Last night on The Bachelorette, my best friend whom I have never met, Rachel Lindsay, absolutely nailed it during the hometown dates, despite some incredibly awkward situations.
She managed to have fun with Eric's family and really bring them together, even though they had been through a series of trials and tribulations throughout his upbringing. She somehow wooed Bryan's extremely protective mom.
She also did her best to diffuse an incredibly stressful and heartbreaking situation, as Dean's estranged family came together for the first time in eight years.
Rachel appeared to be a pro at meeting the parents. She was warm and engaging with all of the families. She brought a gift each time she showed up to a home. She asked the important questions, but didn't overstep her boundaries. She also had amazing "meet the parents" outfits.
Meeting the family is an incredibly important step in a relationship — one you should approach very carefully. So how are you supposed to do it successfully?
Well, I've got you covered. If you're meeting your partner's parents soon, here are some tips.
1. Bring A Gift
When you're meeting the parents, it's always appropriate to bring a present.
Does it have to be fine china, a new outdoor furniture set, a racehorse, or a Ferrari? Absolutely not.
But when you come over to someone's house, you don't want to come empty handed. Bring a bottle of wine, or even a nice bouquet of flowers. If you know something specific about the family (the mom collects candles or the dad loves BBQ sauce), bring your partner's parents something unique that you know they would love.
A present shows that you care, you're grateful you're being invited into their home, and you put some deliberate thought and effort into the first meeting.
They'll love you for it before you even walk through the door.
2. Dress Appropriately
Meeting the parents for the first time is not the best place to wear a crop top and jean shorts.
Hey, I'm all about body positivity and wearing whatever you feel comfortable in. But when you're meeting your potential future in-laws, you've got to dress the part. And the part says mature, appropriate person whose butt cheeks you can't see.
So when you're meeting your partner's parents, dress like it's a job interview or a holiday. You don't have to wear a power suit or a ballgown, but conservative-ish is best. For example, try jeans and a blouse, a cute dress, or a skirt and a sweater, all paired off with some statement jewelry.
Remember, you can only make a first impression once.
3. Offer To Do The Dishes
My college boyfriend helped my mom do the dishes after eating the first time he came over for dinner, and my mom still talks about him to this day.
We've literally been broken up for, like, 10 years now, but it made that good of a first impression.
When you meet the parents for the first time, offer to be helpful around the house. Most likely, you'll just be told to sit down and relax. But showing that you want to be of service is a great indicator of the type of person you are and, most likely, the kind of girlfriend you are.
Your partner's parents will take note of that, and it will make them like you even more.
4. Engage In Conversation
Being completely silent is suspicious and will create a lot of awkward tension. But talking too much can make you seem nervous.
Am I freaking you out? Don't be. There's a happy medium.
Let your partner's family set the tone for the conversation. Are they more serious? Funny? Reserved? Feel it out and join in accordingly.
Talk about how great their son is, and ask a few questions about what he was like as a child. You can even tell his family about how you met or share stories about fun vacations you might have taken together.
Keep the conversation light and easy.
5. Don't Get Wasted
This should be obvious, right?
It's always best not to drink before you meet your partner's parents. You don't want to show up reeking of booze — not a good look.
Additionally, during dinner, lunch, or whatever you're doing with them, limit yourself to one or two glasses of wine if you're drinking at all. Shots are a definite no-go.
While you might be tempted to over-drink to lessen your anxiety, getting drunk the first time you meet your SO's parents is not the best way to go. It won't make them take you seriously, and it can set you up for disaster.
6. Don't Engage In Obnoxious PDA
Whatever you do, don't play tonsil hockey in front of your partner's mom and dad.
One of my brother's girlfriends was once constantly making out with him in front of the family, and I remember it making me hate her. Save it for the bedroom! You're grossing everyone out!
When you're meeting your partner's parents for the first time, keep it PG. A few pecks and some light cuddling are fine, just to indicate to his family that you are indeed interested in one another and have chemistry.
But heavy petting in front of the parents can sometimes seem disrespectful. Don't do it.
To summarize, when it's time to meet the parents, remember: Don't drink so much you blackout, don't show up in booty shorts, and definitely don't try to hook up with your future father-in-law.
Instead, engage in conversation, be helpful, bring a gift, and indicate what kind of family member you could potentially be.