As the holiday season comes upon us, so does the season of family gatherings, for a lot of us. Time to head to the folks’ house for some ham, turkey, and togetherness.
If you’ve been a single adult for a while now, you might have experienced a feeling of being the odd man-out at gatherings. This may be especially true if you have a lot of family or friends with significant others and perhaps even kids of their own.
So once you start dating someone, it might feel like you’ve finally hit the jackpot. No more need to be a fifth (or seventh, or ninth!) wheel anymore for you.
The holidays might seem like the perfect occasion to bring that someone special you’ve found and introduce them to the family.
But is it always a good idea to bring the person you’re newly dating to your family gatherings? Here are three things to consider as you try to decide whether it’s too soon or the right time.
1. How new are we talking?
A good place to start in this decision might be to ask yourself just how solidly this new relationship is going. How much time has elapsed since you started dating? This question helps you get a good feeling for how solid your relationship is so far.
Maybe it’s still very early on in a dating relationship. You’re still getting to know one another. In that case, it might be too early to throw a big crazy family function into the mix.
If one or both of you is still pretty uncertain that things are going to go anywhere in your relationship at all, it might be best to hold off on bringing them to meet your family for the holidays.
On the other hand, sometimes a relationship might be new but things are going very well. Both of you might be connecting strongly and feeling like you have a real future here.
If you’re feeling confident that things are going great, and you can tell that this person you’re dating feels the same way, does that mean that it’s a go to bring them along to the family holiday gathering?
2. Will the function rush things for your relationship?
A lot of times, there’s something different about a holiday family get-together.
Typically, bringing your date to a celebration of Christmas or some other big holiday has a very different feel from just dropping in on your family some random evening with your date.
Holiday get-togethers are often more planned, more purposeful and intentional. In a lot of families, holiday gatherings are the one time where family members make a deliberate attempt to spend quality time together.
Bringing a date to something that has a more momentous feel will often make the dating relationship seem serious.
If you’re thinking things are beginning to get serious anyway, and you’re not concerned that family members might put more significance or pressure on the relationship than its ready for, then you might be okay to bring them.
But you should make sure this perception of seriousness isn’t one-sided. Does your date seem to think things are starting to get serious as well? Do they seem to balk at all at the idea of attending your family’s holiday function?
And if they do seem to be pretty on-board with the idea of going to this family get-together, you still might be wise to give them a heads-up if you feel like your family will be quick to jump to some when’s-the-engagement-happening questions.
3. How close-knit is your family?
Not every family operates the same way when it comes to visitors.
I know one family whose house was a second (or sometimes first!) home for a lot of the kids’ friends growing up. There was pretty much always at least one non-family member hanging around, even at times like the holidays.
Then on the other end of the spectrum are families like my own. For my family, the knowledge that an outsider is coming to visit brings on a storm of cleaning and preparations for a lot of awkward small talk.
Taking a good look at how close-knit or welcoming your family members are can help you figure out whether it’s a good idea to bring your date to that holiday dinner or not.
A casual, early relationship is still going to feel very significant in a close-knit, no-outsiders-allowed type family like the one I grew up in.
But in the type of family where friends and acquaintances are always dropping in, bringing a date might feel more casual, even at a planned-out holiday get-together.
And sometimes, if you’re having a hard time determining whether it’s too soon or not to bring them along, picking out your most low-key family member and asking their advice on the matter might just be the ticket.
Both the holidays and a new relationship are exciting. And it can be easy to let the excitement take over and cause you to move too quickly.