The Do's & Don't of Dating During the Holidays

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Dating advice expert, April Masini of AskApril.com, offers tips & advice for when to (and not to) introduce the family

Introducing a boyfriend to your family for the first time is a major step in any relationship that announces, "We're serious." No one should introduce a boyfriend to your family unless this is someone you want to go all the way with, and I don't mean sex. I mean marriage or a long term, committed relationship. If you’re not serious about him, don’t bring him home to meet the family – unless it’s in a group of your friends who are coming for dinner.

That said if he is “the one,” you’re going to have deal with the fact that families can be embarrassing. It’s chronic; it’s historical, and it doesn’t end except with familiarity, so in the beginning, for that first visit, here are a few tips to make everyone feel at ease.

1. If someone in your family is racist, anti-semitic or a serial-insulter, alert your boyfriend, and decide ahead of time how you both are going to handle any negative outcomes, should they arise. Make a few back up plans. If Uncle Ernie starts making racist comments, or disparaging remarks over the fact that your boyfriend is an actor, or unemployed, or a no-good lawyer, you and the boyfriend can decide to confront Uncle Ernie, laugh it off, let it go, or leave. Those are just a few options. You can come up with half a dozen more on your own. This is a good life tool for couples to have in their relationship toolbox. If you and your boyfriend don’t feel victimized by the relatives personalities and foibles, you’re much more likely to relax and have a great time.

2. If anyone in your family is alcoholic, recovering from something like an eating disorder, drug abuse, or has a chronic illness, you should let your boyfriend know so he doesn't show up with a case of wine as a gift or make jokes about dying or any other topic that may be off color given the circumstances.

3. One of the worst anxieties has to do with "what could happen." A way to alleviate this is get your fears out on the table. Tell your boyfriend (or a girlfriend or two, over a lunch date) what your fears are. Get them ALL out. Everything. Once you talk it through, the big scary fears may get deflated. In addition, your girlfriend or boyfriend may be able to tell you all about their own awful family embarrassments, so you don't feel so alone. What you thought was the worst thing possible, compared with his "war stories" suddenly seem pretty mundane.

4. Discuss a hostess gift with your boyfriend. Some guys don't know that they should bring a gift to your mother. Educate him. Tell him what she would really like. Or what your dad would like. If this is a holiday gathering, he might do well to bring a big gift basket full of food or treats for the entire family. If the family loves music, he might want to burn them a compilation of great holiday songs, which is very thoughtful, and they can put it on the stereo and have something to listen to and talk about. Regardless of what it is, when he shows up at the door with a big gift basket, a bunch of CDs that he either bought or burned himself, the attention will be on the gift, and you can avoid any awkward getting to know you silences or not quite knowing what to say.

For more dating tips and relationship advice, with dating advice expert, April Masini, visit AskApril.com

About April

Dubbed “The new millennium’s Dear Abby,” April Masini is America’s foremost internet dating and relationship expert, author of the critically acclaimed ' Ask April’ advice column and AskApril.com, as well as the best-selling book, Date Out Of Your League. With over 1,500 national and international appearances, interviews, reviews, and opinion pieces with such notable media organizations as MSN, CNN, ABC, FOX, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Fitness, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan , Maxim, Yahoo! (and that is just the tip of the iceberg…

Visit AskApril.com for more information on April Masini.

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