Anna Pulley, @annapulley
RedEye's sex columnist
12:00 PM CST, December 28, 2011
I've been dating a guy for about a month now. We're not that compatible, and to be honest, I was mostly spending time with him to avoid the inevitable holiday loneliness. This sounds worse than it is. Who knows, maybe he's doing the same thing? So, my question is two-fold. One, since NYE is coming up, am I obligated to spend the evening with him? And two, how do you break up with someone you were only seasonally dating without making it obvious that's what you were doing?
Seasonal dating! This reminds me of working the holiday shift at Costco in high school. Meet my 20-percent-off boyfriend. He expires on Martin Luther King Day, but he came with this king-size box of Toblerone bars!
For the record, everything about your question depresses me. But in the spirit of charitable holiday good tidings, I'm going to remark no further on your layaway dating strategy and focus instead on the questions at large.
New Year's Eve is a throwaway holiday or tremendously important, depending on who you're talking to. It is a night both despised and delighted in, representing renewal and hope—as well as exorbitant cover charges and throwing up glitter. Like St. Patrick's Day and Cubs games, we celebrate NYE by drinking enough booze to sterilize Lake Michigan and responding to every question with "WOOOOO!" There's no ritual or tradition behind the holiday. It's a simple calendar switch, and yet, so much hype and pressure are placed on would-be revelers to have the best night EVER. If your NYE is anything less than life-changing (which it never is), then you're viewed as a personal failure somehow.
That said, the season technically ends January 7th, so you might as well make use of your disposable boyfriend for the midnight kiss come December 31. You're not obligated, of course, but The Rule—as revealed to me by Oprah and romantic comedies—urges you to comply with this preordained obligation. Isn't this why people get into relationships in the first place? So that they are not forced to look around awkwardly at 11:59, debating the pros and cons of swapping spit with the nearest sentient being? If you're wishy-washy about going out into the chaos and the funny hats and the slide whistles, then don't go out, especially if heavy drinking causes you to pick fights, cry in public, or sing Jimmy Buffett songs on the L (or anywhere in public, for that matter). I personally plan on staying home, drinking soon-to-be expired eggnog out of a measuring cup, and watching YouTube clips of Paula Deen babytalking a ham hock. Hello, 2012!
As to your second question, under no circumstances is it ever OK to tell someone you were merely dating them to temporarily stave off the crippling loneliness of holiday-inspired malaise. I don't care what excuse you need to make, whether it's "I want to find myself" or "I've met someone else" or "It's not you, it's Meatloaf." Come dumping time, you had better lie your ass off. You've got to be pretty good at it by now anyway.
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