Friday, November 14, 2014

Holiday Dating Expectations

Who hasn’t seen one of those sappy holiday movies where the woman rents a man to go home with her for the holidays? Sometimes it is a friend, straight or gay, who plays the part. The message is it’s not okay to be single during the holidays, but it is okay to lie about being in a relationship. Some people reason parents bring it on themselves since they act like being single is a disease, a terminal one.

Males you're currently dating become busy or hard to reach. What’s up with this? Holidays are the measuring stick of dating. The diamond ads show up this time of year declaring only an expensive gift shows love. Television shows feature people going home for the holidays. Singles return home for the holidays because of tradition and guilt including the prediction that it will be some relative’s last holiday. In the end, it’s a fancy meal free. It sounds like the right thing to do. What could go wrong, besides the burgeoning relationship missing in action?

There’s the possibility of a sibling accusing you of being too picky and difficult as the reason you’re not married. Rather than argue, try smiling and agreeing. This takes the poison out of the barb. You should be particular. Explain, if you must, that you’re not living a miserable life surrounded by cats. (This rebuttal won’t serve if you have two or more cats in your home.)

One relative, usually elderly, whose social boundaries are non-existent, will voice the opinion that you don’t even like the opposite sex. If true, this might be the perfect time to come out.  If not true, it might serve to say nothing and let them wonder.

Too often people use marriage as a physical manifestation of relationship success. It isn’t. Plenty of men and women are in dysfunctional marriages.  One reason they stay in these miserable unions is this outdated perception.

Keep in mind; marriage’s original purpose was to keep a family unit together insuring the health of the offspring. Men being visual creatures often wandered off after impregnating a woman. Some religions recognized this tendency and made sure to include the possibility of several wives. Love, happiness, and the simple joy of doing things together usually never entered the picture.

A woman who married well, which translated to money, power, and good connections, was a success. A man who married settled down.  Arranged marriages were to make the best deal for the family, not just the individuals getting married. Marriage also provided an income for the wife who did not work outside the home.

These reasons aren’t pertinent today, but your family still acts as if they are. You have a couple of options. Change the subject. Bring a friend, not necessarily a faux date, but someone to take the spotlight off you. Don’t go, but do something you want to do instead. The last idea is controversial, but plenty of singles host their own celebration to avoid questioning worthy of the Spanish Inquisition.

As for the guy who vanished on you, don’t be too hard on him. He knows an invitation to a family dinner is usually one-step away from a proposal or that’s how your family might view it. Holidays bring romantic expectations with them too, usually of rings in small boxes positioned under a twinkling tree. It isn’t that he doesn’t care for you, but is unsure where the relationship is going. Spending the holidays together can be a big deal. We all have a variety of holiday obligations from work parties to children activities. It’s okay to take a holiday vacation from one another if you’re dating.

Honesty helps too. Relationships unravel during the holiday seasons because of unrealistic expectations. Been there, done that. Don’t expect your holidays to resemble any Christmas-themed movies. Dates do not show up in a horse-drawn sleigh for a romantic ride through the fresh fallen snow.

Be realistic. Don’t do what you don’t want to do because of obligation. Tell yourself before a family visit, your opinion is the only one that matters. Some of you are fortunate to have families who do not pry into you love life and offer unsolicited advice. Lucky you.

As for the person you only dated a few times, do not expect a holiday blowout. A small gift or card is the best route to go.  A whimsical gift is the safer route. My sweetie and I spent our first Christmas apart due to family obligations, but we did call one another.

Don’t wait around for the big date invite to do something over the holidays. You can be the instigator. Have single friends, invite them over for a night of movies, games, and finger foods. Too many people sit around waiting for life to happen to them. Decide what you want the holidays to include and take action; nothing that relies on anyone else to make it happen. Happy Holidays.

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