Dating through the holidays can be extra special and it can be very rough. There’s extra stress from all the holiday activities, coordinating schedules, figuring out where and who you’re going to spend time with, etc.
There are several different phases of dating and relationships and each presents different challenges and opportunities. I’m going to break down each phase of the relationship and things to consider when you get together with family and friends for the holidays.
The first phase is newly dating and maybe recently committed to this new relationship.
In this phase, you may have been dating anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Everything is new, fun, and exciting. You’re enjoying finally not being single and having to do everything alone.
It’s okay to introduce the new person in your life to friends at casual social events, Christmas or new Years parties. However, this is not a great time to introduce them to family. I have several reasons for this rule.
First, don’t make the holiday all about you and your new boyfriend or girlfriend! This is a time for family. Depending on how dysfunctional your family is, they can ruin your relationship faster than Captain Crunch cereal can tear up the roof of your mouth!
Second, if you have younger children, it’s too soon to start introducing them to your new love. Young children can develop attachments very quickly. The last thing they need after a divorce or death of a parent is to have someone else torn from their lives if the relationship doesn’t work out.
Third, if you have older teenage or young adult children, they can see your new love interest as a threat to their relationship with you. This happens because they see a loss of family time together. They may also see it as disrespect to the other parent either in hopes that you’ll get back together with your Ex or in disrespecting the memory of a deceased parent.
Kids can really make life miserable for everyone involved if they aren’t on board with you dating. The holidays are not the time to start introducing someone new into their lives. As a general rule of thumb, you should have at least 6 months of dating exclusively before introducing your new love to the kids.
The second phase of dating is from maybe 4 months to a year in a relationship.
By this time you should know if this is someone that you really want to spend a significant amount of time with. Both of you should be looking at the long-term possibilities of this relationship.
Assuming that you’re with someone that seems to be an extraordinary match, they should be a part of your holiday plans. By this time some of the new has worn off of the relationship and you are starting to develop daily and weekly routines.
By this time you each should have a pretty good handle on each other’s family dynamics. Ideally, you’ve already introduced your new love to your family before the holiday craziness and there won’t be the mental overwhelm of trying to keep names and faces straight.
And, if extended family is involved there will be far fewer new people to introduce and remember. It’s also important not to expect your mate to remember everyone the first time they are introduced, especially if you have a large family.
Family stories about Aunt Patty’s crazy brother are much easier to understand when you have spent a little time before the holidays getting to know each other’s family and some of the skeletons we all have in the closest.
The third phase of the dating relationship is a year or longer.
By this time you have had your year of firsts from your first date, to first birthdays together, to first holidays together.
If this is the first time for you two to spend time with each other’s family, the traditional craziness will be just that. It may still be a little overwhelming for your mate, but they should have a fairly firm foundation in your family dynamics just as you should with theirs.
This is also the time where the two of you may start to create your own family and holiday traditions. As you move toward marriage, your rituals and routines will become more predominant in your lives.
It’s always great to have long-standing family traditions, but it’s also healthy to create new traditions as you move forward into a new healthy relationship.
I sincerely hope you’ll think about what I’ve shared with you today and use this information to help you be more proactive and successful in your dating life.
Join me next week for “Like it or not, dating is all about the numbers.”