The holidays are coming. And, ’tis the season for gathering. If you’re in a fairly new relationship, you may be presented with opportunities to introduce your new partner to family and friends. This can bring mixed feelings. It’s exciting to have someone to share the season with. But it can also be intimidating to have a new partner meet the people you’re closest to. That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help your introduction go as smoothly as possible.
As always, please know we are here to help if you’d like more support.
How to prep for peace
Let your partner know what to expect
Be sure to brief your partner ahead of time about the family and friends they will meet. Let them know the various likes and dislikes. Are there any subjects to avoid? How might the people they’ll meet feel about your partnership? Also, let them in on any traditions that may take place if the meeting is a holiday gathering.1
If you’re introducing a partner to your kids, wait until your kids are ready. Timing can make a big difference. Try to wait until your relationship is serious. Then, sit down with your kids and let them know all about your partner. Ask if they’re ready to meet them. If so, make the first meeting fairly short and in a neutral location.1
Remember, your kids will see this partnership through a different lens than you. Give your kids plenty of time to accept the new person in your life. They may not feel your joy right away. Also, you may want to let the other parent know about this meeting. Clear and open communication can help build goodwill for the future.2
Let your family and friends know what to expect
Be sure to brief your friends and family about your partner. Try to give them enough time to get ready for the interaction.1 Be honest. Is there anything your friends and family aren’t aware of that you should let them know ahead of time? Also, let them know how to address your partner. What’s their name and pronouns? And the same tips stated above apply here. Mention any topics to avoid, likes, dislikes, etc.
Let your partner know as much as you can about your kids before meeting them. Again, it’s best to move slowly with this interaction. Give your kids and partner plenty of time to warm up to each other.
Build upon common ground
Aim to guide the conversation to things your partner and the people they’re meeting have in common. What activities, hobbies, sports, clubs, books, shows, music, etc., might connect them? Anything they share in common can work to form a bond.
It might help to consider the art of good conversation. Listen. Ask questions. Show general interest in what people are saying. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. All can help make for a better interaction.3
If you and your partner are invited guests, offer to help your host
If you are attending a gathering at someone else’s house, offer to help out. Bring a dish to share, especially if you or your partner have dietary restrictions. Maybe help with setup or cleanup. Or bring a hostess gift. This could be a nice candle, bottle of wine, flowers, etc.
If the gathering will involve an overnight stay, plan ahead for sleeping arrangements. Does your host have room for both of you? Should you look for a hotel? Talk with your host and your partner about what’s best. Do what you can to show that you’re going the extra mile.1
Try to avoid having your partner’s first meeting with your kids end in an overnight stay. Wait until your kids are ready for that big of a change.
If your partner would like to give your kids a gift, steer them toward something that’s not too extravagant. You don’t want to appear to be buying their affection.
Avoid public displays of affection (PDA)
Even when people are familiar with your relationship, they may not care for PDA. Play it safe. Save your physical affection for later. This is especially true if kids are involved.1
Enjoy the gathering, but try not to overindulge. A first impression is one that can last for years to come.1
Get help when you need it
Relationships can be complicated. Especially when your heart is involved. Take a pulse on how you’re feeling and thinking. Make sure you take good care of your mental health.4
Treat your friends and family to another sweet. Bake healthy holiday cookies.
Published October 27, 2023