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True Love or Holiday Fling? How to Spot a Seasonal Suitor

When holiday romance produces false hope

A Red Hot White Christmas

If you watch Hallmark Christmas movies, you are probably familiar with the charming but predictable storyline of a couple falling in love over the holidays. Their budding romance is glamorized against a backdrop of twinkling lights, snow-kissed streets, and dazzling Christmas displays at social events where the main characters are often presented as a couple to friends and family, where they awkwardly but eagerly embrace their new roles.

Practically speaking, looking past the aspirational premise of situational romance and astronomical power bills, do such relationships really occur during the holidays? And perhaps more importantly for the individuals involved, do they last?

Image by Andi Graf from Pixabay
Source: Image by Andi Graf from Pixabay

Holiday Beaus Beat Holiday Blues

Welcome to the winter world of seasonal dating. We all know someone (yourself?) that brings a date to the company holiday party or even a family affair, whom he or she has recently met. "Wow, they are moving fast," you might think. In many cases, not really. Many people dread the thought of being alone for the holidays, particularly those who are still dealing with the heartbreak of a recent breakup. No one looks forward to flying solo through what was a magical time spent as part of a couple the year before.

Others fear the stigma of singleness, which is often particularly pronounced during the holidays. Unwilling to face family or friends alone, they may unwittingly create false expectations in others by reaching out to acquire a “plus one.” Some would rather skip their annual holiday party then arrive solo, so they bring a “date.” Unfortunately, they and their date may have very different expectations about the status of their sudden “relationship” and where it is heading.

Seasonally Smitten: Partnering Up For the Holidays

Trending this holiday season and officially coined by Cosmopolitan magazine, “snow-globing” is a dating trend that occurs when Christmas magic causes dating partners to view their relationship as more serious than it really is [i]. They define the term in a manipulative sense, explaining that it occurs when a dating partner is “using the holiday season to con you into thinking you two are more serious than you are.”

The magazine distinguishes this phenomena from “cuffing season,” which they define as spanning a period from October or November to March, where cold weather singles partner up for the winter to avoid loneliness, boredom, and freezing temperatures [ii]. Snow-globing apparently only includes the holiday season; the magic melts after New Year´s Eve.

Cosmopolitan shares a quote from a self-identified serial snow-glober, who explains how the holidays provide a brief respite from an otherwise busy work schedule: “I wind up meeting someone around then, falling in love easily and then, unfortunately, as soon as the new year sets in, I choose work over the woman I fell in love with underneath the Christmas lights."

Why do so many people looking for love end up being so easily snow-globed over the holidays and how can they avoid being taken in by a seasonal suitor? The answer requires forced objectivity, the wisdom and perspective of family and peers, and a measure of common sense.

Detecting the Short-Lived Seasonal Suitor

Particularly for those who dread being alone over the holidays, it can be easy to optimistically misinterpret the behavior of a prospective paramour. But even the most magical white Christmas can come with red flags. You can spot them if you are looking. Here are a few tips.

Beware the short-term event planner: A party planner is not a wedding planner. Be wary of the dating partner that is eager to plan Christmas caroling with you and show you off out on the town for New Year´s Eve, but plans no further than that. You may see this excitable new suitor on New Year's Day, but not Valentine's Day.

  • Solicit collective perceptivity. Family and friends are understandably wary of seasonal suitors and skeptical of fast-paced holiday romance. Consider their opinions; they are more objective and have your best interests in mind.
  • Christmas with the crowd. Some singles may use you to fit in with their peers, who are all partnered up. If you are only being paraded out at social events without more relational depth, you may be more of an ornament than a love interest.
  • Christmas magic melts in the New Year. When your new relationship loses steam come January, consider what fueled it in the first place. True love is more likely to be tied to quality companionship than the calendar.

Beyond The Mistletoe

Some whirlwind holiday relationships really do have Hallmark endings, but most do not. Accepting this reality does not mean we should view holiday dating with skepticism, but with common sense and sensibility.

Couples who are swept up in holiday magic but find they are still a great match come January often share more in common than they first realized. This often happens when a seasonal single invites a good friend to be a holiday party date, only to develop a deeper appreciation for all of the qualities that made him or her a good friend to begin with—and then some.

So enjoy holiday magic responsibly, indulging in seasonal excitement, moderated by practical judgment.