If you’re falling in love beware: December can be a real romance killer. In fact, it can be so perilous that celibacy may seem preferable to the “I hate my life!” feeling that comes from getting dumped in the holiday crush. Research gathered by the British data-journalist and information designer David McCandless (based on Facebook data related to breakups) clearly shows that there are annual peaks for when relationships end: Two weeks before Christmas and Christmas itself are two of the seven annual peaks for romances to crumble. (Other romance bombs include Valentine’s Day, spring break, April Fool’s day, springtime Mondays and the peak of the summer season.)

Why would a happy holiday time be so deadly for love? McCandless’ partner, Lee Byron, offered this in an interview: “Perhaps some combination of seasonal affect disorder and a case of the Mondays has warped the idea of you meeting their family over the holidays into something horrid.” (The first Monday of December is the most dicey for a romance’s survival.)

tearing paper heartOne thing that can lead to these holiday breakups is the increased frequency of cheating. Relationship expert, Dr. Bonnie Weil, explains, “One of the main reasons people have affairs is to counteract feelings of stress, separation or loss and the holidays can bring all these feelings up at once.”

Whatever personal motivations put a strain on romances throughout the year, dividing time between families and social obligations during the holidays can test the affection of any couple trying to date during the December month of madness. If you’re lucky, the final four weeks of the year are full of fun, family, friends, gifts, vacations and merriment. Even during the best-case-scenario, crazy-than-ever ultimate month of the year, however, worst-case-scenario moments happen. When you’re dating, the way you balance the best and the worst of this time of year helps illuminate the qualities and characteristics of each partner, plus how you function as a team.

Keeping the romance alive while you juggle all of the conflicting demands on time and attention takes finesse. You might truly be meant for each other if you can manage the craziness with love and collaboration in these ways:

Support each other with respect

You may not always understand why your date needs, wants or chooses the things he or she does this time of year. Family demands, past experiences and general anxieties can lead to actions that may seem unnecessary or out of character. This is a time of year to support each other in ways that are positive, empowering and non-judgmental.

Communicate frequently

Mind-reading and assumptions will kill any romance at any time of year. To maintain your bond: share your thoughts, ask questions and explain decisions. Reach out to your partner to talk, discuss and make choices together.

couple in bedCreate connection

Couples’ time is equally important as family and friend time. Set aside an hour, an afternoon or an overnight where romance is the focus. Leave all electronics, plans and obligations behind and give each other the gift of escape.

Take a united approach

Even if there are events you attend separately approach the coordination of schedules, families and friends as a team. Spend some time mapping out how to navigate the holidays as a unit. The more intentional you become about this the easier it will be.

Give each other room

For all that you do together some holiday traditions, happenings and moodiness will require that you spend time apart. Be fair: Needing alone time (and giving it to each other) is a healthy way to reduce stress, refuel energy and maintain perspective.

In the world of dating every situation offers an opportunity to learn about your prospective mate, including the ability to value your romance in the midst of competing priorities. These end-of-the-year weeks are a terrific time to learn, grow and bond together. They can also be a time of creating cherished memories that further solidify your relationship.

So much year-round relationship success comes from being mindful of each other’s needs and supportive of each other’s desires. Increasing those actions during the holidays can help deepen love so that it grows roots into the new year and beyond. Another way to keep up the energy of love is to focus on having a good time together. For that, celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis offers some non-romantic but very sage advice: “The holidays stress people out so much. I suggest you keep it simple and try to have as much fun as you can.”

Click here to see Rose’s tips for healthy and happy relationships

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