The holiday season brings lots of things we don’t really want or need. Stress, arguments, un-please-able people, and exhaustion. There is also something surprising and unexpected that comes with this season of peace on earth, good will to all—therapists call it the ‘holiday affair.’

Unfortunately, formal holidays seem to be the time of the year when being unfaithful occurs more often. It is a vulnerable time for many couples especially if the holidays are less than warm and welcoming or their partnership is on rocky ground.  They may see all the fun they’re supposed to have at this time of year not happening in their own lives. The holidays can remind some of what’s missing in their lives and in their relationships. They want part of the holiday cheer too and are open to any possibilities.

Men and women are creatures of emotion. If the year has been good for you, you’re likely to feel good about the holidays. However if the year has been difficult, challenging, and unsatisfying, especially in terms of career or finances, the holiday season seems to only make it worse. All around you see happy people, glitzy commercials, and smiling faces. You feel left out and miserably unhappy. Why shouldn’t you have something too? Being with an attractive co-worker or friend starts to feel the right thing to do.

But a cheat is a quick fix for underlying problems. The real problems of financial strain, a possible job loss, or a feeling of total insecurity and not being in charge of your life can make you vulnerable. A 2019 study from Bowdoin University on holiday depression says that 56% of men and 42% of women will cheat on their partners during the holiday season. The study also goes on to say that once the holidays end so do the affairs.  Most partners never even know their significant other has strayed.

Like most ongoing longer term infidelities, the holiday affair is not simply about sex. You feel appreciated, you feel loved even if those feelings are fleeting. The attraction isn’t purely physical or emotional.  It is more an issue of self-esteem and self-worth. The added air of the holiday brings a temporary feeling that you’re part of the festivities and part of life. You’re someone.

Unlike holiday movies and TV shows, real life and relationships can suffer during this time of spending and shopping frenzies. The idea that you’re supposed to have fun and be surrounded by loving, joyful family, friends, and expensive gifts is a media dictated myth. But loneliness and sadness over what you are not having can lead some to make the decision to cheat.

It seems that the holiday affair is becoming an unwelcome tradition.  

© copyright 2019 all rights reserved Kristen Houghton 


  • Kristen Houghton

    Kristen Houghton

    Thrive Global

    Kristen Houghton is the award-winning author of the popular series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation.  She is also the author of nine novels, two non-fiction books, a collection of short stories, a book of essays, and a children’s novella. Her horror novel, Welcome to Hell, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. Houghton has covered politics, news, and lifestyle issues as a contributor to the Huffington Post. Her writing portfolio includes Criminal Element Magazine, a division of Macmillan Publishing, Today, senior fiction editor at Bella Magazine, interviews and reviews for HBO documentaries, OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and The Style Channel. Before becoming a full-time  author, Kristen, who holds an Ed.D. in linguistics, taught World Languages on the high school and university levels. Along with her husband, educator Alan William Hopper, she is a philanthropist for Project Literacy and Shelters With Heart, safe havens for victims of domestic abuse and their pets . mailto:  [email protected]