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Hinge’s Dating Expert Answers All Your Holiday Relationship Questions


Hinge’s Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Moe Ari Brown (they/he), sits down with Out to answer questions about dating, identity, and family around the holidays.

With the holiday season upon us, we have to navigate going home to spend time with family. It can be nerve-wracking. For a lot of people in the LGBTQIA+ community, coming home is a constant battle of figuring out how to live life authentically while also avoiding awkward situations with people who may not understand who you are. From deciding whether you should come out to your family during festivities to how to have a conversation about your pronouns, Hinge's Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Moe Ari Brown (they/he), has you covered by answering your Not-so Frequently Asked Questions about going home for the holidays.


Photo Courtesy Hinge

Moe Ari Brown (they/he) is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) who has brought together his experiences as a transgender, non-binary person, their years of clinical experience, and all of their creative gifts to help others live their most authentic lives. And now they're answering all your questions about how to enjoy being with your family over the holidays and keeping a romantic connection going while out of town.

Readers have a lot of questions surrounding coming out to family during the holidays. One reader asks, "Should I come out to my family before Christmas or during Christmas?"

It really depends on a lot of different factors. The first thing I think about is safety, always. Consider if your family might respond in a harmful or hurtful way. If that's the case, have a safety plan that includes an exit strategy in the event of a worst case scenario. This can include giving supportive family members a heads up so that they can be there if needed. Once you have your plan figured out, it might be okay to lean into the moment and share about your identity.

The second part is how you'd like to share this information. This choice comes down to what you want that experience to be like for you while considering how it makes other people feel. Ultimately, we want family to witness who we are in a way that feels celebratory of our identities. Think about whether you'll talk to everybody all at once or if you want to have individual conversations.

If you feel like you don't have a support system, you won't be safe, or there won't be time to share the way you'd like to, I'd say that holiday gathering might not be the best time to come out. You want to make sure that you're able to take care of yourself in this process.

I think the question that comes up quite often around coming out is if it needs to be in-person. Especially when it comes to personal safety, does coming out have to be an in-person activity?

Coming out doesn't have to be an in-person experience and it's normal for the process to look different from person to person. It could be on the phone or virtual. Of course, there are other "hybrid" options at your disposal.

For example, I've had clients write letters to their family after Thanksgiving. This gave their family a month between then and Christmas to process the news. By the time the day they went home, their family was more prepared to have an in-person dialogue about it and really embrace them.

Another major question readers have is how do they explain their pronouns to their family at Christmas, and how do they explain that their pronouns don't have to be a big deal to their family?

We don't have to explain our pronouns to anyone. There's nothing that says that we're obligated to do this. So first, I'd reframe it from explaining to inviting someone in to celebrate with us.

If this is your first time having this conversation, invite your family into this process by just sharing that pronouns are a way that people honor themselves and respect their identities. It's a part of the self-determination process, meaning that you're naming yourself for yourself, and deciding what's aligned and authentic. It's really important that all people, regardless of their identity, take time to do this. You can also clear up the misconception that a change of pronouns means a change in your whole identity. Let family members know your pronouns don't define who you are.

You might also want to lean into telling people what it feels like when you (or others) hear the right pronouns being used. "I feel loved. I feel seen. I feel respected. I feel honored." Offering those feelings and experiences help other people understand why it matters to you, without it having to be a big deal.

Finally, it's important to remember that while you're inviting your family in by sharing your pronouns, you don't have to share anything else you don't feel comfortable sharing at this time.

Say you're just starting to date someone and it's not at that stage to bring them home. How do you keep that connection going while you're away?

My top suggestion here is to schedule a date well in advance. It will give you both something to look forward to while removing any ambiguity about whether or not you'll see each other again when you get back. And, you know, make sure you keep up with good communication over the break. A few ways to keep it fun and engaging are:

  1. Send a funny holiday meme

  2. Share a picture of what's currently bringing you joy

  3. Schedule a video call

  4. Text each other questions about your favorite holiday memories, movies, traditions, and whatever else you think of

  5. Share your holiday music playlist

And what about going to your partner's home for the first time during the holidays? What should be considered before making that decision?

This is a conversation that needs to be had with your partner, and it speaks to your ability to communicate. It's important for both of you to be on the same page about what bringing a partner home to meet family looks like and means. Shared expectations allow less room for surprise, shock, and pain later on. Five questions I recommend talking through:

  1. Where are you in the process of coming out to your family?

  2. How do you feel about your relationships with your family?

  3. Do you feel affirmed and celebrated by your family?

  4. Will your family be supportive of us?

  5. If I get stuck in a conversation that makes me feel weird, how do I let you know?

From here, you can make a shared game plan that will help you balance protecting your relationship and getting to know your families.

What about bringing your partner home to your family? Could that relationship get messed up because of that choice?

Now this is a question that has more to do with your relationship than your family. It gets to the heart of whether or not you both are ready for that next step. But, the only way you can mess up the relationship is if you're not considerate of your partner's needs, starting with how you bring them into your family dynamic.

We don't all come from the same kinds of families. Don't blindside your partner, like what happened to Kristen Stewart in Happiest Season. Set expectations about how your family is going to receive them. And pay special attention to your partner's needs as the new person in the room.

Additionally, make sure they have space to share their thoughts. If they end up saying something like, "Your mom was terrible to me," you have to be able to sit with that and seek understanding. Really consider their feelings when they're sharing their experience, even if it's something that you don't want to hear.

What are some of your final thoughts on dating over the holidays?

Whether you're dating someone with family, or figuring out your identity and who you want to spend time with, patience is an important concept to implement. By that I mean allow yourself to feel any discomfort that comes from these experiences. Honor that experience and you can learn from it and grow. Learn who is going to support you and who your family is. And as long as you find a support system and love yourself, you can handle anything during the holidays.

To read more Not-so Frequently Asked Questions from LGBTQIA+ daters or to submit your own, visit

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