How to Handle the Stress That Comes With Holiday Dating

Holidays are stressful for almost everyone. However, when you’re with a significant other, the holidays can bring up a lot of questions. New couples may wonder if they should buy a present and long-term couples may begin to feel the heat of more personalized presents (like a ring!).

The dating world is often a muddled mix of rules—both spoken and unspoken. But when gifts are concerned, the situation often turns into a tangled web of frustration, confusion…and sometimes disappointment. During the most festive and wonderful time of the year, those in the midst of a new (or more established) relationship might be stressed out and desperately seeking Santa!

So what do you do when you’re dating during the holidays? For new relationships, should you buy a gift? Are the holidays the time to propose? Or is a holiday proposal insanely cliché? What if you’re dating multiple people and none of them are seemingly permanent partners?

The list of holiday frets and entanglements can go on and on. But, thankfully, the gift-giving situation isn’t a dire one. When handling relationships during the holidays, follow these survival guidelines:

Buying Gifts in a New Relationship

If you’re in a relationship that’s still on the new side, there may be a hesitation to buy a gift. The choice is up to you, but gift-giving may be less of a dilemma if the two of you seem to be heading in the direction of possible exclusivity. If you decide that this partner may be a keeper for a while longer–this doesn’t mean marriage per se—it’s best to select something small…or opt for an experience over a tangible gift. Purchase tickets to an event or concert. Don’t give jewelry in a new relationship…that’s just way too personal. Keep it simple, fun and not too personal. Psychology Today also recommends setting a mutual budget…that way no one goes overboard.

Gift Giving for Multiple Interests

OK…so maybe you’re dating around a lot, and your dating profile is still active. Perhaps no single individual has struck your interest as a long-term possibility. If you’ve only gone on a few dates, don’t worry about buying presents for the holiday. If relationships are kept casual and non-exclusive, a gift shouldn’t be expected.

The Long Term Love…and Gift Pressures

There is an insane pressure during the holidays when you’re in a firmly established long-term relationship. That pressure, of course, is all about a ring. Perhaps the two of you have talked about marriage. Maybe your partner has been hinting for a ring. Don’t ever use the holiday as a do-or-die pressure to get engaged. Choosing to propose, and heading to the altar, is an extremely serious decision. If, however, you are waiting for the right moment to propose, a holiday proposal can be incredibly romantic. According to The Knot’s 2016 Real Weddings Study, December is the most popular month for engagements. And there also are many tips to find affordable rings for your budget. While you may be tempted to drop on bended knee under the tree, you can always propose in a horse drawn carriage in the snow, under the stars at midnight, or even during a romantic holiday dinner.

Plus One?

The holidays also mean holiday parties. So should a new date be your plus one? The answer is based on how you feel about the person. Don’t ever bring a date to a company-hosted gathering whose personality you haven’t quite mastered yet. You don’t want a date that may consume too many libations or embarrass you. For friend-hosted events, the decision whether to take a date is up to you. Obviously, if you already introduced the individual to your close group of friends, then you likely feel comfortable. If, however, you just feel better going solo, then don’t feel pressured to bring a date. You don’t have to rush your plus one.

The holidays add pressure to an already stressful time of year…especially for individuals in relationships. But, really, the holidays don’t have nearly as much influence over our love lives as we assume. Giving gifts in new relationships isn’t and shouldn’t be an expectation. However, for couples who are looking at a possible exclusive relationship, talk about gift exchanges ahead of time and set a budget. As for the ring? Don’t propose unless you’re ready!

Naomi Shaw

Posted by Naomi Shaw

Naomi Shaw is a full-time freelance writer who focuses on parenting, education, food, crafting and DIY, mompreneurship, writing, and anything wedding related. This working mom is married with three children living in sunny Southern California.

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