It’s freezing. Your schedule is packed with holiday parties. You’ve spent all of your money on presents. And now you’re looking to date someone not serious enough where you have to tell your relatives but just serious enough to know you’ve locked down a New Year’s kiss? Good luck — you’re going to need it. Because December is one of the most complicated months to lock down a date with anyone who is not just using you as a plus-one to a holiday party. Here’s why:
1. Everything feels more serious.
Milestones that are typically saved for serious couples are front and center when you start dating in December. There are work parties where you meet co-workers; holiday parties where you meet friends; going home for the holidays, where you meet the parents. It’s nearly impossible to avoid commitment! And that can lead to mixed signals.
“Dating in December just feels more serious,” says Anna Morgenstern, a 30-year-old who works in advertising in New York. “I was dating a guy, and right before Christmas I mentioned I was staying in the city and didn’t have plans. So he invited me to his parent’s house in Connecticut. I’m thinking: ‘Wow, he really likes me. I’m meeting the parents!’ He sends me the train information and goes: ‘This is the train you should take. That’s the same train Juliet is taking.’ I go, ‘Who is Juliet?’ And he says, ‘That’s another girl I invited to my family’s house.’ He had invited multiple women to his parents’ house for Christmas! We had had sleepovers, so I thought it was clear we were dating. But he thought we were just friends. Needless to say, I didn’t go to his parents’ house in Connecticut. But I hope he and Juliet had a lot of fun.”
2. ’Tis the season to go big.
December is a month when you’re expected to get too-tipsy on eggnog or spiked cider — and then do things you would normally regret. (Such as hooking up with that cute guy in accounting.) So why would you want to be attached? “If you’re going into the holidays single, you don’t necessarily want to start dating someone, because there are so many parties and you never know who you’re going to meet,” says Sarah Billstein, 32, creator of the Instagram account Rosé Season. “You want to keep your options open and plant seeds for January, when everyone goes into party hibernation and wants to get their life back together.”
3. Baby, it’s cold outside.
It’s nearly impossible to look and feel your best while bundled up in four layers of performance fleece. “You want to cuddle, but you don’t necessarily want to go out because you’d rather be on your couch drinking wine, watching movies and eating,” Billstein says. The only problem? It’s hard to find a cuddle buddy if you’re too cold to leave the couch.
4. To give a gift … or not?
Most people are already strapped for cash after splurging on presents for family members, charitable giving and yearly bonuses for their doorman or landlord. Do you really want to buy a gift for the person you just started seeing? What if they get you something and you’re empty-handed? This is a similar conundrum to meeting someone the week before Valentine’s Day.
5. You see things through red- and green-colored glasses.
The sparkle of the Christmas tree, the romantic holiday duets playing in every store. It’s hard to not get sentimental and crave a cuddle buddy — even if that buddy is not the right one. “I had been going back and forth for a week with a guy I met on Bumble. I had a really good feeling about him from our texting conversations,” says Katie Haller, 28, the social media manager for dog-treat subscription service BarkBox. On their first date, they had zero chemistry. “But for some reason, I stayed for a three-hour date. I built this guy up so much because of the pressure to be in a relationship during the holidays that I was completely let down.”
The holidays can even make party boys seem serious — for a nanosecond. “My on-and-off hometown hookup for 10 years confessed his feelings for me right before the holidays, and it led to him spending them with me and my family. As soon as the holidays were over, he acted like the same person he was years ago — a party boy not interested in settling down,” Billstein says. “After the holidays are over, the blinders come off, the Christmas trees die, the lights go out and so do those hopeless-romantic thoughts. You realize they’re the same person you broke up with.”
Although it may feel like Cupid is against you in December, fear not — there is hope. I’m living proof! I met my husband in December at a holiday party. Three days later we had our first date, and five days later we had our first kiss. We avoided the awkward commitment and seriousness associated with dating in December because we did not exchange presents or meet each other’s parents. But he was my New Year’s Eve kiss, and shortly after, he was my official boyfriend. Nearly five years later, we were married.
It may be a tricky month to date, but it makes the payoff all the more rewarding.