Holiday parties, family gatherings and gift giving are just a few of the things that can build tension in a new relationship this time of year. Starting a new relationship can be tricky at any time of year, but connecting with a new flame around the holidays can make the waters even harder to navigate. Emotions fly high and the abundance of social gatherings can create a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to the do’s and don’ts of dating.
Salama Marine, in-house psychologist for EliteSingles says:
‘’Christmas is probably the most stressful period for everyone. Finding perfect gifts, preparing the perfect dinner; the whole month of December is dedicated to this special day. When you add a new partner into the mix, things can be even more complicated.’’
Indeed, incorporating a new love interest into your traditional holiday activities with family, long-time friends and coworkers can put a lot of pressure on the relationship. And, as Marine points out, there’s some evidence it’s especially stressful for women: ‘’Our latest EliteSingles survey revealed that Canadian men and women have different expectations regarding Christmas, especially when it comes to spending the day with a new partner. Compared to men, women don’t want to introduce a new partner to their family during Christmas, perhaps because they already have so much to think about!’’
Salama Marine goes on to add, “but there is no rule regarding this, every couple has to decide for themselves if it’s the right time to meet the family or not. The key thing for people in new relationships to remember is to communicate as soon as possible, and make the decision together so everyone feels comfortable with the situation”.
We teamed up with Marine to offer some specific tips to avoid common tensions that many new couples face this time of year:
As the holiday party circuit gets underway, many people will forced to wrestle with the dilemma of whether to invite their new partner. An entire room of new people, inside jokes and shop talk can make them feeling intimidated and left out. Consider whether or not the event will actually be a good time for your date. If you do decide to bring them, make sure you plan to invest the time to introduce them, include them in conversations and to make them comfortable.
If there is any uncertainty as to how they might act in the situation, or if there is a good chance you’ll have to babysit them all night, hold off inviting your plus one.
Christmas With the Family
Meeting the parents can be stressful. Meeting the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all at the same time during a family Christmas gathering can be far more overwhelming. If you’ve only been dating for a short time and you haven’t already made an introduction to your family, it’s best to wait. If your partner insists, make sure to present the reality of your family first (your Aunt’s cheekiness, your sister-in-laws nosiness etc). That way they can make an informed decision about coming.
Another alternative is to invite your date to an activity or event with some close friends. That’s far less pressure but still an opportunity to start building holiday memories with them.
Marine also says that, if you are the one going for the first time to your partner’s family, it’s important to remind yourself not to get too anxious about trying to impress them. After all, if you succeeded in charming your partner, their family will be charmed by you too!
To Gift or Not to Gift
Gift giving can be difficult to maneuver in a new relationship. Couples are often stuck not knowing if they should spring for something expensive, keep it small, or forgo the gift giving altogether. The EliteSingles survey actually showed that Canadian men and women are divided on this issue too: 67% of men want to exchange gifts with a new partner, while just 55% of women feel the same. What’s more, while 13% of men want to give a big gift after just a month of dating, 39% of women have been made to feel uncomfortable by getting something too big, too soon.
Broach the subject with your partner first to see if they would like to exchange small gifts. This will help avoid the awkwardness of surprising them with a gift only to find out that they didn’t get you anything, or vice versa.
If you do choose to exchange gifts, give something small and thoughtful, or even a greeting card with a hand written note; something that will show them you’re thinking of them during the holidays. Experiential gifts, like a romantic date night activity, are also an excellent choice.
Watch the Rum & Eggnog
While some liquid courage will help ease the tension and make everyone a little jollier, it’s best to keep the drinking to a minimum, especially if you’re meeting your partner’s friends for the first time.
Social outings with a new partner can be stressful, and the alcohol at holiday parties is usually free flowing, but if you want to make a good impression, keep yourself in check. Instead of worrying about what everyone thinks of you, focus on enjoying the festivities and creating special memories with your new partner.
Single? The Holidays are The Best Time to Meet Someone
Don’t invite a date just so you don’t have to go solo. During this time of year everyone is a little more social so there are more opportunities to meet new people.
Over the holidays people have more time away from work and more opportunities to connect on a personal level. New Year’s Eve, for example, brings everyone out making it a great opportunity to meet a lot of available singles who aren’t typically part of the ‘bar crowd’. It’s a great chance to meet someone special or get introduced to a new circle of friends.
Contributor: Angela Joyce
Photo Credits: Unsplash