Every holiday rom-com makes it seem like meeting someone during the holiday season will lead to true love and marriage. While getting into a relationship is the easy part, building a healthy and solid foundation that will take your partnership past New Year's Eve is the real challenge. Falling in love during the holiday season is so easy that it can make a new relationship move much faster than it's actually ready for. According to experts, there are a few key reasons behind why this happens.
"Each year, the holidays seem to naturally inspire a sense of wonder in our environment as well as internally at our core," Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach who's certified in solution-focused life coaching, tells Bustle. "Many holiday traditions find ourselves being called to make connections and bond at an accelerated pace. As a result, romantic relationships may bloom with more gusto than they might during any other season."
Normally, seeing someone once a week when you first start dating will keep your relationship moving at a good pace. It's enough to keep the momentum going, but not too much that your relationship consumes your entire life. But when there's all kinds of seasonal events going on and holiday parties to attend, you can easily spend several nights a week with your new partner.
In fact, Anna Morgenstern, dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle that having a go-to plus one is one of the main reasons why new relationships feel more serious during the holidays.
"Friendsgiving dinner, a date to your office holiday party, and someone special to kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve are events that feel like huge milestones in a relationship," Morgenstern says. "It can make you feel more bonded to your partner than you actually are."
Trescott adds that the "romance of the season" can also make you feel much more inviting. During any other time of the year, it might take months before you're ready to introduce your partner to your family. But the holiday season can make you want to bring your partner to experience all your family traditions, even if you've only been dating for a short time. Next thing you know, your family is asking you all kinds of questions about them and you barely know the answers. You may even discover things about your new partner that you don't even like.
"While the desire to partner meaningfully during this time can be genuine, couples may set themselves up for future disappointment by expecting the holiday spirit to continue to fuel the relationship into the new year," Trescott says. "So make sure the romance of the season isn’t what you’re really falling in love with."
How To Stay Grounded During The Holidays When You're In A New Relationship
"When you’re in a new relationship and you’ve got all those great love chemicals flying around your brain, it can make you do things you’ll later regret," Abby Medcalf, PhD, a psychologist and author who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. So there are a few rules you should keep in mind.
For one, don't go overboard on a gift. If you've been dating for less than three months, spending $50 on a gift should do. According to Medcalf, you don't need to try too hard to make your new partner be into you. So pick something that's thoughtful. "If all goes well, you’ll have many years to buy bigger presents," she says.
The holiday season can also increase tension in new relationships. So it's important to do what you can to keep it as low conflict as possible. As Medcalf says, the best way to do this is to ask questions. Giving suggestions, offering unsolicited advice, and criticizing all invite friction and arguments. But when you ask questions, it opens up dialogue. If you're going to survive the holiday season intact, communication is key.
Lastly, don't take it personally when your partner's expectations for the holidays don't match up to yours. Just because you feel like you're ready to bring your partner home, it doesn't mean that they are. If they decline your invitation, it doesn't mean that they don't see a future with you either.
"It's good to always remember that relationships are marathons, not sprints," Morgenstern says. It's OK to take it slow, especially emotionally.
The romance of the holiday season can make your relationship seem more serious than it is. But it takes time to know someone and to decide if they're the right one for you. So try as best as you can to not get too caught up in it. Have fun getting to know your partner without getting too ahead of yourself. If you can build a solid foundation for your relationship this year, next year will be even better.
Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach and host of the Thank You Heartbreak podcast
Anna Morgenstern, dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle.
Abby Medcalf, PhD, psychologist