The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year for couples. Visions of holding your date as the snow falls perfectly onto your hair (that is somehow not a frizzy mess), cups of hot cocoa with marshmallows, kissing under twinkling lights, ice skating…yeah, those are nice movie-magic moments.
But let’s get real; dating in December can seriously suck. Everyone has preexisting travel plans, family obligations, holiday parties, and then there’s that whole gift giving business. All of these factors can put a first date in a really awkward situation. Navigating a budding relationship can be rough as is, but throwing holiday season road bumps into the mix can feel like a major make-or-break situation.
However, this doesn’t mean you should close up shop, deactivate your online profile, and decline offers for social interaction just to avoid meeting someone special, or just retreat into general hibernation. Nay, you should conduct business as usual, but proceed with caution!
Here are some helpful tips to salvage newbie relationships during the holidays:
1. Don’t freak if your current love interest has travel plans.
These plans might postpone a second or third hang out for a week or so, but it’s nothing to get stressy over. He or she had a life before you met, so let’s not fault anyone for that. If there really were sparks, the fire won’t die out during a few measly days visiting extended family.
Even if travel plans seem to muck things up, it probably wasn’t the trip, but rather a lackluster chemistry. Last year I went on a date with a perfectly nice guy right before Thanksgiving. He went home for the holiday and I haven’t heard from him since. It wasn’t the Turkey; it was me, and that’s OK!
2. Be cool if you don’t get invited to be the plus one at a holiday party.
Many people (I am not one of them, but I speculate most people are not as unprofessional as I am) like to separate their work and personal lives. Being a plus one at a holiday work function probably isn’t going to happen, so don’t read too much into it.
However, holiday parties with friends are up for grabs. If you and your new lover are hardcore gelling from the get go, it’s not unreasonable to be meet the friends a little early in the relationship because there are tons of excuses to do so with “Latkes and Vodka” parties all month. That said, in the event that you are unsure where things stand, there is no reason you need to push the relationship further than it is. Don’t feel obligated to extend an invitation or accept another.
3. Forgive lag time in communication.
I feel like this is the only time of year I will allow for communication delays, chalking it up to “the holidays.” However, if the infrequent and vague texting, messages, and calls persist well into January, call off the search party and abandon ship.
4. Be open and honest about gifts.
Giving and receiving gifts is a personal thing, unless you’re a twenty-year-old just starting a temp job in the Nordstrom lingerie department and are forced to participate in a $50 minimum secret Santa with a bunch of old women. Yeah, that happened!
If you’ve only been on a few dates, and Hanukkah happens to roll around, don’t go nuts about what to get this person you barely know. If you really like him or her, and are feeling the spirit of giving, you should do so. Don’t make weird rules for yourself! Either have a casual conversation prior to frantic shopping, expressing that you would like to give a gift, but do not expect one in return, or just go for it and surprise your new love buddy with a little something special.
Just don’t go crazy with eight whole days of presents. One is enough.
5. Lighting the menorah together shouldn’t be avoided.
Just like the gift situation, I don’t see any reason to partake with someone you’ve just started dating. Last year I invited my new dude over to light the candles one night. It was a great way to bring us closer through shared experiences. In fact, he even showed up with a sweet little gift!
6. Try to get that New Year’s kiss.
While I think that holiday parties are generally on a case by case, let’s see how we feel, New Year’s is a different animal. It’s a night all about fun…and kissing. You should most definitely inquire about New Year’s plans and insinuate that you want to be part of them. If new lover friend doesn’t take the bait, let him or her go! If someone doesn’t want to make out with you on the only night of the year when PDA is acceptable, then no deal. Spend the night with good friends and start the New Year fresh.
Dating in December is tricky, but it can be done if you sit back and just let it happen. Holidays make us feel so much pressure in general, don’t let your love life add to it! Have fun dating this December, and you might even get a New Year’s kiss.