Getting into brand new relationships is tricky enough, but when new relationships start around the holidays, it can be even trickier. In fact, there are even people who boycott dating just before or during the holiday season because they do not want to deal with extra challenges.
One of the challenges that new relationships face during the holiday season is trying to figure out how appropriate it is to attend a holiday gathering, be it an office work party, or a holiday family dinner. It is not always easy to navigate whether or not you need to invite your new relationship partner.
Bringing a new partner to a holiday gathering of any kind is an outward sign to everyone around you that your relationship (no matter just how new it is) is getting more serious. That will be the automatic assumption for most people.
Where this may get unpleasant is when one partner in the new relationship is looking forward to sharing the holiday gatherings together, and the other partner feels that it may be too soon to attend such events as a couple.
Although it is good to know exactly where each of you stands, especially if you both have different views of your status, it can also be disappointing to find out that you and your partner do not seem to agree on the level of commitment that exists.
As a coach, I have been asked if it is wise to bring a new partner to a holiday gathering and to introduce your new partner as -just a friend-. I always advise against this. If you are going to introduce your new partner as just a friend, one of two things is likely to happen.
The first is that people may assume that you are actually involved and wonder what must be wrong with the two of you for not admitting it (perhaps assuming that your partner is already married and cheating?).
The second is that those people who actually believe the two of you are -just friends- may unknowingly make a pass at your partner, in your presence, because they assume that as -just friends-, your companion must be single.
After all, if your companion weren’t single, that person would be out with a significant other, and not hanging with another friend at a holiday gathering.
When trying to resolve this dating dilemma, the issue is not actually how long you have been dating, but rather the level of commitment of your relationship. It does not matter if you only started dating two weeks prior to the holidays, two months prior to the holidays or have had been seeing each other for two years prior to this holiday season.
How long you have been involved is not a deciding factor when choosing to bring your partner to a holiday gathering. It has everything to do with how serious your commitment is to one another and if you are intending to build a future together.
A couple that has only been dating for two weeks but is already secure in the idea of getting married and growing old together should attend holiday functions as a couple. A couple that has been seeing each other dating casually for over a year with zero intention of making any sort of long term commitment should not involve one another into holiday gathers.
If either of the partners in this new relationship is not fully prepared to accept how attending holiday functions together will be interpreted by family, co-workers and friends as a sign of a more serious commitment, then the ethical choice is not to attend them together, until such a time as you get more serious.