With the holidays right around the corner, lots of couples are considering taking the opportunity to meet each other’s families for the first time. For members of the LGBT community, this major milestone can sometimes be particularly daunting.
While there are lots of families who are open minded enough to welcome a new partner regardless of gender or sexual orientation, not everyone is so lucky. Families who are unsupportive of gay dating are a harsh reality for many members of the LGBT community. This can complicate things for people who want their partner to be accepted as a part of their family.
The truth is that gay dating has many of the same pitfalls as straight dating. Even without the particular difficulties that members of the LGBT community can face, meeting each other’s families can be a stressful for couples of any orientation. If you’re thinking about bringing your partner home for the holidays this year, there is a lot to consider. We put together a few relationship tips that can help you develop a strategy to make sure that this holiday season is as merry (and gay) as possible for you and your partner.
Talk to Your Family Ahead of Time
For members of the LGBT community, every coming out story is different. For some people it’s a one-and-done announcement, but for other people it can be a process. Regardless of your particular situation, it’s important to let your family know that you’ll be bringing home your partner for the holidays. Let them know this is someone that is very important to you and that you can’t wait for them to meet each other. If this is your first time bringing home a partner, giving your family a heads up will give them a chance to get used to the idea and put their best foot forward.
However, if there are members of your family who will be included in your celebration that you haven’t come out to yet, it’s probably a good idea to talk to them ahead of time, as well. Your partner will be dealing with all of the stress and anxiety that goes along with meeting their significant other’s family for the first time, so if possible it’s best to get on the same page with everyone in your family before the big day so that your new partner isn’t walking into any potentially awkward situations.
This will also give you the chance to feel out if there are any family members that might be unkind to you and your partner or use Thanksgiving dinner as a chance to talk about their negative views of gay dating. Hopefully this isn’t something that you will have to deal with, but if it is, it’s better to know ahead of time so that you can both be prepared and plan accordingly.
Remember that it’s always OK to be steadfast in enforcing your emotional well-being. If something like this comes up, calmly but firmly let your family members know that they don’t have to agree with you, but that you do expect them to treat you and your partner with respect. These conversations can be hard, but they are important if you want to be able to include your partner in your family life in the future.
Be a Team
Just as you’re talking to your family ahead of time, you’re going to want to take the time to sit down and talk to your partner as well. In so many ways gay dating is just like straight dating, and for any couple dealing with meeting each other’s families first time, the experience can be stressful. Keep in mind that even if you have the most accepting and supportive family in the world, your partner is still walking into a new family with it’s own inside joke, traditions, and quirks. What seems completely normal to you will likely feel a bit alien to your partner. That combined with their desire to make a good impression means that even in the best case scenario your partner will be dealing with a lot. Understanding what their concerns are will help you be more supportive of them when the time comes.
You might also be feeling the stress of bringing your partner home. Maybe you have family members who have strong negative beliefs about the LGBT community or maybe your relationships are strained for other reasons entirely. Whatever the case may be, spending an extended period of time with family isn’t always easy. It’s important to talk to your partner ahead of time about any particular issues that are weighing on you so they know how to be supportive of you as well.
One of the best relationship tips in any situation -- and in this situation in particular -- is that you and your partner should always remember that you are a team. Talk about your concerns and plan ahead for ways to be there for each other during the tough moments. Whether it’s rescuing each other from an uncle who makes off-color comments, remembering to clue your partner in on the story behind your family’s inside jokes, or just taking time throughout the day to check in with each other, the more you and your partner can find ways to make it through the holidays with your family together, the more smoothly things will go. By showing that you are there for each other the experience will bring you closer together than ever -- even if everything doesn’t go exactly according to plan.
Have an Escape Route
You know what they say about “the best laid plans.” No matter how much you and your partner plan ahead, there may come a moment when one or both of you needs to press pause on the whole experience and regroup. Maybe your aunt will have a little too much eggnog and make some inappropriate remarks about gay dating and the LGBT community or maybe your only-child partner will just need a breather from interacting with your large extended family. Either way, you’ll want to have a contingency plan so you can get away and regroup if you need to.
A good trick for doing this is to set the expectation ahead of time that one or both of you might need to step away suddenly. You can blame a looming deadline at work or an important client call that might come up. You can be vague with your excuse, but if you make it ahead of time it will be less awkward if you need to take some time away later on. You might even want to decide on a codeword so that you can bail each other out if need be. That way if your partner feels themselves reaching their limit you can “suddenly remember” that you had promised your best friend from high school that the two of you would meet her for drinks and book it out of there.
Plan Some Alone Time for the Two You
Although introducing your partner to your family is a huge step, don’t forget to take time to enjoy the romance of spending the holidays together. If you’re early in your relationship this is an important time for you to be building memories and traditions together. Don’t let the stress of introducing your partner to your family get in the way of spending some quality time alone.
If possible, make time to have your own intimate celebration for just the two of your before or after you go to see your family. Even if you’re staying in a guest room or in your old bedroom at your parents for a few days, there are still ways to make time for the two of you to be romantic and connect. Pack some candles and other romantic mood-setting items in your suitcase to break out when you are alone behind closed doors. Just don’t forget the lube to make sure you get the most out of your intimate moments.
The holidays can be an incredibly romantic time for any couple, so no matter what make sure that you are taking the time to enjoy it together. Whatever other drama may arise, the most important thing is that you and your partner are taking this important next step in your relationship together. Don’t forget to stop and take the time to let your partner know how much they mean to you and how happy you are to be spending the holidays together.
Gay dating, like straight dating, definitely comes with its own set of complications. For members of the LGBT community, bringing home a new partner for the holidays can sometimes prove to be particularly stressful. We hope these relationship tips can help you create a game plan with your partner so that the two of you can deal with any difficulties that might arise and get as much fun and enjoyment out of the holiday season as possible.