are. 

Take stock of those triggers and do whatever you can to avoid them during the holiday season and stop having to walk on eggshells. 

If you always fight about putting up the Christmas lights, perhaps just let your partner do it this year. If you always fight about your relationship with your parents, try to figure out a way to not have that be an issue.

If you always fight because the house is messy, perhaps make an extra effort to keep it tidy.

A toxic relationship is a minefield of triggers, things that usually make things turn sour. If you can avoid them, and maybe even talk to your partner about avoiding them too, you are way more likely to survive the holidays.

2. Don’t expect things to be different.

Every year, many people in toxic relationships go into the holidays, hoping that things are going to be different this year, that the disaster that was last Christmas won’t happen again, or that the toxicity that pervades your daily life will dissipate during the holiday season.

Unfortunately, unless you and your partner have been able to work on your toxic relationship over the course of the past year, things most likely won’t be different.

For my ex and me, whenever a birthday or holiday approached, there was an issue around spending time with family. How I had spent my birthdays and holidays was very different from how he had spent his.

I wanted to be at home with just our immediate family and he wanted to travel to see his extended family. Every holiday we fought about what we were going to do.

And, every holiday, once it was over, we just ignored what had happened and moved on. Until the next holiday and the issue — and the fighting — came up again.

This was a huge point of contention with my ex as Christmas approached. Pretty much the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas, we struggled with it, and it made the holidays significantly less enjoyable.

Because we hadn’t dealt with the issue earlier, every year the monster reared its ugly head again.

I believe that, if we had made an effort to deal with it over the years, instead of just ignoring it, then things might actually have had a chance to be different.

But we didn’t — and it just remained the same.

3. Control your own emotions and reactions.

You cannot change someone else nor can you change someone else’s emotional reactions. But you can change how you react.

The toxic encounters you have with your partner bring out a range of negative emotions. Anger, contempt, unhappiness, and frustration are a few that come to mind. And those emotions can get overwhelming and make the encounters even worse. 

During this holiday season, try to control those emotions. Don't let them make issues even bigger.

If your partner does something that normally triggers you, pause and take a deep breath before you react. Notice the emotions you're feeling.

And, if you can, take a few more deep breaths and try to calm down your nervous system so that you don’t react in a destructive way.

If you can control your emotions and your reactions to your partner’s behaviors, you might be able to take the toxicity down a notch.

RELATED: Beware! 6 Toxic Relationship Behaviors Most Couples Think Are Normal

4. Ask family and friends for help.

Your family and friends know that you're in toxic relationships and many of them do what they can to support you throughout the year. And yet, for some reason, during the holiday season, things can be different.

People get caught up in their own stuff and forget about yours.

If your friends or family are in any way contributors to the toxicity in the holiday, ask them for help.

My mother used to help me get through the holidays. How? By accepting the fact that I would not be able to spend a lot of time with her because I had to spend time with my ex’s family.

She made an extra special effort to get us all together another time of the year that wasn’t full of holiday craziness.

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Not only did this help her to not be disappointed at Christmas, but it also tempered the conflict between my ex and me. That made Christmas just a little bit more bearable.

Being in a toxic relationship is hard to manage on your own. If you can ask for the support of those who love you, it might help you with surviving the holidays.

5. Know that the holidays will end.

So many dread this holiday season because of everything that happens. All the present buying, the baking, and the pressure to see family puts a tremendous amount of pressure on any relationship.

The pressure on a toxic relationship is even more extreme.

What I always tell people to keep in mind is that, on January 2, the holiday season will be over. All the pressure that they're struggling with will be gone. And with the holidays being over, things can go back to normal.

If you're in a toxic relationship, normal isn’t necessarily a great thing but it's probably better than it is during the holiday season. When you get to January 2nd, you will have actually survived another holiday. 

Surviving the holidays while in a toxic relationship can be very difficult to do.

I know you don’t believe that you should have to make all the compromises to keep your relationship on even ground during the holidays but if you truly want to survive them, making compromises might be the key.

Again, you can not change someone else’s reactions and behaviors, but you can change your own. And that's the key to survival this season — your reactions.

All of this being said, January is the time of year where tons of people file for divorce. Many people think, after the dreadful holiday season, that they just can’t do this one more year.

As a result, they walk away. And this just might be an option for you. If you can keep your head down and get through the holiday season, you might be able to make changes on the other side.

In the meantime, knowing ways of surviving the holidays while in a toxic relationship is vital to keep yourself together and to enjoy the holidays as best you can.

RELATED: 10 Huge Things You Need To Know About Leaving A Toxic Relationship

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. She's helped countless singles find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. 

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This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.