1. Do you think it’s common for people to split up around September time and why might that be?

September is now well-established as a seasonal spike for breakups, second-only to January when we have ‘National Divorce Day’. The correlation between the two is that they follow a long holiday period, when couples spend more time together without the distraction of daily routine, work and school runs. This provides time for reflection and finances – particularly this year – are being stretched to the limit. 

For healthy relationships this can be a really positive, bonding time. But for those with cracks in the foundations of the relationship, this ‘quality time’ can be a magnifier of disputes and push them to breaking point. 

As I often see with clients, a key contributing factor is that they sweep issues under the carpet for months, or even years. The tension builds and, if these issues aren’t addressed, they fester so that even the smallest thing can lead to irreparable damage and ultimately relationship breakdown.

For some couples they have very different expectations of what the time off work will mean. A recent client told me she and her husband both had busy jobs and were looking forward to taking time off to go on an overseas trip with their three children. 

Her husband, however, viewed his time off as time for him to relax and have time out for himself. Whilst he was happy to play with the kids in the pool for an hour or so, the rest of the childcare was left to her which caused huge arguments. She wanted to do things together as a family and found it hard to cope when she needed a rest too. 

  1. Have you noticed a trend of people splitting up with their partners at the same time as their other friends in relationships and if so, where do you think that comes from?

There is a phenomenon called ‘divorce contagion’ which scientists have been researching for years. It suggests that divorce or breakups can spread for couple to couple and neighbourhood to neighbourhood, migrating through social networks. In fact, one study by a team of scientists at Brown, Harvard, and the University of California found that couples were 75% more likely to divorce if a close friend did. It’s called ‘divorce clustering’. 

The fact is that once one couple within a friendship or community network have decided to break up it has a way of holding up a mirror to issues in your own relationship. We see people having the courage to face divorce or breakup and, in some cases, this shows us that there is life outside of the partnership. It opens the door to it being acceptable to leave and not so much of a taboo. I had a client recently whose husband’s best friend had divorced his wife and kept inviting him on evenings out as his wing man. Seeing life as a single man influenced her husband and convinced him that the problems they had were not worth working through, so he too filed for divorce. 

When you are in a friendship group it can be a little bubble of dinner parties and other social events as couples. When one partnership breaks up it disturbs that equilibrium and can create doubts and uncertainties that were not there before. This has an inevitable ripple effect in much the same way. 

  1. Do you notice any trends among millennial breakups, specifically as they leave their 20s and enter into their 30s?

Millennials have broken the mould on many things that were once considered traditional, from marrying to not moving in with partners until you’ve tied the knot. Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing demographic in the UK according to ONS, outpacing married couples. 

The fact is that there is now much less pressure to get married and it’s much more socially acceptable to have children outside of marriage too. It’s also a question of convenience and practicality given the ever-rising costs associated with renting or buying a property. Property ownership has become more important than tying a knot in today’s society. 

But, for many couples, thy are so eager to chase the dream of living together and get on the property ladder, that they jump in without doing the work to ensure this is the partner they want to be with long term. So it’s no surprise that this leads to breakup further down the line. Splitting up after buying a house together has even been coined the ‘millennial divorce’. 

  1. What advice would you give to a millennial coming out of a long term relationship now?

Heartbreak is all consuming and has a ripple effect across your whole life. A breakup is known as the second most traumatic life experience after the death of a loved one and it triggers similar symptoms to grief. It can feel like the end of the world and that nothing can make it better.

The good news is there are lots of things you can do to speed up your recovery and dial down those negative emotions:

  1. Know that you deserve to be with someone who truly loves you and treats you well. You have overcome tough times before and you will get through this and be happy again
  2. Self care is not selfish – it is really important right now to look after yourself. Take walks, do things you enjoy and be kind to yourself.
  3. Get outside and take some form of exercise – even if it’s just a walk around the block. It will boost your mood and dial down those negative emotions. 
  4. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself
  5. Avoid telling your breakup story and swap it for talking about your breakup bucket list – everything you can and will do now you are single
  6. Take time to reflect on what you have learnt you need from a partner – doing this helps you to improve your chances of finding a good match in the future and stop repeating old patterns
  7. Spend time looking at what you would like more of in your life and who you would like to become. This is your golden opportunity to redesign your future just the way you want it. If you do the work now you can become happier and more confident than you ever were. It is possible!
  8. Ask for help as there is lots of breakup support available – online support groups, 1-1 coaching, retreats

Listen to my podcast Heartbreak to Happiness