Linsha Qi
June 24, 2015 6:30 am

There are several important turning points in any romantic relationship that signify a deeper connection, the solidification of a foundation, and the permanence of feelings felt towards one another. In other words, these moments fill our stomachs with butterflies, make our mouths feel dry no matter how much water we drink, and make us feel downright giddy. Meeting your S.O.’s parents for the first time is one of these moments, one that should definitely not be underestimated. First impressions don’t last forever, but they do hang around. Here are some foolproof tips for your first meeting with your S.O.’s parents.

Gussy up a little bit

This meeting is no picnic or vacation, but nor is it a blacktie wedding. You’re here to show them that you’re a quality match for their child, that you’re a great partner, and that you have solid judgement. That means something a little more than  sweatpants, a baggy t-shirt, and an old hoodie, but you don’t have to arrive in a tuxedo or ballgown either. Basically, your attire should fall somewhere between “law firm interview” outfit and “dinner with friends” clothing. Putting on a blazer over a nice blouse is never a bad idea. Maybe wear a nice sweater with an accent necklace. Looking nice and presentable never hurt anyone. Brush your teeth, wash your face, comb your hair, all that jazz. Your formally informal clothing will show those parents that you understand the importance of this landmark moment and that you are here to stay.

Get to know their parents as people

Let’s be honest—all our good manners, developed skills, and lovable personality traits are primarily indebted to one source: our parents. Show that you acknowledge this fact when you’re with the ‘rents themselves. They already know you love their kid; that much is obvious from your being there. It’s nice to talk to them a little bit about their own lives, whatever their interests may be. Compliments are rarely bad, particularly if they’re the ones hosting. From the cooking to the décor, make sure to show your potential future in-laws that you notice all the little tweaks they made in preparation for your visit and show them that you appreciate their hard work.

Subtly mention your qualifications 

No one loves dining with someone who can’t stop talking about themselves, but you can totally sneak in a couple impressive facts about yourself while you’re talking. Show them that you are responsible for your future and have made progress towards your goals in life. Casually mention a job you once had at so-and-so company, where you did blah-blah work and you might have a future there. Talk about how you’ve been staying in shape, your favorite sports, and your latest decision to eat healthier. You don’t have to overdo it, but expanding on your passions is better than one or two word answers.

Offer to help

Show that you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty by offering to help with whatever presents itself. Enjoying a meal at their house? Let them know you can bring out food, wash dishes, clean the table. (Bringing a bottle of wine or a bunch of flowers never hurt, either) Out at a restaurant? Call the waiter over when water levels are low or look up intriguing dishes that they have questions about on your phone. Be the person that you would want to be at dinner with.

Don’t under- or overstay your welcome

Imagine this: the lunch is going great, everyone is talking and laughing, and the offer for dessert comes. Everyone is encouraging you guys to stay a little longer and maybe even take a walk together after the meal. As they pass along the dessert menu, you suddenly declare that you need to leave. It sort of ruins the mood, unless there’s some kind of emergency. Use your gut, but don’t prematurely end a meal. On the flip side, don’t overstay your visit either. If your S.O.’s parents keep glancing at the door or their watches and commenting about how they really need to get somewhere or head to bed, take the hint and excuse yourself.

Most importantly, be yourself

Meeting your S.O.’s parents for the first time is no easy task, and we totally understand if you’re nervous. It’s a big deal and certainly worth getting the jitters over. But keep in mind that the most important thing is to just be yourself. They’re just people, and they probably had a hand in shaping the person that you care about so much. Your partner has deemed you worthy of meeting his/her parents, and that’s a testament in itself to how great of a person you are. Relax, enjoy yourself, and don’t think you have to be someone you’re not.  Good luck!

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[Image via Meet the Parents]

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