As you become more serious in a relationship at some point you’re probably going to meet your mate’s parents. Sometimes an introduction comes early in the relationship, but it is common for it to come later. Especially if one or both partners want to wait until feeling confident the relationship is serious and not make decisions based on the high level of excitement that tends to happen early in a relationship.
Many people prefer to wait until the post-butterflies stage before letting family have an introduction to their relationships.
Meeting the parents also often means a relationship has reached a level of trust and commitment and a loved one is ready to include you in his family life. Some people view meeting the parents as an important milestone in the relationship.
No matter when this important introduction occurs, it can be a pretty stressful event for some people. If you feel you are full of anxiety when faced with the thought of meeting your loved one's parents, you are not alone. Many people worry because they want to make a good first impression.
People generally possess a need to be accepted and welcomed as a potential member of the family or, at the very least, a recognized important part of their loved one's life. This often comes from the acceptance of a significant other's parents through an endorsement, or at least some level of embracing of the relationship.
Getting set to meet your mate's parents? Are you scared to death? Here are some tips:
Ask Your Partner Lots of Questions
This is an important preface to meeting the parents. Since you don't know what type of personalities you'll be meeting, it might prove helpful to try to get to know the parents through your significant other. Ask lots of questions. You might want to try to cover topics and learn what their political, religious or general views are because you don't want to be blindsided by potential thorny questions you aren't prepared to answer. Especially if their views do not align with your own, this could easily put a downer on the meeting if answers go awry. This doesn't mean you have to agree with their viewpoints, but you can be prepared to have carefully constructed answers so not to cause immediate conflict. (Besides, there is always time for that later!)
In addition to finding out your mate's parents' views on life, it's also a good idea to ask about their interests, hobbies or other likes. This way you can easily find a common ground for conversation and perhaps even bring them a small gift or token they'd like.
Arrive on Time
If you are arriving without your significant other, it's a good idea to make a concentrated effort to arrive on time. Lateness may reflect badly on your appearance and give a poor first impression. And, as in other aspects of life, first impressions are important since most people quickly make up their mind about someone in the first few minutes of an initial introduction.
If the relationship is serious, you could become a part of this family someday. By taking care of courtesies such as arriving on time you can start the first meeting off on a good foot. Also can't hurt to bring something along with you - flowers, dessert, chocolates or a bottle of wine.
That first greeting sets the tone of the meeting, make that first impression count.
Being on your best behavior is critical. Since you may be nervous, this may make you more vulnerable to mistakes. It helps to make a concentrated effort to remember respect and good manners when meeting parents of your mate. Also ask your partner what type of attire you should wear – just in case. It might be very casual, but if it’s a dinner or other event, it might be more formal.
If you want to make a good first impression, try and make a strong attempt to be interested in the conversation. Even if the discussion is about something you don't know much about, ask questions and show interest. You might learn something that you didn’t know you were interested in.
Ideally, you'll want to steer clear of controversial topics or discussions that can get explosive. Try to avoid the aforementioned “sensitive” or “hot” topics if you know you are polar opposite in your beliefs and/or feelings. You do not want to get conversation heated or too heavy on the first introduction.
More neutral topics are best, but sometimes this is unavoidable if one or both parents are intent on getting your views to see how you respond to difficult topics. Another good reason to consider asking all sorts of questions of your partner before introductions are made.
Watch Your Alcohol Intake
If you're of legal age to drink, be careful how much you consume during the get-together. While a drink or two is being sociable, if you don't carry alcohol well, as you probably already know, this can result in disaster. On the same token, if you are able to handle a lot of alcohol, meeting the parents of your significant other is not the best time to showcase this talent.
Even if everyone else at the family gathering is drinking, probably best to go light on the alcohol, just to be on the safe side.
If the gathering is a dinner, offer to help out by clearing the table or doing the dishes - that never hurts. 1
Meeting a partner’s parents for the first time is typically a big event for most people. While there is bound to be some stress and anxiety involved, by being a little proactive you can reduce or eliminate any potentially difficult or embarrassing situations. If you're serious about him or her, not getting into conflict and being alienated from his or her family from the get-go is probably best.