While working in New York, my office holiday parties were female-only affairs. Worrying about how to introduce the men or women we'd been dating for a few weeks was far from a concern (worrying about my colleagues drunkenly trying to set me up with Michael B. Jordan was, but that's another story for another time). If your holiday parties are more conventional, however, and you're planning to bring a guy or gal along, you're probably wondering how to introduce someone you're casually dating to your coworkers (and possibly your boss as well, eek!).
Does calling them a "special friend" make it sound like they're an escort or a charity case (probably, yeah...)? Can you say "this is the person I've been dating" without putting pressure on your budding relationship? Should you just not introduce them at all and leave it to your colleagues to infer what's going on there? Goodness knows.
I turned to six women who have been there and done that — some successfully, others... less so. Here are their tips, tricks, and advice on what to do (or not do) when introducing not-yet-significant others at office holiday parties. Feel free to steal their ideas, learn from their slip-ups, and ideally avoid a few sticky conversations with your date, your coworkers, and the HR department.
This woman kept things vague.
When I was first introducing my now-fiancé to coworkers, I'd normally just say, 'This is my friend.' In the early days, I'd never follow that up with 'We've been seeing each other.' When you're in that awkward phase between hanging out and truly dating, I always think it's best to keep things kind of vague.
— Carol, 24
This woman met her S.O. at a holiday party (and had no idea what to do the next year...).
If you meet your S.O. at your office holiday party after drinking several bottles of wine while pretending H.R. isn't at the party, don't try to stake the value of your relationship on whether that S.O. wants to 'come out' as a couple at that same holiday party the next year. It's not worth the fight if they're uncomfortable defining the relationship in front of all of your shared colleagues.
— Meredith, 23
This woman sticks by her date's side.
I don't think it really matters how you introduce a person, just as long as you actually introduce them when you enter into a conversation (so they're not standing there awkwardly the whole time). Oh, and be sure not to leave them alone for too long. That can be so stressful if your date doesn't know anyone but still wants to make a good first impression.
— Amanda, 27
This woman let her coworkers connect the dots.
Before my husband and I were officially dating, I'd generally just introduce him to my colleagues by his first name. The ones I was closest to knew who he was, anyway. And for those who didn't know, my mentality was, 'It's none of your business' — hence the lack of title. Like, he is the person that I chose to bring. Make of that what you will.
— Megan, 24
This woman avoided the situation at all costs.
It took me a year and a half of working at my old company before I introduced my boss to my boyfriend... and we'd been living together for years.
— Alice, 24
This woman stays on the move.
I usually make the rounds with my date and just very quickly say, 'Hi, this is [insert name of date]. Date, this is my colleague. Bye!' The quicker the encounter, the lower the chances that things will get weird.
— Kate, 30
Now all you've got to worry about is making sure bouncers don't escort you out of the after-party (or, was that fear only relevant at my office holiday parties, too? Apologies again to the good people of the Meatpacking District...).
Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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