Happy Holiday, happy holiday!
While the merry bells keep ringing, happy holiday
To you (Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong)
Here’s where you can imagine the cheery voice of Andy Williams singing his favorite Christmas hymn, “It’s the Holiday Season!”
Mr. Williams is right. The holiday seasons do bring cheer and the sound of jingle bells. But if you’re a single Catholic man or woman, this time of year can also bring stress, sadness, or loneliness. And if you met someone online via a Catholic dating app and you’re bringing them home for the first time this year, the holiday season could also bring nervousness and excitement.
Are you excited and happy to finally share this person with your close family members? Or are you on edge and a little bit anxious for this person to engage with all the different personalities in your family?
Whatever your family of origin is like, here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re introducing your significant other to family and friends for the first time this year.
Don’t overthink it
“If you’re overthinking something, then you probably are.” That’s the advice one of my best friends (who happens to be a priest!) often shares with me.
When your significant other is meeting family for the first time, this is a great chance to see what the people who know you best think of the person you’re dating. Their feedback and insights will hopefully be helpful in your own discernment as the relationship progresses.
But don’t get too wrapped up thinking about this first meeting. Hopefully, it will be the first of many more opportunities to get to know each other!
Keep it light
When it comes to conversation topics, don’t jump into heavy or serious discussions on something like thoughts on the vaccine or politics. Keep the first time meeting light, fun, and even on the shorter side.
The first time you meet doesn’t have to be an extremely long visit. Spending a week at your parent’s home could be a little overwhelming for someone if this is the first time they’re meeting your family. Perhaps you just stop by the family Christmas party for dessert or grab a drink together with all your siblings after work one night.
Whatever you do for a first time meeting, keep it fun, short, and low-pressure.
Debrief as a couple after you leave the first time meeting. Ask your significant other questions like:
- How do you think it went?
- How did you feel about/around my family?
- What was the experience like for you?
It would also be helpful to get feedback from your family members who met your significant other. You could ask your parents, siblings, or other close family members questions like:
- What did you think of him/her?
- What were your first impressions?
- What did you see or notice?
As a verbal processor, I find it particularly helpful to share and process and get feedback from other trusted people in my life.
Whatever you do after a first time meeting, take some time to debrief the experience.
Coach your partner
I do not mean walk into the family gathering with a cheat sheet of conversational topics for your partner. However, do give him or her some background ahead of time as it is appropriate or necessary.
For example, if there are some difficult personalities to be aware of, share that. If there are certain conversations that never seem to go well, prep your partner ahead of time so he or she can know what to preemptively avoid.
You want a first time meeting to go well, and your partner does too! This is why it’s helpful to give your significant other some background information ahead of time so he or she can know what they are walking into.
Bring a little something
I’m a fan of bringing a little something the first time I’m meeting someone. Things like fresh flowers or a nice bottle of wine are a nice way to make a little extra nice impression the first time you are meeting your significant other’s parents or family members.
Make the effort to do something nice for the people hosting you. It goes a long way in making a great first impression.
Also, who doesn’t like getting presents?
What else would you add to this list?
What has worked well for you in your experience?