I have had good and bad experiences with meeting boyfriends’ parents. This is the hardest part of being in an exclusive relationship. A first impression will make or break the relationship for the long term. If parents don’t like you, expect a breakup a few months later. Your boyfriend might not give you any hints as to what his parents prefer. He will say, “don’t worry, they will love you.”….not helpful. Here are the dos and don’ts of meeting the fam.
Don’t overstay your welcome…..
My boyfriend moved back into his mom’s house after college. We lived 2-1/2 hours apart and I stayed at his mom’s house WAY too long. She built up a resentment and I don’t blame her! If you are visiting his family overnight or longer, get a hotel or AirBNB. Obviously, if it’s for the holidays and she insists you stay in the guest room, then do that.
You actually have to talk to them…..
When I am in new social situations it’s really hard for me to open up. It may be exhausting that you have to act like a game show host. Yet, it’s way better than his mom saying, “Oh, I didn’t really get to know her.” Ask questions and stay engaged.
Attitude is everything…..
Positivity is the way to go in every social setting. No resting-bitch face; smile until your face hurts. Make sure to talk up your strengths with a modest edge. Hopefully, your boyfriend will set you up to succeed. DO NOT bring up sad or negative topics. Get off your soap box for one evening. Now is not the time to say, “meat is murder,” to his mom.
You have to remember that you are a civilized human. Put your napkin in your lap, say please and thank you.
Bring a gift…..
If you are invited for dinner at their home, bring a gift (drinkers =wine, non-drinkers = homemade cookies ). For the holidays, get every detail about what gifts to buy, what extra food to bring, and what the experience as a whole will be. Every family has different traditions and what they view as important. Do not let your boyfriend set you up to fail. Really press him on what you should do or bring. This includes everything from what time to wake up in the morning to warning you about his sister’s seafood allergy.
Dress like it’s a job interview….
Low cut shirts, open-toed shoes, etc, should stay in the closet.
His family should pay for dinner, but be prepared if they don’t….
You might meet his parents at a restaurant. Don’t assume they will pick up the check. It’s best to order something that is in the middle-price range. Not the side salad, but not the $30 steak.
Ok, so if you need liquid courage, do it. It’s hard to make small talk and it’s a lot of pressure to try to impress someone. This applies to meeting for the first time in a restaurant or their home for dinner. Keep it to two drinks max. If alcohol does not relax you, then do a ten-minute meditation, or take a long walk.
Go easy on the booze….
In that same token, don’t go overboard with alcohol. Some families are more chill about drinking. You might get offered wine or beer. Don’t use this opportunity as an open bar. Take a slower pace than everyone else. If you are at a restaurant and no one orders alcohol, follow the flow of the room and abstain.
Don’t smell like an ashtray…
Be shower fresh. Don’t smell like a campfire or that you hung out in Willie Nelson’s tour bus. Pop a mint in your mouth.
Don’t get political….
DO NOT talk politics. Avoid the topic or change the subject. If they ask you point blank what you think say, “Oh, I am sure you know more than I do.” And leave it at that.
In the future….
If you happen to run into one of his family members at a grocery store, gas station, or event, always say hello. I had poor social skills and as an introvert the last thing I wanted to do was to say hi to someone in public. It is crucial that you say hello! If his mom or relative wants a reason to hate you, don’t let them! Be friendly and bubbly.
First impressions matter! You only get one shot at this. His family will decide if they like you based on how well the first meeting went. If you drop the ball, there is no coming back from it. The important thing is to be talkative and be genuinely interested. Go with the vibe of the room. If the family is more relaxed, you can ease up a bit, yet you still need to be on the conservative side. Act like it’s a work function. Dress modestly and don’t guzzle down booze. It may not be a fun experience and you may have to grin and bear it, but hopefully, his family will be fun and relaxed people. Once the first meeting goes well, it’s smooth sailing from there.