With the holiday season upon us, new relationships can have a joyful glow and bring us even greater pleasure than at other times of year.
Even after only a handful of dates with someone special, if things are working well we delight more in everything about that person.
Conversely, being single and without someone special in our lives at this time of year can magnify our feelings of loneliness and neediness.
Either way . . . happily chugging along in a good new relationship, or still looking . . . the holidays can make us more vulnerable and at risk for making bad decisions.
We may feel that the relationship has moved along further than it really has.
Here are some relationship situations that typically come up during the holidays, and some suggestions on how to deal with them.
5 Holiday Dating Mistakes You May Be Making
1. Being lax about sticking to your dating plan and respecting your absolute deal breaker character traits.
We’ve been hammered so hard throughout our lives that we should be with someone special for the holidays – and especially on New Years Eve – that some of us make foolish exceptions, just so we’ll have someone to kiss under the mistletoe.
We’re suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to get to that happily-ever-after feeling faster.
We may be tempted to put aside our carefully considered list of acceptable and unacceptable traits in our ideal partner.
Let’s say you’ve determined that a smoker could never be your ideal partner, but right now that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.
Stick to your plan about this and your other deal breakers. Remember that these things are important to you.
Or, let’s say you want to wait a few months before having sex. But New Years Eve arrives only 4 weeks into the relationship . . . and you REALLY like her or him.
My advice. No matter how great everything seems, take it slow. If your date doesn’t respect that, what does it say about their character?
Early in my relationship with Sam, and 5 years later with Cosmo, this issue came up.
I met both of them at the end of the year. In both cases, we wanted to wait a certain amount of time to have sex. The holidays came before that amount of time had passed. As much as we wanted to, we stuck to our plan, and were always glad that we did.
It’s probably okay to have a friendship date on one of the holidays, as long as you both agree that it means nothing more than that.
And go back to the initial work you did defining your dating plan. Haven’t done that work? Well, get to it before you’re into the thick of the holidays.
2. Whether to buy her or him a holiday gift and how extravagant you should be.
If you’re only a date or two into a potential relationship, it’s probably too early to buy them any gift.
If you’re further along, a small gift is probably in order. Why not discuss it with them, and come to an agreement? Maybe keep it to a small dollar amount like, say, $20.
But certainly, don’t test the strength of the relationship by expecting a substantial gift, and being disappointed if they don’t come through.
3. More alcohol consumption can encourage risky or foolish behavior.
Unless they’re teetotalers, people tend to drink more over the holidays.
The liquor industry pumps us with notions like “What’s New Years’ Eve without champagne?”, store shelves are stocked with special holiday brews and concoctions, and at various functions people push drinks on us more.
You’re made to feel that you can’t have a good time without drinking . . . or drinking more than usual.
When you drink more than you’re used to handling, you can say and do things you’ll regret.
Play it safe. Don’t drink too much, or don’t drink anything. If your date keeps pushing drinks on you, even though you keep saying “No”, they’re not being respectful of your wishes.
And, you may have a problem drinker on your hands. Pay attention to those clues.
4. Whether to introduce her or him to friends and/or family at a holiday function.
Holiday family gatherings can be stressful.
Old hurts and unresolved issues can resurface, making for very unpleasant conversations. More alcohol than usual may be consumed, fueling unpleasant conversations even more.
You may have a hard time with these get-togethers yourself. Think about how difficult they could be for your new partner, especially if it’s early in the relationship.
Some people avoid family holiday gatherings all together, and have established a tradition of getting together with friends instead, for a more peaceful meal.
Whether your tradition includes family or friend get-togethers, introducing a new-comer in the form of a potential partner can be sticky . . . for your date and for you.
Imagine your date sitting down with a group of people you know very well. She or he won’t know anyone, and they barely know you.
If it’s early in the relationship, say, only a few dates in – even if things are going very well – think twice before choosing a holiday meal to bring in your date for the first time.
For my first holiday seasons with Sam and 5 years later with Cosmo, we decided NOT to bring the other to one of these events. Things were too new and perhaps too fragile. It was a good decision.
5. Whether to break up with someone before or after the holidays.
I suppose there’s never a good time to break up with someone.
If you’ve only had one or two dates, you’re not really “breaking up” because you don’t have a relationship yet.
But, the impact to the other person can still be powerful, especially because they may have been counting on being with someone over the holidays.
On the other hand, if you suspect they’re emotionally unstable and you’re afraid they’ll fall apart if you break it off before the holidays, it’s probably better to end things sooner than later.
Don’t set yourself up to be co-dependent with anyone. You may do more harm than good by waiting.
Putting their emotional stability aside, it’s not a good idea to string someone along, letting them think you’re into them, just so you won’t have to break up during the holidays.
I’m hedging because each circumstance is unique and should be well thought through.
What I can advise is this – whatever you do, always be kind and respectful.
About 10 years ago, my ex-husband magnanimously waited until January 6 to abruptly, and without warning, walk out on me. He’s probably still patting himself on the back for that. The pain was no less devastating for me because he waited until after the holidays.
I don’t know. Maybe it would have been worse if he did it during the holidays.
If you’re the victim of a holiday breakup, Certified Dating Coach Damona Hoffman offered 5 healthy ways to recover in a Huffington Post article:
- Make a list of your wants and needs in a mate for the future.
- Get a date. Go to online dating sites where new memberships surge between Thanksgiving and New Years.
- Give yourself a break. Don’t beat yourself up about it. If it’s not working for one person, the relationship probably won’t work at all.
- Call a friend. Don’t hibernate. Surround yourself with those who care about you.
- Take a trip. Even a long drive can help shake you out of your misery.