Dating during the holidays can be stressful! Do you introduce the person you’re seeing to your family and friends at Thanksgiving? How do you decide if it’s the right time to bring them along to your holiday festivities? Whether you’re celebrating with family or attending a “Friends-giving” with all of your close friends, Thanksgiving can be a perfect time to introduce your significant other to everyone….or is it?

Introducing a new person to your loved ones can be tricky. In order for things to go as smoothly as possible, here are a few key questions to figure out if the time is right!

How do you know if the time is right to invite the person you’re dating to your family gathering?For many couples this time of year, there can be a lot riding on this decision. The first thing you should do is make sure you and your date are ready to take that next step. Have an open and honest conversation and make sure you’re both on the same page. Ask yourselves if you’re prepared to answer direct questions about your relationship. If you really don’t know how to handle that situation or if you’re applying pressure on your date to attend a gathering or vice versa -- it’s probably too soon to meet the family right now.

What should you do if one person really wants to meet the folks and the other is reluctant? There are plenty of other holidays coming up -- and, of course, there’s always next year! If this relationship has “staying power”, you’ll both have other chances to connect with their family. It’s best to share in this big moment when you’re both really ready for it. Be careful not to read too much into getting an invitation or not getting one. There can be a lot of reasons your date isn’t introducing you to their family right now--and they may have nothing to do with you.

Let’s say the time is right to meet the family - what should couples keep in mind? A little preparation goes a long way. Talk to your date ahead of time so they have clear expectations of what the event will be like. What kind of traditions does your family have? Are they quiet and reserved or are they loud and like to have fun? Giving your date a little heads up about what to expect will help calm nerves. And if you’re the one meeting the family -- be sure to put your best foot forward and try to impress! Offer to bring a hostess gift or a dish to share and ask if you can help clean up afterward. No matter if you’re meeting their family or your date is meeting yours, remember to carve out some time for just the two of you. Taking a breather from the family will make it more enjoyable for you both.

What are your tips for how to make a great impression? Always be yourself! There’s nothing more exhausting and awkward than pretending to be someone you’re not, and it can be obvious to everyone watching - even to people you’ve just met. You’re there to make a good impression, but it isn’t a job interview. Relax and have fun. If you don’t know what to say, ask people questions. Learn more about that person you’re dating by asking their parents about them. As with any holiday gathering - keep the conversation light and avoid talking about politics, religion or other topics that could ruffle feathers.

What’s the key to successful dating through the holidays and beyond? It all comes down to clear expectations! Make sure you’re communicating with each other and respect each other’s time and traditions.

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