Holiday Dating Drawbacks (and How to Manage Them)

Mistletoe is easy -- but what about gift-giving and family events over the holidays?
Mistletoe is easy -- but what about gift-giving and family events over the holidays?
George Doyle/Thinkstock

The holiday season brings to mind such wonderful thoughts! Love, happiness, joy to the world ... but it can have its dating drawbacks — issues that you have to face in order to get through this festive time successfully (fellas, this is strictly for the ladies, so read on with that in mind).

Here are the three issues that cause the most problems between couples during the holidays:

  • Gift giving
  • Family dinners
  • Party etiquette

So here are a few tips to help you recognize the problem and then display the proper reaction.

The Gift-Giving Goodbye

For some of you the gift-giving part of the season may be wrought with disappointment and confusion. That's because every year the same dilemma seems to rear its ugly head: You and your man always tend to break up during the holidays ... over gift giving. What causes this problem and why is it usually the man who wants the break up?

First of all, it usually isn't a problem for "real" men, because they are not worried about whether to buy you a gift. If you have been dating for a while — and you have that kind of relationship — then he will want to get you something. But if he is cheap, broke or has ego problems with giving a woman anything (this probably isn't the only time of year he winces over buying you something), then don't expect him to come through and do expect him to find an excuse to break up.

Typically, this is an issue that comes up between young people who are dating, and should not be a factor in your relationship after both of you have reached real maturity. However, if you find that he still seems to get uneasy with your relationship during the holidays, you need to discuss it. Find out what makes him uncomfortable about it. Is it that he feels it's a statement of commitment to give you a gift? If he is not ready for commitment, he may feel that way. What if he doesn't really celebrate the holidays? That's something you need to know.

Is it because he doesn't have the extra money? Well, that is kind of a cop-out because women usually appreciate the thought — as opposed to the price — of the gift (not all women, but most do).

You can head off the whole "Gift-Giving Break-Up" (GGBU) thing by paying attention to how he has behaved at other times of the year. Has he been the kind of guy who gives gifts often? Or has he never bought you anything? Also, have you ever given him anything, and if so, was he comfortable receiving it?

On the other side of the coin, if he has ever given you something small or inexpensive and it came from his heart, but you showed no appreciation for it, that may be an indicator that you are about to be a victim of the GGBU. Think about it.

 

Family Events

Some men also avoid taking their girlfriends to the family dinner or event during the holidays. This is especially true if he has not known you very long. My friend Kenny used to go through this every year. He always meets new women around the holidays and then all of a sudden, it's Christmas. Oh no! What is he going to do? He definitely does not want to take this new girl to any family function.

If this is the case with your new man, don't hold it against him. He is just not sure he wants them to meet you yet, and so he is being cautious. It may not be a big thing to you (it's just dinner, you might say) but to a man, it means a lot.

Of course, if you have been dating this guy awhile, maybe he does not want to give you the idea that he is getting serious by allowing you to meet his folks. Or it could be that his family has some issue he is not ready to share with you yet. Just don't assume anything; it's best to talk it out.

Instead of worrying about why you can't meet his mom and dad, why not ask him to come over for dessert after he has dined with his family? That takes the pressure off him and could put you in a better position for future holidays, should your relationship continue past New Year's.

But let's say you do get to that event or dinner. How do you present yourself? Be on your best behavior! Remember the old saying, "the apple does not fall far from the tree"? Well, he is probably an extension of someone in that clan, and it's best to be kind to ALL of them. Also, pay attention to how he relates to his family members. If he is markedly different around them than he is around you, that is the real him coming out — take notes!

I find it is also a good idea to volunteer to help his mother do something — anything — so offer your help; it's just good manners. And don't start asking a lot of questions about him. If Mom likes you, she will tell all before dessert!

Here's another important piece of advice: DO NOT DRESS LIKE A FLOOZY! Trust me, your clothes tell a lot about you. If you are normally a bit on the flashy side, tone it down. If you are conservative, pull out that dress that goes below the knee, and don't wear anything that accentuates your breasts. Keep in mind that your man is still his mother's little boy!

And one more thing, do not get involved in any family disagreement that may take place. DO NOT. That is his family issue and he needs you to allow him to handle it. You cannot win, no matter whose side you take. So just keep quiet!

Minimize Messes

Try to keep fighting at home and not in public.
Try to keep fighting at home and not in public.
©iStockphoto.com/diego_cervo

By this I mean you should just forget about all that stuff that happened between you and your man over the past year and enjoy each other! At the Christmas party or the New Year's bash, don't start any mess. I had a male friend who took a date to a holiday party and all she did was constantly complain about everything! He got so mad he took her home and dropped her off while the car was still moving!

Even if he is the one misbehaving, it's better to just let it slide publicly and wait until you get home to discuss it. You won't solve anything by causing a ruckus, and you certainly won't enjoy the rest of the evening.

You don't want to bring in the new year on a sour note, so do your part to make it a good time. Why do you think everyone is saying "Happy Holidays"? They want it to come true, don't you?

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