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A man decides to save his money and break up with his partner instead of buying them a Christmas presentBBC Three / iStock

'Scrooging' is the new dating trend that will ruin your Christmas

Hannah Price

Verb: Scrooge (as in, ‘to Scrooge’):

  1. The act of breaking up with your partner to avoid spending money on their Christmas presents.

“My a-hole boyfriend/girlfriend Scrooged me because he/she has no heart.”

So here we are, the dystopian, Black Mirror version of a Christmas love story, where instead of being showered with gifts and TLC you're deserted because your partner is too tight to buy you a present. Sob.

Following on from preating and orbiting, Scrooging is a (newly coined) way to be awful to your significant other. One dating site claims that almost one in 10 Brits have admitted to breaking up with someone to avoid getting them a Christmas present (aka Scrooging). Although, a dating website might have some vested interest in us all being single...

According to statisticians David McCandless and Lee Byron, who analysed 10,000 Facebook statuses, more people break up on 11 December than on any other day of the year. Although, disclaimer: The social media masterminds were keen to point out to ABC that this is not a 'proper' study, but more of a "curious exploration" of a pattern that cropped up when they were analysing Facebook posts (we’ve all been there). Their data is also 10 years old - do people even update their Facebook relationship statuses anymore? 

Either way, it would seem that people are being dumped in the run-up to Christmas. It’s no secret that the festive season is not cheap. Before you’ve even got round to the cost of the big day itself (presents, food, fancy crackers), there are the Christmas parties, drinks with friends, and the office Secret Santa (we could go on and on).

In fact, the Bank of England estimates that a typical household spends over £500 extra in December. So it's possible people might genuinely not be able to afford gift-giving and may be too embarrassed to admit it.

The results from the dating site also revealed that 18-34 year-olds were the main culprits, with men more likely to dump their partner than women (11% vs 7%).

If you go by social media reactions, half of us want to hunt these people down, and the other half wish that we'd Scrooged one of our crappy exes.

But are young people really pie-ing their partners just because of presents?

Relationship expert and former divorce lawyer Sheela Mackintosh-Stewart told BBC Three that it could come down to the fact that it's now easier than ever to dump an ex. “People generally avoid in-person confrontation if they can help it. Technology makes it easy for people to send not only angry, hurtful messages to their partners, but also provides a convenient but cowardly means to dump them.”

She continues: “Matters are worsened due to the added temptations and distractions available to them from social media, which puts even greater pressure on relationships, requiring couples to work doubly hard to hold them together."

Obviously, it’s a bit more complex than people just being tight. Sheela explains: “Christmas ‘Scrooging’ has become a convenient excuse to dump a partner when they don’t want to deal with the underlying issues and conflicts that are the real issues. Around this time of the year people can become tired and exhausted, with the longer nights and shorter days making people spend more time together.”

AKA we’re all irritable by Boxing Day, which Sheela says “[encourages] thoughts of breaking up and going into the new year with a new start".

In short - the relationship was probably doomed anyway. But at least we still have mulled wine.

If you’re ‘lucky’, you might get dumped, but not Scrooged, like Clarissa, a 29-year-old wellbeing expert. When her partner ditched her before Christmas, they had both already got the gifts. 

As she told BBC Three: “Oddly, he gave me the gifts a week before we broke up - and a couple of weeks before Christmas - I assume out of guilt. I actually gave them back to him as I didn’t want any memories. I just thought, 'I'd rather start afresh and delete him from my life.'"

Clarissa got a refund on the gifts she'd bought her ex, which means that she had “plenty of cash for a night out with the girls”.

But before you start feeling too down on the idea of romance at Christmas, there are signs we might not be so heartless after all - the Facebook data also showed that the lowest number of breakups happened on Christmas Day itself. Phew. 

So, next time you’re ripping into scratchy glitter-coated wrapping paper, putting on your, 'Wow I love it’ face in front of grinning relatives (that think you’re 10 years younger than you actually are), remember the real message of Christmas – at least you didn’t get dumped. 

P.S. We know it’s not strictly related, but talking of dumping…

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