Let's get this out of the way up front: If your partner's family doesn't like you, that doesn't mean the relationship is doomed. You're dating your significant other — not their family. Ultimately, the only relationship that matters is the one that you and bae have with each other. The rest is just gravy.
But ideally, life would be a lot better if the people who raised your partner happened to adore you, too. And who doesn't like being liked? Whether you're a pathological people-pleaser or you're just trying to get through your partner's birthday dinner without a serving of side-eye, there are ways to work your way into your potential future in-laws' hearts.
If your initial meeting isn't going too hot, there are ways to course-correct along the way, experts tell Elite Daily. And if you've been on rocky footing with your partner's family for awhile now, it's still possible to salvage those relationships and clear the air with a respectful conversation.
Getting along with your partner's family isn't always easy, and to be honest, it's not entirely in your control. But there are a few expert-approved ways to put your best foot forward around them — and hopefully, anyone worth getting along with will see that you're making a sincere effort.
1. Bring A Housewarming Gift
Is it kind of manipulative to butter up your host with a present? Yep! Should you do it anyway? Absolutely. It's polite.
Consider bringing food, flowers, something meaningful about your partner's life that their parents might not have access to (like a framed photo of them playing a local open mic night gig), or — if you're traveling from far away — a specialty item from where you live.
"When in doubt about a gift, ask your partner," says licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson. "If your future mother-in-law has Type II diabetes, showing up with candy might not be well-received."
Along those lines: don't bring a bottle of wine for the family member in AA and don't bake a cake for the family member who's gluten-free.
2. Don't Treat Their House Like A Hotel
Don't kick up your feet on the couch. Offer to set the table for dinner. Do the dishes without making it into a whole big ~thing~. "That shows them that you’re not just here for a good time — hopefully you’re here for a long time," Richardson says.
And that goes double if tensions rose over the course of your first dinner together. Nobody can stay mad at the person who cleans up afterward.
3. Highlight The Things You Have In Common
If you get the sense that your partner's family isn't exactly accepting you with open arms because of a specific issue — like not sharing their political views or religious beliefs — your best bet is to focus on what you have in common.
For starters: You clearly both love your partner. Ask what they were like a child, tell funny stories of your own, and take up the offer to see the family photo album with full enthusiasm.
"People are generally more similar than we are different," Richardson says. "If acceptance is your goal, put in the work to figure out what you have in common."
Do you and your partner's mom both love to cook? Ask where she learned to make that incredible pasta dish. Do you and your partner's dad both follow college basketball? Strike up a conversation about the latest game. And when the conversation fizzles out, you can always turn the subject back to the one person you're all there for.
4. Don't Take Their Actions Personally
If you're on your best behavior and you're still iced out of a family dinner, the situation is beyond your control. You've done your best; you can't force someone into liking you, so now it's time to sit back and let it go. "It's so hard to not take it personally, but don't get sucked into the drama if you can't control it," says Anita Chlipala, founder of Chicago-based relationship therapy firm Relationship Reality 312. Or as Taylor Swift puts it...
You got this, girl.
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