These days, meeting the parents doesn’t quite transpire the way it did in say the 1950s. Families are no longer defined as a mother, father, and two kids. There are single parent families, same sex parent families, grandparents acting as parents, adoptive parents, and step families, just to name a few.
It is important that you prepare yourself with some Dos and Don’ts before crossing the threshold into family territory with your current girlfriend.
Hopefully you’ve been dating long enough for her to give you the rundown on the family dynamic.
Who were the important figures in her childhood? Who does she have a close relationship with? It’s important to know whom your girlfriend is closest to, so you can win them over. This is whose opinion she most respects, and will immediately look to for approval. If this individual gets a bad vibe from you, it could be time to pack your bags and hit the fish pond all over again.
Are there any moments in the family history you need to know about? Perhaps a relative is in rehab, a family member died, or someone once ran for Governor of Colorado. These are important to know about so you can speak to them, or avoid speaking about them, depending on the situation.
Does anyone in the ‘circle of trust’ have physical limitations or idiosyncrasies that you should be aware of? This will help you to avoid making jokes about turret’s or mental retardation that could be poorly received.
Depending on the family, it might feel like you are being investigated by the CIA. This isn’t normal per se, but be cognizant of the fact that they’re trying to get a handle on what kind of person you are. Their primary concern is ensuring you make your girlfriend happy and that you pose no eminent threat to her. These days, this goes far beyond merely the threat of physical violence.
Are you financially stable or does it seem as if you will use her for money and possibly run away with all of hers?
Be sure to mention your job, career aspirations, and things you might’ve saved for.
Do you appear to be mentally competent or do you exhibit signs of a sociopath?
Perhaps it’s best to forgo that maniacal laugh you release when you are nervous.
Do you come across as possessive and/or jealous?
If conversations of ex-boyfriends come up, brush them off. Don’t get defensive. If there are semi-recent photos up of your girlfriend and her ex, address it with her later, not in front of everyone.
Do you sound as if you are serious about a commitment to your girlfriend or are you just in this relationship to pass the time?
Bring up events you have planned together and be sure to say you look forward to seeing the family again soon.
Be a Gentleman
This goes without saying, and doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to be pulling out chairs and opening doors (although that is a nice gesture) for your girlfriend. It does mean that you will use please and thank you when dining with the family, willat least offer to help with setup, cleanup, or perhaps even taking out the trash after a meal/party. As another example, you should ask if anyone would like anything such as a beverage, if you are getting up. Be sure to say thank you to your host(s) and that it was a pleasure to meet everyone.
Although it is expected that you will be nervous meeting the family for the first time, it’s important that you remain true to yourself and your character. People, especially those observing you carefully, will be able to detect if you are faking it or being insincere, without ever having met you previously. They’ll also be able to tell that you’re trying too hard.
After reading the aforementioned suggestions, it might seem comical to suggest being yourself, but it really is the most important advice of all.
Lastly, do her a solid and run through the same topics with her before she meets your family. It’ll make the experience slightly less stressful, and help to potentially avoid awkward moments.
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