The last time I introduced a guy to my parents, it was my 30th birthday. I didn't even want to do this (meeting the parents is a huge deal for me), but he insisted, so I figured, why not take the next stage in our relationship if he was so interested in it? Well, a family birthday dinner means meeting my mom, my dad, and my two very overprotective older brothers — all of whom exist pretty much without boundaries and love using swear words quite liberally. And then, there was my incredibly conservative boyfriend. How was this gonna work? And was there a way to prepare your parents to meet your partner so that it's not a complete nightmare?
My oldest brother grilled my boyfriend about his past relationships, while my dad essentially implied that my boyfriend had to marry me one day. I got so stressed out and overwhelmed that I got a bloody nose at the table. It reminded my mother that I got tons of bloody noses as a child, which detoured into a roundtable of everyone sharing embarrassing stories about me growing up. Needless to say, it was not an ideal first meeting, yet my wonderful boyfriend at the time put up with everyone anyway. But it led me to wonder, has anyone ever had a flawless first introduction of their significant other to their family? Like, is there a way to do this well?
I asked April Masini, relationship expert of Relationship Advice Forum, how to prepare your parents to meet your new partner so things go as smoothly as possible.
1. Try To Avoid Meeting During High-Stress Situations
Everyone's time is valuable. Make sure that you acknowledge that when making plans to introduce your parents to your partner. Additionally, try to avoid high-stress situations for first meetings — like birthday dinners, for example. (Woops, my bad.)
"If you’re introducing your partner to your parents during a stressful time, reconsider the calendar," says Masini. "When your mother, who isn’t really a cook, has taken on dinner for twelve at home, and she’s known for outbursts under kitchen duress, don’t bring your partner home on this day, at this time. Instead, choose a restaurant during a quiet time in your parents’ lives, if possible. Your choice of setting and time will influence the meeting."
If your partner has had a long and difficult week at work, it might not be the best timing to introduce them to your folks. And if your parents just got back from a vacation or are in the middle of moving or something, it might not be the best time for them either. Remember, your mood is usually greatly affected by how your day is going, so try to make plans accordingly.
2. Don't Make The Meeting A Surprise To Anyone
"Don’t surprise your parents. Don’t surprise your partner. To do so is a power play," Masini says. "Instead, deal with any jitters or anxiety, or other feelings ahead of time. And, if your parents [aren't] ready to meet your partner, or if your partner isn’t ready to meet your parents, respect their feelings and take a cue as to the status of the relationship."
Meeting the parents should be a step that comes naturally for your parents, your partner, and you. Don't force it, or else, nobody will have fun, enjoy themselves, or enjoy each other.
3. Ease Up On Drinking When You Meet
Hey, make sure no one blacks out when you're introducing your parents to your partner!! This should be common sense, right?
"It’s super simple for people to overdo it on the cocktails when they’re nervous, and if you want the meeting to be meaningful, try to have this first get-together where there is not going to be an opportunity for getting drunk, if your parents or your partner (or you) have a tendency toward drinking away anxiety," Masini says.
I know that my family can be prone to heavy drinking, which can lead to some inappropriateness that strangers, like a new partner, might not be ready to handle. It's best to avoid this kind of environment until people are comfortable with one another and have met several times.
"Brunch is perfect. Tea and cake in the late afternoon is perfect," Masini continues. "And for some people a bar is great, but if there’s even a sliver of a doubt about this type of issue, steer toward non-alcoholic get-togethers."
4. Give Your Parents All The Info They Need Before They Meet Your Partner
Especially if you live together, for example. "This isn’t something everyone reacts well to, and if you haven’t told them, there’s probably a reason along these lines," says Masini. "Don’t surprise your parents with news about your living together or having been dating for five years and having kept it a secret, in front of your partner. Tell them this type of information ahead of time and let the meeting be just about connecting with this person."
The last thing you want to do is drop a bombshell on your family when everyone expects they're in for a light and airy first meeting. Oh, and a first introduction probably isn't a great place to reveal a pregnancy either.
Introducing your partner to your parents is an exciting step in every relationship. Don't stress out too much about it. If you follow these steps, it'll go great.
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