To Introduce or Not to Introduce Your Partner: That is the (Holiday) Question

holiday

Every year, as people ease into the holiday season, there's usually more than just mischief and mistletoe on their minds.

Erica Prush

Erica is a Content Strategist with over 5 years of experience in marketing, media, and public relations. She has worked with top brands such as United Way, Staples, and Forbes Advisor, and her work has been featured in major publications including The Washington Post, Business Insider, and Psychology Today. She holds a degree in English from Binghamton University.

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Introduce Your Partner

For many, it's the question of when and how to introduce their significant other to their family members. Sure, it's a time of joy and celebration, but it's also a time that can add layers of complexity – and maybe even a little dinner table drama – to relationships. Pass the rolls, please!
So when is the right time to bring Caroline or Joe around to Auntie Lu’s house during the merry and bright season, if at all? How long should you be in your relationship before doing so? We surveyed 3,000 Americans to help us explore the intricate dance of bringing a partner home for the holidays – let’s unwrap the details!


Taking a Peek Inside

Maybe you already know at what point in the holiday season you’d introduce your new love to your family, or maybe you’re still trying to decide – but either way, it doesn’t hurt to know what other people in that position are doing. Here’s a peek at some of our data that proves you’re not the only one mulling this over:

  • Around two-thirds of people say they would not introduce a partner to their family around the holidays
  • Alaska and Montana were the only two states where folks would do it “immediately”
  • The majority of people prefer to be in a serious and committed relationship before introducing their partners to family members
  • Most of those surveyed believe that introductions during the holiday (both Thanksgiving and Christmas) add extra stress and pressure to the season”

It’s clear there’s a lot at stake for a lot of people who are in newer relationships around the holidays, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bust!

What Time Is the Right Time?

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Source: Survey of 3,000 Americans

In terms of reflection on past experiences, 37.4% of our survey group have, at least once, introduced a partner to their family during the holiday season. Interestingly, a vast majority – 76.7% – of those people managed to align this intro with their preference, with another 12.8% noting it was a bit earlier than they’d have liked. For 10.5%, it happened later than they would have hoped, which says more about how much they adore their new beau than it does about perfect timing.

When it comes to anticipating specific benchmarks, only 1.7% would introduce their partner immediately (Montana and Alaska are full of lovers!) while 6.6% would do so almost as quickly, saying they’d feel comfortable with it under a month into the relationship.

Although a decent chunk – 20.7% – is willing to take the plunge within 1–3 months, the majority of people at 36.4% believe waiting for the 3-6 month mark is just right. Of those left, 22.5% tend to stretch the wait to 6–9 months (perhaps to ensure there’s enough time for their family to get to know their significant other before the holidays), and 12.1% prefer waiting upwards of a year before that grand introduction. While we’re not sure who those people are, we hope they don’t wait that long to get their partner their first bouquet of flowers, too!

With such a range of preferences, we have to ask: does it really make an impact on relationship dynamics? An honest 45.8% revealed that there was no impact, painting a picture of seamless interactions and harmonious gatherings – good news for the worry warts out there!

That said, for 31.1%, it did seem to add some stress or tension to their seasonal situation. While we’re not shocked, it’s definitely worth talking about the 23.0% of people we surveyed who said it actually strengthened the relationship; even better news for those who might overanalyze a bit too much. After all, who doesn’t want to feel their relationship improve after just a big moment?

What About the 2023 Holiday Season?

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Source: Survey of 3,000 Americans

This year’s plans bring forth a mosaic of gatherings, most likely because we are all readjusting to what those introductions and dynamics look like post-pandemic: phew! A solid (and sweet) 57.0% are spending the holidays with a partner their family has already met, while 33.8% are flying solo. Oddly enough, only 1.7% will actually introduce their bae to their family this upcoming season – good luck!

It’s one thing to determine if you should bring Caroline or Joe to Auntie’s house several months before the hustle bustle, but another to determine exactly when to do so in the thick of it.

Were they to do so, 50.2% would before the season kicks into full gear (think mid-November), while the rest spread out their preferences, with 22.8% aiming for early in the season,15.0% opting for after the festivities (New Year’s Day brunch, anyone?) and 12.1% going for gold with first introductions landing right on the major holidays themselves, Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.

The connection here is simple: people are much more willing to introduce their partners – and feel comfortable doing so – when they are in serious or otherwise committed relationships.

Seasonal By State

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Source: Survey of 3,000 Americans

Of course, not all states are created equal when it comes to relationship dynamics – so what’s the typical amount of time to wait, depending on where you live? Ah, the gift of data:

  • Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Utah were all in the 1-3 months camp
  • Twenty-four states had the majority of people report they think 3–6 months is about right
  • Twelve of fifty states said they’d typically wait 6–9 months before introductions
  • South Dakota and Wyoming were the only two to say they’d jump at the chance after a month
Yes, these numbers might be able to give you some insight as to when it might be right for you, but no – there are no hard and fast rules to abide by, other than ensuring your comfort and confidence levels are sound.

Family Dynamics and Festivities

So, does introducing a partner during major holidays add pressure? According to all the numbers we’ve already unwrapped and the 70.6% who say yes, it’s safe to say definitely can! For 62.3%, the hesitation in bringing a partner home is rooted in embarrassment from certain family members.
And, don’t forget about how cultural values influence this decision: 28.1% said yes, familial expectations and traditions play significant roles in this equation, deepening the complexity for an already tough choice. At the end of it all, bringing a partner home for the holidays can be a beautiful thing, but is still a delicate dance between timing, relationship seriousness, family dynamics, and personal comfort.
Whether it’s navigating a new pressure or aligning your preferences with reality, the season brings with it a myriad of considerations when it comes to introducing your sugarplum to the (other) ones you love. And of course, there are always flowers to sweeten the introductions – even when Auntie Lu is already feeling a bit feisty.

Methodology

We surveyed 3,000 Americans in November 2023 on their preferences toward introducing potential or existing partners to their families. The survey participants were 64% women, 35% men, and 1% nonbinary/other, with a median age of 35.

Fair Use

Looking to share this data or use the infographics? You’re welcome to use either for any non-commercial purposes. Please be sure to include a link citing this page.

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