Getting butterflies in your stomach is natural when you think of meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time. It may be a sign that the relationship is going well. On the other hand, they may simply be coming into town and you know you will be put in contact with each other. In either case, the pressure is on to make a great impression. What to wear, what to say, and how to react to odd questions can all make you want to melt through the floor rather than face the expectations.
At the same time, your significant other is probably experiencing some stress as the most permanent part of his family meets you for the first time. They are experiencing just as many mixed emotions, and there are some simple ways to make sure that everyone can enjoy themselves while still getting to know each other in a lower stress environment.
Wait Till the Right Time for You Both
Many parents want to immediately meet anyone their children are dating, but you should probably hang back until you know that your partner is ready to give it a great effort. It isn’t always a sign of lack of commitment if someone isn’t ready to meet your parents; instead, see it as a sign that they take such a step seriously and don’t want to seem like they are jumping ahead of themselves. When you are both convinced that meeting the parents is the right next step, you’ll both have a better attitude about it.
Have a Heart to Heart with Each Other First
One of the most awkward things that can come out in a meeting with parents is misunderstandings about where the relationship is currently and where it is going. If you want to be engaged and get married soon, and your significant other is just getting used to being an exclusive dating couple, you need to know that so you can be completely in sync for the meeting with the parents. You’ll both feel less stressed and you’ll avoid giving mixed signals to them about how you feel about each other.
If They Are Your Parents, Prep Them Too
If there is any way that you can chat with your parents before having a partner meet them, you can help smooth the interaction for everyone. Especially if there is any strain between you and your parents, this is a great time to clear the air so that the meeting with your beloved isn’t marred by family squabbles.
Be Prepared to Ask Good Questions
If you worry that some aspect of your life might not “impress” the potential in-laws, focus instead on getting them to talk about themselves. Most people appreciate when someone shows interest in them, and asking neutral questions about their hobbies, interests, and favorite things may give you some nice easy ground.
Assume Positive Intent
While there may be parents who are actively hostile toward their children’s significant others, most of the time such hostility is accidental due to stress or inexperience with such encounters. If you stay calm and do your best to answer graciously, you will defuse tense situations and also show your level of maturity, which will impress the parents.
Show Positive Affirmation of Your Significant Other
Right before a meeting with the parents is the worst time to get unhappy with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Instead, try to make sure that you two are rock-solid so that the parents get the best possible view of you two. That way, your affection for their child will help soften them to the idea of someone new in their lives.
Do Your Homework
There is no reason to go into an interaction with the parents without any information on them; you can talk to your significant other about his or her parents and get an idea of some safe and fun topics of conversation. Yes, the first interaction might be a little contrived, but doing your homework for the conversation will pave the way for much more natural and spontaneous conversation later.
Dress to Impress
This doesn’t look the same for every set of parents, so think more about what the parents of your significant other will appreciate than about going as formal as you can. If you are going out for tacos, leave the tuxedo at home, but make sure to wear a tie if they are bringing out the fine linen and china for you.
The main reason why you shouldn’t worry too much about meeting the parents of your significant other is that you are already doing the thing they need to know the most: taking good care of and being kind to their offspring. If you can convey that you care about them deeply and skirt any particular family disagreements, you are well on your way to a healthy and positive relationship with the parents of the person you love.