Thanksgiving Break-Up: Why college student relationships tend to end over the holiday

In a phenomenon known as the "Turkey Drop," many college students break up with their high school sweethearts over the Thanksgiving holiday. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

Though I ended things with my high school boyfriend the summer before starting college, many of my peers decided to stay with their significant others into freshman year. Some survived the college shock to their relationship, but the majority of high school couples I knew are no longer together.

I recently discovered that a popular time to break up with your high school boo is around Thanksgiving — cleverly coined the “Turkey Drop.” The term describes college freshmen who break up with their significant other when they are home for the holidays, after experiencing a new and exciting environment.

Information is Beautiful used data from Facebook status updates to find that the weeks leading up to the holiday season are one of the two peak times to break up. The other peak time is around March (a spring break-up, one could say?). While Facebook statuses definitely shouldn’t be taken for complete truth, the Turkey Drop trend makes sense, for both college and non-college relationships.

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The weeks around Thanksgiving are a good time to end a relationship before the holidays make it serious. Especially if it’s a new-ish relationship, breaking up avoids dealing with the questions that come with holidays such as whether you should buy a gift or if you’ll invite your partner to family functions. The holidays are a meaningful time for most, and if the relationship isn’t serious (yet), it could put unwanted pressure on the couple.

College is a new and hectic experience. Freshmen might realize they want to focus on themselves, rather than worry about another person during a formative time in their lives. Spending time making friends on your dorm floor or around campus is crucial to creating bonds during your first year. While everyone’s college experience is unique, I can personally vouch for the importance of figuring out yourself first and worrying about how someone else could fit into your picture later.

Thanksgiving is a holiday when almost everyone will go home for break, making it an easy time to break up in person, rather than via call or text. Especially if the relationship is long-distance, as it might be the first time college freshmen are seeing their significant other in a few months.

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The Turkey Drop isn’t just a break-up time for college freshman; it can be a logical time to end a relationship in general. Right before the holidays is a good time to consider how serious you are with the other person. If you feel confident and happy in the relationship, the holidays should be an exciting time for you and your S.O. But, if you are dreading the introduction between family and partner during the season, take the time to evaluate what you want from the relationship.

During my research into the Turkey Drop phenomenon, I also discovered there’s a rom-com airing on November 23 titled Turkey Drop. This Freeform holiday movie stars Olivia Holt and tells the story of a girl who suspects her high school boyfriend is going to dump her. I watched the trailer and it looks very cheesy, like most holiday movies, but I am interested to see how Freeform portrays the phenomenon.

This isn’t meant to be pessimistic, but it’s interesting to consider different trends in college culture. Whether you decide to stay cuffed or go single this holiday season, it’s definitely an individual decision. I will always advocate for self-discovery first and a relationship second, especially while in college. But above all, have a happy Thanksgiving season with your family and friends, even if you drop the turkey.

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