De­cem­ber’s ro­man­tic pit­falls

Dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, en­chant­ment and self-delu­sion are in the air.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By ALEXIA ELE­JALDE-RUIZ

WITH hol­i­day par­ties loom­ing and stok­ing the mood for ro­mance, about now can feel like a most won­der­ful time to start a new re­la­tion­ship.

But al­though there are nu­mer­ous bonuses to get­ting in­volved with a new flame as the hol­i­days ap­proach – hav­ing a date to the of­fice soiree, avoid­ing another year of dec­o­rat­ing your Christ­mas tree solo – fledg­ling lovers should take care not to be blinded by the twin­kling lights.

From gift-giv­ing to fam­ily vis­its to ex­pec­ta­tions of en­chant­ment, the sea­son can be ei­ther a gold mine or a mine­field for peo­ple in the amor­phous throes of a nascent re­la­tion­ship.

Here are three hol­i­day hur­dles that bud­ding sweet­hearts should nav­i­gate with cau­tion.

> Get­ting lost in fan­tasy land:

The cel­e­bra­tory spirit of the sea­son drives emo­tions high, which can layer se­ri­ous­ness on a re­la­tion­ship that hasn’t quite earned it.

“It re­ally is a mag­i­cal time of year, but be­cause of that, it can be fan­tasy land a lit­tle bit, too,” says Erin Till­man, a Los An­ge­les­based sin­gle life con­sul­tant, host of a ra­dio show on dat­ing and au­thor of The Dat­ing Guide­book: Tips For Liv­ing A Happy And Healthy Sin­gle Life With­out Los­ing Your­self In The Dat­ing Process (AuthorHouse).

“It is tougher to fig­ure out what it would be like just dat­ing on a Mon­day in Fe­bru­ary.”

Till­man said some peo­ple like to be part­nered dur­ing the hol­i­days but don’t in­tend for the ro­mance to ex­tend past the New Year, which is fine as long as they aren’t mak­ing their love in­ter­est in­sin­cere prom­ises fu­elled by hol­i­day gid­di­ness. She ad­vises peo­ple to check in with them­selves and their new part­ners about their in­ten­tions.

Does the oblig­a­tory gift-giv­ing of the sea­son ex­tend to some­one you barely know? The short an­swer is yes, but don’t go over­board.

“There should be ac­knowl­edg­ment of the hol­i­day and a to­ken of ap­pre­ci­a­tion, like a cer­tain tea that they said they liked, or a gift cer­tifi­cate, or at least some sort of card,” Till­man says. “If some­one to­tally ig­nores it, I hon­estly think that maybe you shouldn’t be dat­ing that per­son.”

Yet peo­ple should take care not to read too much sym­bol­ism into gifts from their new paramour.

J.M. Kearns, au­thor of Why Mr. Right Can’t Find You (Wi­ley) and three other re­la­tion­ship books, points out that, “We some­times mea­sure whether some­one is com­pat­i­ble with us – and whether they re­ally know us in our soul of souls – by the gift they give us. That’s a high bar to reach for some­one who only met you re­cently.”

> Gift-giv­ing:

> Meet­ing fam­ily and friends:

It is one thing to bring a new date to an of­fice party, but do you in­vite them to travel to your aunt’s an­nual eggnog fest?

Ev­ery­one has dif­fer­ent thresh­olds of se­ri­ous­ness be­fore they in­tro­duce a new part­ner to rel­a­tives, but ask your­self if you actu- ally want your par­ents to meet this per­son or if you’re merely mo­ti­vated by ev­ery­one else bring­ing some­one home, Till­man says. If you are ready for the par­ent-meet­ing step, try not to get sucked into the “mythic ideal of fam­ily to­geth­er­ness and joy” that hol­i­days tend to dredge up even when it never ex­isted, or get dis­ap­pointed when your new beau doesn’t live up to the fan­tasy, Kearns adds.

On the plus side, the sea­son’s many fam­ily gath­er­ings of­fer a rich source of in­for­ma­tion about your new part­ner, as you both can ob­serve how you fit into the greater con­text of each other’s lives and gain a deeper un­der­stand­ing of who the other per­son is and how com­pat­i­ble you re­ally are, Kearns says.

“Fam­i­lies have an uncanny abil­ity to suss out weak­nesses or phoni­ness in some­one who claims to be wor­thy of their rel­a­tive,” Kearns says.

The hol­i­days also are a key op­por­tu­nity to spend qual­ity time with your new flame and each other’s friends, as “much de­pends on whether you can see eye to eye on the char­ac­ters who are go­ing to star in your life,” Kearns adds.

“Do they en­joy them? Does he take a real in­ter­est in them? Does she seem to pick up on the things you love about them? Does his or her pres­ence en­rich the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing with them, or sup­press the con­nec­tions you cher­ish?”

On the other end of the spec­trum, the fam­ily-fo­cused sea­son can mean that peo­ple have travel plans or other obli­ga­tions that don’t in­volve the new lover. The chal­lenge then isn’t whether the bud­ding cou­ples bond too fast, but whether the con­nec­tion wanes as other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties dis­tract you.

“It’s kind of an epi­demic, peo­ple don’t keep in touch very well,” Till­man says. “Both peo­ple have to be ac­tive par­tic­i­pants or it will fiz­zle away and some­one will jump in and take their spot.” — Chicago Tri­bune/McClatchyTri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Fleet­ing ro­mance: In this sea­son of par­ties and hol­i­days, sin­gles will be tempted to rush into re­la­tion­ships. Ex­perts don’t ex­pect the ro­mance to last past the New Year. — Filepic

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