It’s almost December, and that means the holidays: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve are right around the corner. For many, this is the season for sharing and love. For others, it can be a time of loneliness and disappointment.

Whether you are single or dating – eagerly awaiting the holidays or dreading them – it is important to realize that you can make this season what you want it to be. You are in the driver’s seat.

This is the second of a two-part series on how to survive dating anxiety during the holidays. Read on to ensure a romantic and blissful holiday season.

A Couple’s Guide to Holiday Dating

‘Tis the season to be jolly and bring joy to the world! However, along with the festivities, the holiday season can bring dating challenges. Below are some of the most common issues that cause anxiety between new couples and ways to manage them:

1. Gift-Giving

The only thing worse than giving an inappropriate gift, is not giving one at all. Even if the person you are dating insists they don’t want you to buy them a gift, don’t believe it.

If you are invited to visit your date’s family for any holiday, the quickest way to make a good impression is to bring a hostess gift like flowers, wine or chocolates.

Gifts should grow in value with the relationship. If your relationship is a new one, focus more on thoughtful gifts than pricey ones. Be careful that your gift does not imply that you are more serious than you are.

If you are in a serious relationship and you are feeling uncertain about how much to spend, talk about it with your partner rather than tiptoeing around the issue.

Gifts should not make or break your relationship.

Romantic holiday gifts are appropriate when you are exclusively partnered.

2. Family Parties

Think carefully about whether to include your date in family activities. They may or may not mix.

The holidays may put unnecessary pressure on a relationship. Introducing someone new to your family could automatically up the ante and give an impression that is not intended.

If you are meeting the parents for the first time, find out in advance about some background details: hobbies, favorite activities, sports, and the like.

Bear in mind that an invitation does not automatically make your relationship status any stronger. You may simply be the date he/she is bringing home to the family this year.

3. Office Parties and High-Pressure Holiday Events

If you have just started dating someone, you should not feel bound to bring them to a holiday celebration. That may be putting too much pressure on the relationship, or worse, it could create the appearance that you are more “into” your match than you actually are.

If you are attending a holiday part together, avoid any awkwardness or hurt feelings by anticipating how you will introduce that person. Both of you can agree beforehand on an appropriate description: “a date,” “my boyfriend/girlfriend,” “a good friend.”

Regardless of your status, the holidays are an excellent opportunity to discover what you really want out of a relationship. It is important to be mindful of what is personally important to you about the holiday season. Whether you are single or newly dating, don’t rely on another person to make all the plans or satisfy your anxieties.

Author of the recently released book, “Who Am I Without My Partner? Post-Divorce Healing and Rediscovering Your SELF,” Deborah Hecker, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist with over 35 years of private practice experience. She received her Master’s Degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from The Union Institute. In addition, she is certified as a psychoanalyst and has extensive training in the following areas: addiction counseling, grief counseling, collaborative practice and mediation. For more information, please visit
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