So the time has come for you to meet your special someone’s parents. It’s a big dating milestone – a chance to find out more about where your guy or girl comes from and what makes them who they are. But whilst it’s an important occasion, there’s no need to be intimidated. Follow these top tips and you’ll get along like a house on fire.
1. Let them get to know you
The chances are your boyfriend or girlfriend has already been talking you up to their parents and they’ll be keen to get to know you themselves, so let them. Relax and have a chat – about your job, your interests, your family and friends – and help them see why their son or daughter you’re dating thinks so much of you. Of course, nobody wants to feel like they’re droning on and on about themselves, but remember, if they’re asking you questions, it’s because they want to hear the answers.
2. Get to know them too
A lot of the same rules you applied to dating also apply to meeting the parents. Obviously your motivations are a little different and you can leave your flirting techniques at home, but everything you brought to the table when it comes to good conversation, and being an interesting and interested person, is totally relevant.
So as well as being open to having a chat about who you are, make sure you ask questions too. Don’t probe too closely of course, but get to know who they are as people and what you have in common. Just like any rapport, the trick is to remember the details people share with you, as nothing shows how committed you are to establishing a good relationship like paying real attention.
The chances are that their parents are a huge part of your partner’s life so it’ll mean the world to them that you get on well. And if things remain serious between you, you could end up knowing them for years and years to come, so it’ll be important for all of you that your relationship is good from the get-go.
3. Go easy on the public displays of affection
Your date’s mum and dad will no doubt be delighted that their offspring is in a relationship with somebody who thinks they’re the bee’s knees. And feel free to tell them that – who wouldn’t want to hear somebody talk about how wonderful their child is? But just go easy with the physical displays of affection – many parents find overt intimacy discomforting.
4. Manners are everything
It goes without saying but when you’re meeting the parents, it’s even more essential that you present your very best self.
You might find yourself going to your other half’s parents’ house or being taken out for dinner, so it’s time to be the best guest you can be. Everybody wants to get along and to like each other, and a healthy dose of politeness will go a long way to helping make that happen. Just as if you were dating, put your phone away, bring out your best chat, and enjoy yourself.
5. Don’t let your nerves get the better of you
Just like when you’re dating, it can be easy when you’re nervous to panic and feel you need to become someone you’re not. You might think you suddenly have to become a comedian or over talk about your credentials, or to go completely silent in case you say something silly. But don’t worry – all anybody wants is to meet the real you.
We’ve all done it – felt a little insecure and turned to our other half and started poking fun at them to take the focus off ourselves. It’s not a good tactic at the best of times, but in front of their parents it’s particularly ill-advised. A little light mockery between you is fine, but never forget whose side you’re on.
6. Have a quick check-in beforehand
It never hurts to have a quick briefing with your other half before you meet their parents to clarify two things:
a) Is there anything you should know about their parents before you meet?
Everybody has their quirks, likes and dislikes, and unique character traits, and sometimes it helps to know about them in advance. If there are particular sensitivities, or conversation points it would be good to follow or avoid, your other half can let you know, to help make your first meeting go as well as possible.
b) Is there anything you shouldn’t mention?
People have all different kinds of relationships with their parents – some tell them everything, and some share a much more carefully edited story – so it makes sense to know what you’re walking into to avoid putting your foot in it.
For example, do their parents know that you’re considering changing career/moving country/taking up skydiving? Would they respond well to mentions of the fact that your date had a little bit too much to drink on the first date/just bought a car/stay over at your house?
If there are any no-go areas, now’s the time to point them out. You might have nothing to worry about at all, but it never hurts to compare notes with your date before you head out just in case.