The holidays are something most of us look forward to. It is especially exciting for those in a long distance relationship because it provides at least two opportunities, quite close together, to be with your S/O in person!

However, holidays with family, whether to your home or theirs (or both!), have the potential to stir up stressful situations. Insecurities and high expectations could result in a miserable trip. Here are some tips to prevent that from happening!

1. Be Yourself

You may be meeting your S/O’s parents for the first time, or even the entire family. Don’t try to figure out what their perception is of you. Simply be yourself. You are the person your partner cares about, and you are the person they want to show off. Don’t worry about trying to please everyone.

With that said, this is the moment where your best manners will make you shine. Be engaged with the family, compliment sincerely, and ask fun questions about your partner. And it doesn’t hurt to bring a thank you gift for being invited to the family get together.

2. Be Prepared to Share

This may be the first time you will have seen your boyfriend or girlfriend in a long time, but it may also be the first time in 3 years they’ve seen Aunt Helen. Unlike the weekends you’ve had together where you can hide away and enjoy each other’s company alone, this time you will have to share your boyfriend or girlfriend with their family.

Sitting in the corner of the couch sulking while your S/O is playing with the little ones may not be the best way of coping. Instead, allow them to be with their family without feeling guilty about not spending every minute with you. Watch how your S/O interacts with their family. You can learn a lot about a person by the way they treat their loved ones.

If you prepare yourself about splitting the time with your partner, then you’ll be emotionally ready for when they are summoned to help in the kitchen or fix Dad’s computer. And hopefully there will be someone who will give the two of you permission to escape once in a while and have time alone.

3. Be Open About Others’ Skepticism

As I wrote above, it’s a good idea to be on your best behavior when visiting someone else’s family. However, that may be challenging if you come across one or two family members who don’t understand how your relationship could possibly work. You may get some push back about the relationship. Or the opposite could happen – you may be ignored or not treated warmly if they have preconceived ideas about your relationship and don’t want to invest in someone who may not be back next year. I

sincerely hope this doesn’t happen to you, but if it does, take it all with an open mind and try to see it from their perspective. Use the opportunity to quell some myths and point out the advantages of being in an LDR. But in the end, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone – it’s your relationship.

4. Be Good to Your Family.

The three points above mainly pertain to you visiting your S/O’s family. But what about when they visit yours? The key here is to keep a good balance. By all means be excited to introduce your S/O to your family. But don’t just talk about them and your relationship the whole time.

Make sure you spend quality time with your family. You owe it to them, especially if you don’t see them often. I guarantee your mother has been counting down the days to see you just as you have counted down the days to see your boyfriend or girlfriend.
And finally…

5. Be Good to Your S/O.

Yes, holidays are supposed to be warm and fuzzy, but let’s face it: family gatherings can bring out the worst in people. Clashing personalities coming together can bring back painful memories and people can regress into childhood versions of themselves. If you know you are susceptible to this, don’t take it out on your S/O. Use the opportunity to learn something, and to support each other.

Keep these things in mind during the holidays and you’ll come out the other end with a stronger relationship and hopefully a supportive community as well!