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For many, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. However, the hustle and bustle of the season can complicate dating and impact your love life.
Dating during the holidays can be a lot of fun, but it may also come with unique challenges and stressors. You may be wondering how to approach dating if you’re single, lonely, and dreading this time of year.
Or if you find yourself in a new relationship, you may feel unsure of how to proceed appropriately. Questions such as “What is the right pace for my new relationship in terms of gift giving and extending holiday invitations?” and “How should I manage my time during the holidays?” may arise as you gear up for the holidays and new year.
Here are eight do’s and don’ts to assist you in navigating dating during the holidays:
If you’re dissatisfied with your dating life, it’s natural to want to scramble to find someone with whom you can share this holiday season. The feelings of impatience and frustration may intensify as the calendar year comes to an end. Plus, the idea of kissing someone as you welcome the new year may feel motivating in some ways.
However, putting too much pressure on yourself to close the year with a partner can lead to poor partner selection. You may find yourself ignoring red flags and deal-breakers, lowering your standards, and settling for someone not well-suited to your personality and lifestyle.
Pressure can also exacerbate dating anxiety and self-esteem issues. You may feel worse about yourself and your life if you don’t create what you are looking for in the time you had hoped.
Therefore, dating with realistic expectations is a must. Instead of putting pressure on yourself (and your dates), focus on being open, and trusting the process. Don’t get caught up in the exact timing of meeting someone. It’s a better use of your energy to enjoy the holiday season regardless of how dating is going.
It’s the perfect time of year to ditch the usual dinner and drinks dating template and take advantage of the many fun and exciting date ideas that the holiday season breeds.
For example, consider ice skating, making and decorating gingerbread houses, watching holiday movies with popcorn and hot cocoa, and visiting holiday light displays or other local festive events.
Along with embracing seasonal and holiday-themed dates, be sure to take good care of yourself if you’re single. Even if your dating life is not in an ideal place, be grateful for the life you have, connect with others, give back to your community, and keep a hopeful perspective. It’s natural to experience heavy emotions this time of year, especially if it’s your first holiday season single, divorced, or grieving a breakup.
Navigating holiday gift-giving can be confusing in a new relationship. You may feel anxious about doing too much or too little and not being aligned with expectations. Exchanging gifts can be a warm and romantic gesture. However, going overboard with extravagant gifts and spending can lead to potential awkwardness and tension.
It’s important to be thoughtful and genuine as opposed to simply spending money or going all out to impress your new partner. While you may have good intentions, over-gifting can be overwhelming for your partner. If you’re up to it, have a proactive conversation with your new partner to set expectations and spending limits.
If you’d rather keep gift-giving a surprise, go with what feels most comfortable to you, and try not to freak out if gift-giving isn’t reciprocated. Consider a small gift that reflects topics you’ve discussed, inside jokes, or areas of interest. Or plan and pay for an activity date, such as a play, a cooking class, or a concert, as long as it’s not too far in the future (this can also be overwhelming if your relationship is new).
It’s common for the holidays to bring on indulgences that would otherwise be avoided or better managed. Excessive holiday drinking can not only be problematic for you and your health (physical and mental), but also for dating.
Getting too tipsy or drunk may feel fun in the moment, but oftentimes you appear unattractive and things may end badly. Your date or new partner doesn’t want to spend the holidays cleaning up your mess (vomit included!), and you may wake up the next day feeling mortified.
Being intoxicated may also lead to poor decision-making when impulse control and rational judgment are impaired, potentially causing a variety of uncomfortable scenarios you may later regret. While you don’t have to abstain completely, be mindful of how much you are drinking, set limits for yourself, never drink and drive, and be sure you are eating regularly.
Introducing your date or new partner to friends and family is a huge decision. The holidays can stir up pressure to include your new partner in family or social plans, but there’s definitely a downside to making introductions too early.
It can be anxiety-provoking for you and your partner to add in other people when you’re still getting to know each other and building a solid foundation. Also, including your new partner in family events sends the message that you’re ready to be serious and exclusive, so if you aren’t sure how you feel and what you want, it’s best to wait.
If you do determine that it’s the appropriate time to make family introductions, check out these tips. Otherwise, don’t let the holidays cause you to rush. Let your relationship progress naturally, knowing that there will be opportunities for introductions once your relationship is more secure and the timing is right.
Being single around the holidays can bring up feelings of loneliness that may worsen if you isolate yourself and spend time alone in your home. If you feel discouraged and down, you may understandably feel unmotivated to be social, but consider the benefits of saying yes to holiday invites and staying busy with family, friends, and events.
The truth is you never know who you are going to meet when you put yourself out there and expose yourself to new people and experiences. Even if you don’t meet anyone special, spending time in social environments is a good way to practice connection and vulnerability.
Plus, you’ll feel better if you balance solitude with social time as opposed to declining every invite. Shake off any feelings of loneliness by getting dressed up, being with friends, family and coworkers, and soaking in the holiday cheer. Your sofa will be waiting for you, I promise!
And don’t let the busy nature of the holiday season keep you from taking good care of yourself.
It may be a bit more difficult to schedule dates if your calendar is filling up and you have lots of plans, including travel. However, if dating is important to you, ensure that you’re making it a priority.
Sure, scheduling may feel a bit more complicated, but if you put off dating for the entire holiday season, you may end up feeling even more behind and dissatisfied.
Also, don’t let the holiday season cause you to neglect yourself. Make an effort to keep up with a somewhat normal routine, even if you have lots of holiday activities and travel planned. Stay as balanced as possible with self-care, dating, social and family time, relaxation time, and exercise, and find ways to beat holiday stress.
In a non-judgmental way, evaluate how the year went in terms of dating and relationships. The new year can be a fresh start to leave the past behind while setting goals for the future. Look for lessons and helpful changes you can carry forward.
While you’re examining the past and preparing for the future, remember not to beat yourself up for your single status or compare yourself to others, which will only make you feel worse. Instead, look for opportunities to be a more confident, proactive dater, and ditch any unhealthy patterns or dating habits.
Be open to trying new ways of meeting other single individuals. If you haven’t tried online dating, consider it. If you’ve been online for a while without much success, tweak your profile and sign up for several different apps and websites. Also, look for community activities, such as social sports, speed dating events, networking opportunities, etc., with liked-minded singles.
Whether you’re single or in a relationship, don’t let the excitement and fast-paced nature of the holidays disturb your dating life. Instead, do your best to implement healthy do’s and don’ts to keep your love life on track, embrace the holiday spirit, and stay aligned with your relationship goals.