First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage — right? If this childhood rhyme sounds familiar to you, I hope you, too, are wondering why marriage and babies were imposed on us as kids (my guess: the patriarchy). When it comes to all of the things that come before marriage, things are a bit more confusing. When introducing a new partner, is it first comes friends, then comes family, then comes extended family in anticipation of marriage? It's tough to know when to introduce your partner to extended family, because it's a big deal.
You don't want to get Grandma all excited about Jimmy after three months, only to find out about his cheating ways a few weeks later, leaving Grandma very confused as to why Jimmy isn't in the picture anymore, right? Even if Jimmy doesn't turn out to be a massive cheater, you don't want to overwhelm him by introducing him to all 17 of your cousins before you've even gone on a weekend trip together.
That said, sometimes you or your partner's extended family might be very local and regularly in the picture. Or you might want to bring your partner to a family wedding after a few months of dating. Relationships are snowflakes! Each one is different. Elite Daily spoke to dating expert Meredith Golden of SpoonmeetSpoon about the guidelines for when to introduce your partner to your extended family. Here's what she had to say.
Make Sure You're Ready To Make This Big Step
Introducing a partner to your extended family is big potatoes. It's totally normal to feel some nerves about making the introduction, but you can also trust your gut if you're definitely not ready to insert your partner into all of the parts of your life as well. "Meeting someone’s family is a big step in a relationship," confirms Golden. "If you’re unsure about your future, keep extended family away until you’re more certain."
Families tend to get overly excited about meeting significant others, and may even be irritated if your relationship doesn't last, so make the decision carefully, says Golden. "If there’s serious drama in your family, that's another reason to wait as long as possible," she adds. "With that said, it’s perfectly OK to spend as much time as you want with their family, if desired. Family can be great but they can also complicate things."
Think About Your Future Together
Is it possible that this could end up just being a fling, or have you already talked about your future together? "One sign your relationship is solid enough to make an intro to your family is if you’ve already met their family," adds Golden. "It’s probably time to reciprocate." If both you and your partner are on the same page about a very serious future, it's probably an OK time to introduce each other to the extended relative set.
"Another sign is if you know all the players names and almost everything about them and their quirky dynamics," explains Golden. "If you already know ALL about Aunt Helen without having ever met her, it's time." I think this is a great test, because while most of us start talking about our immediate family members on the first or second date, I usually don't talk about my wild uncles until way down the line. If you can name all of each other's extended family members, you're good to make the introduction.
Don't Hold Yourself To A Rigid Timeline
I was pleased to hear Golden echo my earlier sentiment that "every relationship is unique, [so] if it feels right, go for it!" I'm a big believer in trusting your intuition when it comes to relationships, and I agree that you should ask yourself what feels right first. Additionally, "If you're past due to meet your partner’s family, perhaps a conversation is necessary to better understand why the introductions haven’t been made," says Golden.
At the end of the day, everyone's family has a very different dynamic. As we grow up and become adults, familial relationships can become incredibly difficult, or, they can get easier. Above all, make sure to take care of yourself and your partner when making the decision about when to introduce them to your family. It's easy to get caught up in worrying about showing off a new partner to your older cousin who tells you that you are single because, "you're too picky," but it's more important to take care of your closest relationships. You'll know the time is right.
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