It’s something that appears off in the distance when a long term relationship starts, but it’s there. You know it, your partner knows it, everyone knows it’s coming. If the situation has any hope for the future, for almost every couple, then the question looms: How do I make a good impression on my partner’s family?
Normal relationships provide their own sometimes difficult scenarios for impressing your loved one’s parents or extended family. But in a long distance relationship, often this scenario has added stressors such as time restraints during your visit and concerns from the parents about the chances of your relationship surviving under the unusual circumstance of long distance. This combination can be lethal to the relationship because one can wind up showing signs of frustration and anxiety to the family and may not have enough time to show a more calm and balanced side before it’s time to cut the visit short. And the family can turn up the pressure and start to place doubt in the head of one of the participants in the relationship, potentially poisoning the union.
I recently survived the experience of spending three days with my fiancée and her mother in her mother’s house. If this isn’t playing a high pressure game in the visitor’s stadium, I don’t know what is. In our four years of dating, this was only the second time I got to meet her mother, and I was sure that an interrogation of my life and everything I’ve ever done was forthcoming. I can happily report that wasn’t the case. My fiancée’s mother was very supportive of our relationship and understanding of our love and how solid it was. It certainly didn’t hurt that we came up with a wedding date during the visit, something she (and everyone else) had been asking us about.
So how do you survive an abbreviated visit with the parents? Remember these steps: Always keep your cool, no matter how trivial or accusatory the questions. They are concerned with the well-being of a loved one, which is understandable to a degree. But if it gets nasty, regardless of how personally offensive their comments may be, no good comes out of firing back at them. Put your best foot forward. Dress nicely, clean up well. Save the obscenity-laced t-shirt for after you leave their presence. Watch your language. And perhaps most importantly, have at least a basic outline for the relationship’s future. You shouldn’t have to provide a written five-year syllabus, but it’s more critical to have a plan in a long distance relationship to present to your lover’s family because it shows that you’re less likely to be a creepy Lothario or flighty serial dater if you can demonstrate some consideration for tomorrow. Similar to a job interview, come prepared, use your words and the brief period of time wisely, and don’t appear panicked, and you should make a great impression on your (potential) future in-laws.