You’ve been dating a new guy for a while now, and your relationship is getting serious. As the holidays approach, you ask if he wants to spend the holidays with you visiting your family across the country.

He agrees.

You suddenly panic.

While you are thrilled to be in love and to share the holidays with your new partner, you are also hesitant, as you think about your family members and all of the personality quirks and history shared back home. No matter how old we get, whether we are in our twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, or sixties, we somehow still revert back to our childhood roles and need for approval, when we return home to our original family unit.

Here are some tips for introducing your new boyfriend/girlfriend to your family when you head home for the holidays:

  1. Make sure you tell your family ahead of time. The holidays are not the time to spring a surprise guest on your family, let alone a new significant other. Set aside time to call your parents and siblings, and make the announcement.
  2. Make appropriate lodging arrangements ahead of time. If you have always stayed in your parents’ home or at a sibling’s home when you travel back for the holidays, you may want to rethink the situation this year and stay at a nearby hotel. This will help diffuse any potential awkward late night/early morning scenarios between you, your partner, and your family. Also, this will also give you the option of space and distance between you and your family should you find you need it during the trip.
  3. Give your significant other some insight into your family dynamics. There’s no need to give him full editorial commentary on your feelings about your family members – just a broad overview of important or sensitive issues. In this way, you can ensure that he is not taken aback by Cousin Adam’s dark humor or GrandpaJim’s off-color comments. This background prep will help him understand why your brother is not drinking alcohol at dinner along with everyone else – and prevent him from making a joking comment that could lead to an awkward moment for all.
  4. Go over family expectations ahead of time. Let your partner know of any family rules or required activities. For instance, maybe your family always bakes cookies together the night before Christmas and he will be expected to participate. Or maybe your family always dresses formally for Christmas dinner; let your partner know ahead of time so he can pack accordingly.
  5. Exchange gifts in private. No matter what gifts you and your partner have decided to purchase for each other, make a pact to exchange them away from the prying, judging eyes of family. It will also help take the pressure off of gift buying, and make the moment together special, just about the two of you – not about your family, and their reactions to the gifts.
  6. Allow your partner space during the trip. Meeting your significant other’s family can be overwhelming any time of year, but especially during the holidays, when there are so many people gathered at once and so many holiday expectations. If your partner seems overwhelmed, suggest a quiet walk around the neighborhood or a movie date.

Your family will be thrilled to see you, but they are likely also just as excited, nervous, and somewhat cautious to meet your new partner as he is to meet your family. It’s easy to be emotional when we return to the comfort of our family, but if your family members don’t react to your new beau the way you had expected them too, try to cut them some slack. Ease up on expectations, prep your partner and family as much as you can ahead of time, and relax into the spirit of the season with those you love.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.