It’s getting to be the holiday season, which is loved by some and dreaded by others for the same reason: family. Family is an especially daunting prospect for those in fledgling relationships -- when are you going to meet his parents? When is he going to meet your parents? Whatever’s to come, we really, really, want to avoid a whole Meet the Parents situation. Not that your Dad’s as scary as Robert De Niro, but still. Here are some tips for bringing your boyfriend home for the first time.
1. Make sure you’re both ready. Just like big decisions like moving in together or getting married, it’s important you are ready to take this step together. Like all other aspects of a growing relationship, communication is the key.
2. Ease him in. Consider introducing him to your siblings first (if you have any). They might be able to help him feel more supported when he meets your parents. Depending on your relationship with them, you might even want him to meet your mother first, since she might be more inclined to like him than your father. Basically, it will help him to feel like he has all the allies he can get before meeting the Big Cheese (AKA your Dad).
3. It's all about baby steps. What can your boyfriend handle? Especially if he’s the shy, reserved type, he may not want to meet your entire extended family at the same time. Make things more manageable for him by choosing a situation you’re both comfortable with. It might be easiest for the two of you to meet on home turf. No, not necessarily your home, but somewhere familiar, such as a favorite restaurant. That will help keep things from getting overwhelming.
4. Give him a cheat sheet. Okay, so you don’t actually need to make your boyfriend a cheat sheet, but you should prime him on your parents likes and dislikes to avoid any awkward rifts. Are your parents born-again Christians? He might not want to bring up his pro-gay marriage views (yet). Do they love NCIS? He might not want to joke about how only old people watch that show (ever). Just make sure he’s on the same page as much as possible. You don’t want to send him to the front lines without at least some artillery. Maybe that’s not the best analogy for the situation…just help him make the best first impression possible.
5. Have his back. Remember, this will likely be a somewhat frightening experience for him (if you’ve met his parents already, you know the feeling). Be as supportive as possible. If your parents are on the offense, try to guide the conversation to safer waters. Just make sure you’re alert and sensitive to the situation at hand.
Slacker when he met his wife’s parents it was in Brazil. He was jet lagged and so they wanted to nap. Her parents gave up their bed. The next morning at breakfast was a bit awkward. Slacker met his ex’s parents in a tiny town in California and walking in he had to protect himself because flying across the room was a can of beer. They took him to the bar at the Elk’s Club. He went outside in the back yard to get some air and there were three older relatives sitting around passing around a pair of needle nose pliers with a joint! Talk about awkward Slacker doesn’t do drugs at all and was not expecting that. There is tons of advice out there for men and not really for women. When you walk in and no one knows you feel like a pod person like everyone is looking at you like “he’s not one of us!”
Steve never is in a relationship long enough where he has to meet the “rents.” Once he did and he felt like her dad was looking at him like he was the one that is….with his daughter. It was just awkward. It is always the father that makes you nervous.
Did you have something go terribly wrong when you met the parents? Was it the most awkward situation of your life?
I had a bad experience when I went out of state to meet my ex’s parents. We had been driving for hours and hours and when we hit the door he hit the food line. His entire extended family was over for a holiday dinner and he left me all alone. I had to do my own introductions explaining who I was and why I was there. Later on I met a woman and her granddaughter and she mentioned that it was weird that I had the same name as her daughter. Later it was explained that my ex dated her daughter pretty seriously and they thought that the granddaughter was my ex’s kid. I made a jerk of myself because I had no idea what was going on. I felt like I didn’t really know the man I had been dating.