Your parents may be hard at work finalizing the Christmas Day menu, but if you’re contemplating bringing your new significant other home for the holidays, chances are you’re just as stressed as if you were hosting.
A new relationship already comes with an inevitable amount of pressure. You have a budding relationship in its early stages; of course it’s natural to feel anxiety about introducing that seedling to something as quirky as family. Uniting your SO with your family is a big deal because both are important to you.
As nervous as you may be feeling about the big moment, bringing your beau home during the holidays doesn’t have to be dramatic.
Here are some guidelines to help you make it through the holidays painlessly:
Ask these questions first:
Are you ready for this person to see you through the lens of your family?
Sure, you think you’re neat and tidy, but parents have a way of outing your less desirable habits to your significant other, even things you don’t think are true. If you’re not ready for your SO to get an inside look at your family dynamics, press pause.
How does your partner feel about meeting the fam?
Make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to meeting your family; you definitely don’t want to force someone into something they might not be emotionally ready for.
What are you looking to get out of this person meeting the ‘rents?
Is this a turning point in your relationship? Is it the next step toward getting more serious? Consider what you want the end result to be, and talk about it openly with your partner.
What to expect:
Real talk: It’s going to be a little awkward. Sometimes people don’t click right away, but even if the connection isn’t immediate, it’s still salvageable. It’s realistic to expect a little awkwardness. That’s how these meet-ups sometimes go.
Your partner might need backup. Remember that your SO doesn’t know your family the way you do, so if you feel a conversation quickly steering toward hot water — or a dreadful lull — know when to step in and facilitate.
Expect your date to feel somewhat uncomfortable. Don’t be the person that leaves your bae in a living room full of family-vultures ready to attack with inappropriate questions: How much do you make? What are your intentions? Etc.
Tips for getting through:
Tell your family first. Make sure your family knows you’re bringing someone, ask what they expect of your guest, and alert them to any special menu requests, i.e., he’s vegan or she’s allergic to nuts.
Include your partner as much as possible. Every family has their traditions and festive anecdotes, but make sure that your date isn’t left out. Include him or her as much as possible: games, cooking, or gift exchanges.
Be yourself. Your family has a tendency to bring out the realest, most vulnerable version of you; don’t fight that vulnerability in front of your partner.
Listen to your partner. Talk beforehand to make sure you’re on the same page and that you understand each other’s feelings and potential worries. You might also want to come equipped with a back-up plan if things start to get overwhelming.
Remember your partner is probably feeling the pressure 10 times over! (After all, they’re walking into someone else’s house, into a room full of people they’ve never met, and asking to be liked.) Celebrating together can be a huge moment of vulnerability and while it may be uncomfortable at first, it can be a big step forward in your relationship.
Bringing someone home for the first time during the holidays can be daunting, but if you and your partner have realistic expectations, talk beforehand, and listen to each other’s reservations, it can also be a new and exciting step forward in your relationship.