When relationships start as undefined, ambiguous, no-labels situationships, it's hard to keep track of when you and your partner hit certain relationship "milestones," like meeting each other's families. This can make navigating holidays when you're dating casually super tricky, especially when you want to bring an unofficial partner home for Thanksgiving. How would you even introduce them to your parents? Before biting the bullet and sending them an invite, Susan Winter, NYC-based relationship expert, love coach, and author of Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache, says it's important to consider how your partner will interpret spending a holiday with your family.
"If you see this individual as transient, you may be giving your unofficial mate the wrong message," Winter tells Elite Daily. It's important to realize that inviting a date over for Thanksgiving could signal that you're interested in getting serious. If it's early on and you haven't discussed the future, meeting your family during a holiday could complicate your dynamic if you want to keep it casual. If that's the case, then it might be better to avoid sending mixed signals.
On the other hand, bringing someone home who you might want a future with could help solidify the seriousness of your relationship. "If you like them and you're undecided, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to see how they blend, maintain their cool, and handle multiple personality types," explains Winter. "You'll gain valuable information about your partner from this holiday experiment and you may discover you truly enjoy each other's company. Or, this is the clarification that 'casual' is indeed the correct choice of connection."
Before bringing a casual partner home, it's also a good idea to consider your family dynamic, and whether or not they can handle meeting someone who you're seeing but not committed to. "Ask yourself: Is my family OK meeting somebody new with whom I have an undetermined future?" poses Winter. "Will I have fun with my unofficial partner? Will they have fun? Do they have the kind of disposition and personality that will blend well with my family?" If the answer to these questions is yes, then extending the invite may be a step in the right direction.
When bringing up the topic with your partner, Winter recommends being transparent about your intentions. If you're not ready to commit, but would still like to share this experience with them, be honest. Since meeting someone's family comes with implications, it's important to be clear about why you're extending the invite and find out how they feel about it. "Ask your partner what they think about coming home to meet your family," explains Winter. "Will they feel pressured or tense? Considering you haven't defined the partnership yet, do they feel this will be a positive or negative experience?"
You don't have to be in a serious relationship with someone to spend Thanksgiving together. That said, to avoid hurt feelings or confusion later down the line, being communicative is key. If meeting your family doesn't mean you're ready to be exclusive, then finding a way to communicate that will keep the other person from feeling like they were led on. Or, if being serious isn't something you want with this person, the easiest way to proceed may be to fly solo this year.