As the old saying goes, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. And that saying goes doubly when it comes to meeting your significant other's parents for the first time.
Meeting the people who created and raised the person you love is never a low-pressure situation. To help you win over your partner's folks, I asked a few dating and relationship experts and some ladies who have seen what works first hand to share their best tips and advice for meeting the parents for the first time.
Here's what they had to say about how to dress, what to bring, topics to avoid, and how to keep your cool. Don't Show Up Empty-Handed Not only should you bring something, you should also do some homework to make sure that your gift of choice will jive with the person you're gifting it to.
Nothing creates an awkward atmosphere faster than presenting a bottle of wine to your girlfriend's recovering alcoholic father. Or if her dad loves sports, get a related magazine subscription. Moms remember that stuff, and if her mom is happy, that means her dad will be happy. So basically you're already winning and all you did was show up with a gift.
Dress To Impress In just about any scenario, it's usually better to be overdressed than underdressed. In this particular situation, that extra effort will most definitely be appreciated. Dressing well shows that you value yourself and respect your company. The first time my now-husband met my parents, he was dressed as if we were going out on a nice date and he brought my mom an orchid.
She whispered, 'Marry that man' to me. Do Your Homework The best way to avoid finding yourself in an awkward conversation with her parents where you accidentally bring up a sore spot is to do your homework in advance, and have an honest conversation with your lady about what not to bring up around her family. Get a feel for their sense of humor, tolerance for slang or vulgar language, other personal sensitivities such as age. Ask your significant other, with the explanation that you want to make the best impression to her parents.
I think it's a common question to ask, but it inevitably starts a whole speech from all of my older in-laws about how my sister's time will come and all of that. If that conversation was going to get started again, I didn't want the new guy I was introducing to my family to be the one to bring it up.
Mind Your Manners It's important to keep in mind that every household operates a little bit differently in terms of what's acceptable and what's considered rude. So make sure you get on the same page with your S.
The first time my boyfriend met my family he picked up on this, and made it a point to make sure my grandma had everything she needed right there in front of her at the table, refilling what she was drinking and serving her food. It actually became a bit of a joke, and he started pretending to be her butler toward the middle of the meal, and he started referring to him as Jeeves! It definitely scored him some major brownie points. Engage In Conversation Don't just sit there like a deer in headlights, waiting for someone at the dinner table to ask you questions.
When you show interest in them as individuals, they have an opportunity to have their own relationships with you, which will make a future relationship more viable.
Parents can be mean and they will absolutely judge you. My best piece of advice would be to get good at making conversation with your significant other's folks right off the bat. Pay Sincere Compliments Parents are excellent bullshit detectors. So if you're going to pay them a compliment and you should , be sure that you're giving one that comes off as sincere — not just an empty compliment for the sake of being polite.
Reinforce something positive that your significant other told you was important to her parents. For example, say she told you that her parents did volunteer work at a local hospital. If that's the case, you could say, 'Your daughter told me about your volunteer work, that must be very satisfying.
It can sound glib and insincere. My mom knows this and even so, every time I'm home visiting she talks for hours about the new additions to her vegetable garden, and how the tomatoes or whatever is in season are doing.
I told this to my boyfriend, and when he first met my mom he complimented her garden, and from there he was in. It definitely pays off to know the sweet spot for what her mom loves to talk about. Especially if the daughter that you are dating doesn't appreciate it whatsoever. While each one of the experts agreed that hanging all over your girlfriend in front of her folks is not the way to go, Burns says that some mild PDA may help your cause.
Always save the PDA for non-parental situations. But he did continue to do things like touch the small of my back when walking through a room together, or help me take off and hang up my coat when we first arrived. At the end of the night, my mother told me that she could tell he really cared about me through those small gestures. So no, I don't think that you have to not touch each other whatsoever.
But if you're the type of couple who typically are always touching, maybe scale it back a bit. Also, it really depends how your parents are! Don't Criticize This tip goes twofold. First off, you may think that it's OK to bond with your girlfriend's parents over her bad habits.
But the early stages of getting to know her parents is just not the right time for this kind of conversation — even if it's in jest. Not even joking or sarcastic. It's not a good look when you first meet them. Hopefully there will be about a million other chances to be funny and complain about how your girlfriend can't boil water, but right now you need to be a ray of sunshine and speak nothing but positives about their little girl.