Ask Margot-Torn Between Two Boyfriends

She’s dating two guys with very different viewpoints on the holidays—should that sway her choice?

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ear Margot,
I’m like Martha Stewart on steroids during the holidays. I bake, I make presents, and I decorate to the nines. It’s not out of any religious beliefs, I just like the holidays. I’m dating two guys right now. One shares my thrill for the holidays, but the
First, it’s hard to be jolly when you’re being judged.
one I’m leaning towards (until now) thinks my decorations and parties are just more crass commercialism. Now I’m not sure if I could keep seeing someone who wants Christmas to be a quiet, conservative celebration. But he’s so cute and compatible with me on other stuff... what do you think?
– Ms. Claus in Manhattan

Dear Ms. Claus,
Oh, yes. The age-old crass commercialism conundrum. Who’s to say that your displays of crafts and decorations aren’t just your very own way of celebrating the spirit of the holiday: giving, cheer, joy, etc.? Too bad your love interest has to be such a Scrooge in the name of the Lord. Whatever happened to live and let live?

But seriously, sister, what you’ve got going on here is no joking matter. First, it’s hard to be jolly when you’re being judged. Second, you’ve got to get focused on the things that are truly important to you before you make any big decisions.

Because you see, Santa’s Little Helper, this isn’t about the guys at all. It’s about you. You’ve gotten an early Christmas present, because you’ve been given an opportunity to engage in a little introspection. To take a look at what matters most to you, to develop a vision of your ideal life, and to start taking steps to achieve that.

So here’s the drill:

First, assess your values not just about Christmas, but about life in general. What are the most important things to you? Go beyond decorations. Consider how you want to be treated and put it on paper. Envision your ideal life with a partner and note the key traits. Look for your core values and jot them down. This won’t be easy, but if you block out some time and really think back to when you were the happiest, the most satisfied and the most energized by life and love, you’ll be on the right track. Write all that down and start committing it to memory. And make a commitment to not settle for less than these very important
You’re going to need to have these conversations at some point, anyway.

Next, evaluate each guy based on how he treats you, how you see the two of you living your lives as one, and how he matches up to your items from Step 1. Look closely at old Ebenezer and try to imagine what it will be like spending every holiday with this guy. Are you willing to squelch your personal holiday joy to placate him? Do you think you can change his views? And what about Bachelor No. 2? You know he can provide good cheer at the holidays, but what about the other 10.5 months of the year? Is one more likely to be compatible over the long haul? Or will neither really do the trick? Figuring all this out will help you decide which dude — if either — is best for you.

If it turns out that one of the guys you’re dating is better suited to meeting your new values- and vision-based criteria, then he’s the one to date. Of course, doing this doesn’t guarantee success. But it sure makes it a heck of a lot more likely.

Not sure? Now you’ve got a great list of topics to chat about with each of them. The next time you’re snuggling by the Yule log, you can begin to explore your guys’ visions, not of sugarplums, but of their own futures. And you can have a little tête-à-tête about their values. You’re going to need to have these conversations at some point, anyway. And this little elf feels it’s far better to have them early, when the stakes are low, than later, when you’re already seriously into each other. I bet after you talk to them both, you’ll have a clearer picture of which guy you want to be exchanging gifts with next year. And if neither guy warrants a spot under your Christmas tree, politely break up with them both. You now have the information you need to tell them the truth about why it’s not going to work out.

The lesson here is that the budding relationships with the most promise consist of a nice mix of physical chemistry and shared values and vision. Without that delicate balance, it’s just too hard to sustain in any kind of fulfilling way.

Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. Send your faith-based dating questions to
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