Nikki Grey
March 10, 2016 12:39 pm
Universal

Meeting your partner’s parents is a really, really big deal. Generally, it means your relationship has become serious enough that your partner wants you to meet the important people in their life. This is super exciting! But also, it’s pretty terrifying. You want them to like you. You want them to approve of the relationship — or at least not oppose it. That’s a lot of pressure for one meeting! But fear not, there are ways to prepare that will ease some of your anxiety beforehand and will make the meeting itself go more smoothly.

(Note: All families are different, so “meeting the parents” could mean meeting the grandparents or anyone else who fills that role in your partner’s world.)

1. Talk to your partner about their family beforehand.

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Your significant other can help prepare you before the get-together happens. They can tell you what their parents do for work, give you insight into some potentially good conversation topics, and share some family inside jokes so you’re in on the lingo. Make sure your partner understands you want their help controlling the conversation if things gets awkward.

They should also give you an idea of the kind of relationship they have with their family, because that will affect how they interact — and in turn, how you interact with them. Also, make sure to find out if there is anything you shouldn’t talk about. This could include information your partner doesn’t want the parents to know, topics of strife within the family that might not be immediately obvious to you, or any other topics that could lead to discomfort. For example, if one of them just got laid off, it would be helpful to avoid asking about how their job is going.

2. Dress appropriately.

You don’t have to dress like you’re going to a job interview, but in most instances, on a first meeting it’s safer to dress to impress. As long as you don’t look like you’re headed to a club that night, you’ll probably do just fine. Keep in mind the location of the meeting. If it’s a fancy restaurant, you’re going to want to dress up. If it’s a barbecue at their house, be casual. When in doubt, ask your significant other what kind of attire they think their family will be wearing. Bring a nice sweater or jacket, just in case you underestimated how conservative or fancy everyone else will be.

3. Be respectful.

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Even if you’re normally late for everything, this is the one thing you should be on time for. When you arrive, chances are your partner is going to do some of the legwork by getting the conversation going. Listen to what your partner and his people are talking about, even if it’s hard for you because you are nervous. Try to steer clear of heated topics such as politics or religion, and if they say something that bothers you, try to give them the benefit of the doubt without reacting too quickly.

Since this is a first meeting, be careful not to get too personal with the information you divulge or ask about. If they bring up anything you aren’t comfortable talking about, try to dodge the topic or change the subject as smoothly as you can. (Again, talk to your significant other before, because they can help you out here.)

4. Don’t get drunk.

This may seem like a silly thing to have to say, but some of us tend to drink more if we are nervous. My advice is, even if the parents are getting hammered, you should still avoid doing the same. You’ll be in better control of yourself — it’s hard enough trying to make a good first impression when you’re anxious! — and you won’t regret it. Plus, there will be time to let loose with them at a later date, when you know them better and are more comfortable.

5. Be yourself.

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Although it’s helpful to do everything you can to put your best foot forward, it’s also important to be yourself when meeting your significant other’s parents or family for the first time. Your partner is into you for a reason, and you want their family to like you. For that to happen, you need to be yourself.

It may be difficult, but try to relax. Show them who you are by talking about what interests you. Since they will probably be looking to see if you two are a good match, this may help put everyone at ease. Try to get to know them, as well. Keep in mind your significant other will be hoping you all get along.

Try to remember, it’s not all on you to impress them. It takes time to get to know people. Even if you do all of these things, you can’t control the outcome. Some people have strange or overbearing parents, and that’s not your problem to solve. All you can do is try your best to make a good impression — and then let it go. No matter what happens, your partner is smitten with you for a reason, and any parent should be happy you are dating their kid.

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