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4 Things You Can Do Now to Avoid the Turkey Dump


It may seem like classes just started for the year, but Thanksgiving will be here before we know it! While a relaxing break at home is great for most of us, freshman collegiettes in long-distance relationships often get nervous about a phenomenon known as the turkey dump, a term used to describe break-ups that take place during Thanksgiving break when both of you are back home (often for the first time since class started). Breaking up doesn’t have to be served up along with your turkey dinner, though! Check out these four things you can do right now to avoid an unhappy holiday.

1. Set and Follow Rules for Your Relationship

Chances are, you probably set some sort of goals or came to an agreement about what you wanted your relationship to look like before you left for college. Before you both left to go your separate ways, the two of you (hopefully) should have talked about things like how much you expected to talk to or visit each other, what’s okay in terms of seeing other people and expectations with one another about the direction in which you want your relationship to continue.

Now that the year has gotten underway and the chaos of the first couple of weeks of classes has settled, take a few moments and do a mental check-in. Are you sticking to the terms of whatever it is you and your significant other agreed upon? Are certain things unclear or becoming harder to interpret? Make sure you’re flexible and forgiving with yourself as well. New changes and new scenarios don’t have to signal the automatic end to a relationship, but they can be the material that makes it even stronger!

If you feel it’s needed, have a conversation with your boyfriend about what’s working and what’s not with the expectations both of you have regarding your relationship. It’s a much smarter idea to address problems you’re encountering now than to let resentments build up until they become too much to handle—one scenario that often leads to Thanksgiving break-ups.

You also might want to discuss what you expect to happen when both of you are back during Thanksgiving break and think about revisiting whatever agreements you guys reached before leaving. “Seeing each other again is all about expectations. Do you expect it will be like before? Do you expect he will be/do/say something?” says Ariane de Bonvoisin, an author, speaker, entrepreneur and founder of The First 30 Days, a website for helping people make changes in their lives. “[Be] really clear on what you hope/want/expect, write it down even, and then let it go. Your expectations are directly in line with how much you will suffer!”

2.  Take Advantage of Technology

Sharing both the good and the bad parts of your college experience is also super important if you’re hoping to avoid the dreaded turkey dump. “Accept that you're not going to be together every day––but that doesn't mean you're not going to speak every day. Skype is amazing for LDR's, so learn to love it!” advises Lauren Hudson, a fourth-year student at the University of Exeter.

De Bonvoisin agrees. “You must feel safe about communicating what's really going on,” she says. Take advantage of Skype, email, texting and calling while still leaving enough time to spend time with the new friends you’ve made.

“I think the most important thing is to utilize all the amazing technology that's out there,” says Sarah*, a senior at Boston University. “From Skype dates to sending a quick text between classes, I found that it was the little day-to-day things that made a difficult situation easier.” Talking regularly, whether it’s over the phone, computer or via text can help the two of you stay close and make the distance a little more bearable.

3. Balance Your New Life at College with Your Old Life Back Home

If one or both of you is holding the other back from enjoying new experiences and new people you’re meeting at school, a breakup may quickly become inevitable. “The first time you're away from him is really hard, especially if you're used to seeing him almost every day,” says Lauren. “Be sure to keep yourself busy and throw yourself into college activities as this makes it so much easier. When you're busy you have less time to miss him.”

To avoid a messy break-up come Thanksgiving, it’s crucial to realize that you’ll both grow and learn and try new things while you’re apart, and that it’s okay to be apart. “Communication is key, but don't overdo it.  I know girls who were constantly texting and talking to their boyfriend, even Skyping until they fell asleep, and then the other person would just watch them sleep. It's too much,” says Katie*, a junior at Cornell. “You have to acknowledge that your boyfriend's not there, and that you need to do things in college without him.  Otherwise, this expectation of sharing everything will put an unhealthy strain on the relationship.”

You don’t have to keep your new experiences totally to yourself, either. Plan on sharing new things you’re experiencing with your boyfriend when the two of you are back together over the break to help bridge any awkwardness and show each other different parts of your new collegiate lives. “Withholding is what starts killing the relationship; it’s not the distance. Give each other the space to share it all,” says de Bonvoisin. “That is what builds and keeps intimacy. It’s not even what you say that will have someone dump you; it’s what you aren’t saying.”

Just joined a climbing club on campus? Start making plans now to show off your new skills to him at a gym near your house. Learning a new language? Teach him a few words during your next phone conversation. Sharing your new experiences or making plans to share them as early as possible can also be huge in avoiding a breakup. This way, instead of feeling like you’re growing impossibly far apart from one another, the focus instead is on ways to share new experiences and turn them into something the both of you can enjoy as a couple as well as on your own!

4. Don’t Wait Until Thanksgiving to Have a Heart-to-Heart

Relationships are all about communication. If you’re unhappy with how something is going or where your relationship currently stands, don’t wait until Thanksgiving to let your significant other know how you’re feeling; ask for what you want and need. “During a long-distance relationship, it’s very hard to guess what the other person requires,” de Bonvoisin says. "[Be] super clear on expressing things.”

Keeping communication clear, open and honest is MAJOR in avoiding a turkey dump. Bringing up issues as they arise instead of holding on to upset emotions is a great way to avoid tons of drama and tears come Thanksgiving.

Keep in mind that everyone has days when things aren’t going so stellar. One rough conversation, one rumor your best friend from high school shared with you about your boyfriend or one other difficult obstacle won’t derail a solid relationship if you’re open with each other about how you’re feeling!


While the turkey dump is an unfortunate reality many collegiettes will face this Thanksgiving, it doesn’t have to happen to you and your boyfriend. Start talking and communicating now so you don’t have to end things come November.

*Names have been changed.

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