Remember high school, when meeting the parents was no big deal? All you had to do was roll up and say, "Hi, Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So! Nice to meet you! I'll be over here studying and definitely not making out with your son in his bedroom!" Ah, those were the days... But, like everything else in life, the question, "When should you meet each other's parents?" becomes increasingly complicated with age.
Introducing your partner to your parents, and vice versa, is no longer as simple as a quick hand wave before a "study" session. As an adult (or whatever it is that we are?), it requires travel, skirting questions about why you were single — or when you plan on getting married — and figuring out how to cram your life story into an elevator speech that says, "I'm a winner and you're lucky to have me in your life now, but don't worry, I totally understand that your child is a catch, and I will treat them like gold."
Honestly, I don't know how the Bachelor/Bachelorette does it four times in a row during hometown dates.
So, how soon is too soon? Is there some surefire sign that says now is the time?
"There isn’t a steadfast rule about how long you should wait to meet the parents," says relationship counselor and dating coach Samantha Burns. "It’s unique to the speed at which the relationship is developing, how strongly you feel towards your partner, and how close you are with your parents."
I turned to a handful of guys and girls to find out when they knew it was time, and Burns was right: Everyone's got a unique way of knowing if and when to introduce their partner to their parents. Some have set rules, others have cute stories, and a few have no real idea. But if you're wondering whether you and your partner are ready to take that next step and meet each other's parents, here are seven ways that people knew they should take the plunge.
He took care of her when she felt sick.
The first time my boyfriend took care of me when I was dying from period cramps. He pet my head and kept refilling my hot water bottle, and I just knew I was falling for him and wanted my family to meet this guy.
— Elizabeth, 25
The relationship survived a fight.
I'd been seeing this guy for a few weeks, and after we both went out on dates with other people (and both got upset that we weren't exclusive), we decided to make things official. It wasn't the *most* mature situation, but after that, I knew it was time to introduce him to my family. After you have your first fight and get through it, I think you're ready.
They became official first.
My boyfriend and I have been together since high school, so pretty much the second he asked me to be his girlfriend, it was time.
— Francis, 23
He said he wanted to marry her.
My fiancé's very old-school, and after several dates, he told me he really liked me and basically said he wanted to pursue me for marriage. Pretty soon after that, I suggested a spring break road trip to visit my dad in the mountains!
— Carol, 24
Everyone was asking to meet each other.
I didn't want to introduce my boyfriend to anyone because he has a very dry sense of humor (people think he's awful). But he wanted to meet my family, and they wanted to meet him, so I was basically pressured from all sides and finally introduced everyone. And it went well! They really liked him.
— Tori, 23
He had nowhere to go on Thanksgiving.
My boyfriend met my extended family at Thanksgiving two weeks after he met me. He didn't have Thanksgiving plans, so I told him he could join us, but I would understand if that was too much too soon. He came, charmed everyone's pants off, and we're still going strong (one year in two weeks!).
It felt right.
I didn't wait long at all with my current girlfriend. It felt right so why not?
Play it by ear and go at your own pace, but if you feel like it's time? Well, it probably is.
*Names have been changed. Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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