Holiday dating can be a fun way to spend the winter months with people who interest you, but it is also fraught with potential problems.
Holiday Dating Dilemmas
With holiday dating, the issue of whether or not to exchange gifts soon rears its head. If you've only gone out once or twice, you shouldn't feel a gift-giving obligation just because a holiday is approaching. If you do decide you'd like to give a gift, something thoughtful and inexpensive is the best choice for those who are casually dating. Keep your eyes and ears open for hints. Take note of which book she lingers over in the bookstore or his favorite flavor of coffee. You can also give the gift of a special date, like a candlelight dinner or an evening of skating in the park. Remember that gifts can have a potential meaning not planned. A gift of lingerie implies you're looking for a more sexual relationship, while jewelry hints at a new level of seriousness. Gifts related to grooming or exercise can backfire when recipients think you're trying to change them or are dissatisfied with the way they look.
When contemplating inviting a date to a family gathering, first consider whether an extra guest is welcome. Is there room at the dinner table and will your family feel comfortable with a virtual stranger joining them? The nature of the gathering can also determine the appropriateness of bringing a date. If it's a cocktail party for the extended family and close friends, then a new person will fit in more easily than at an intimate gift exchange among siblings. Consider your date's feelings too. Will he have a sense of humor when every relative in the room asks when you're getting married? When you're married or in a serious relationship, you put up with the quirks of your partner's family because you're in love. If it's just a casual relationship, the off-key family Christmas carol sing-along is much more likely to send her running for the car.
The Office Party
With dinner, drinks, and dancing, why not bring along someone to share the fun? Having a date can also prevent a potentially embarrassing interoffice hook-up. However, turning an office party into an opportunity for holiday dating presents a few concerns similar to a family gathering. Are dates welcome at the event? If your company is budget-conscious, they may make the party employee-only. Will your date enjoy spending time with your co-workers? Since you're the only one he or she knows, it's especially important to make sure you don't abandon your date during the evening's festivities.
If you're seeing someone of another religion, holiday dating can highlight conflicts in your beliefs. The key to avoiding problems is to be open and honest about your comfort level at all times. If you're Jewish, perhaps you can accept going to an office Christmas party, but you're uncomfortable attending a concert featuring religious Christmas music. Don't wait until the day of the concert to share this reservation with your date, or worse, attend the concert and squirm through every "Alleluia!" Even as you stand up for your own beliefs, have tolerance for well-intended gestures. Maybe you don't wish to receive a Christmas card, but you can still accept one with good grace.
If you are cautious and careful, holiday dating can have its perks. Use this busy time to slow down your relationship and savor the thoughts of a deeper experience next holiday season, when you have at least one year under your relationship belt.