Holiday Dating Disasters

Think you’ve had some incredibly bad romantic luck during this season? Check out these tales and see how you compare.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

f misery does love company, or if you just need a jolt of laughter, check out this list of five outrageous holiday gaffes—and get some tips for recovering in case you commit them, too.

And, just as a point of reference, in my family the gaffe of the century occurred when my date — someone I’d been seeing a few months — came over a few days before Christmas. We were all drinking eggnog, and
“I didn’t get my date’s parents a gift… but they got me one!”
he kept offering to fill empty glasses. We thought he was being mannerly. It wasn’t until he passed out in the bathroom that we surmised he’d been adding a splash of whisky to his nog each time he went to refill a glass. You better believe he learned his lesson, and that was the end of his nog consumption that holiday season.

Holiday gaffe #1
Heather Penney of Boston, MA had just started dating someone before the holidays. “When I went over on Christmas Eve, his parents had gotten me a little gift. Nothing big, but I hadn’t brought them anything. His mom called me out for it! She said something like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry for getting you something. I assumed you two were in the type of relationship where you would do the same.’”
Tip: If you’re a guest, always take something—even if it’s just cocktail napkins. The gesture is more important than the gift.

Holiday gaffe #2
Here’s another reason why gift-wrapping shouldn’t be saved till the last minute. Mark Johnson of Federal Way, WA, admits he isn’t the most organized guy. “I was in a super rush before the holidays and quickly wrapped presents for the woman I was dating and her parents,” he recalls. “I’d gotten her a gift certificate to a fancy lingerie store, and her parents gift cards from their favorite stores. Unfortunately, I put the wrong card on the presents, so she got a card from a tackle shop, her mom got the lingerie. At least her dad didn’t mind his card from the bookstore.”
Tip: “Ever since that day, I’ve wrapped presents and put the cards on immediately,” Mark notes. Identifying gifts properly becomes especially important, we note, when lingerie is involved.

Holiday gaffe #3
“My sweetie’s parents announced they’d be making an impromptu visit—the night of my annual holiday dinner party,” recalls Dana Charley of Baltimore, MD. “There’s always room at my table, so I invited them to attend.” Too bad no one mentioned that the parents in question didn’t eat pork for religious reasons. “Imagine my horror (and theirs) when they saw me getting ready to bring out pork loin.
“My date threw
a fit when I double-dipped.”
Luckily, I had a couple of filets in the freezer and dinner was only served 30 minutes late.”
Tip: “From now on,” Dana says, “I always ask about dietary restrictions before guests come over!” And if you or your relatives are the ones with the dietary restrictions—by all means, speak up.

Holiday gaffe #4
A lively debate is one thing… getting up on a soapbox is another, as Wylecia Roberts of Atlanta, GA found out. She thinks Christmas is an over-rated holiday. “I was ranting against the commercialization of Christmas, railing against people who lavish tons of gifts on their families and friends,” she says. “The guy I was dating got really quiet and when I asked what was wrong, he told me I’d just described how his family celebrates Christmas and that it was his favorite holiday.”
Tip: “My Grandma was right,” Wylecia says. “Never talk about religion or religious observances!” —especially if you have a strong and/or negative opinion. Holiday times just aren’t the right time to air those beliefs.

Holiday gaffe #5
You might want to be on your best behavior, especially when it comes to your table manners, at this time. “I thought people only cared about this on Seinfeld, but I got caught double-dipping at my date’s holiday party and she flipped,” says Darwin Hatfield of Chicago, IL. “She threw out the dip and apologized to her friends. I decided it was time to leave—the party and the relationship.”
Tip: OK, OK: So Darwin’s girlfriend perhaps had an unnaturally strong reaction. But that said, you can’t go wrong being overly cautious about table manners. Never re-dip after you take a bite. Don’t commit a boarding-house reach right across the table to get at those biscuits. And commenting that you’re so full you could burst after a big holiday meal probably won’t win you brownie points, either.

Learn from these people’s miscues and hopefully you’ll avoid making any embarrassing mistakes during your holiday interactions. Here’s to a season full of harmony and good cheer!

Margot Carmichael Lester is a writer based in Carrboro, NC. Her work also appears in the Los Angeles Business Journal and Go magazine.
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