Meeting the parents is a big deal – there are movies made about this moment, after all!
Even though you’re clearly at a great stage in your relationship to be meeting your partner’s parents, it can still feel pretty daunting.
Aside from letting the cat escape, there aren’t many things you can really do wrong.
That being said, we’ve put together a list of tips for meeting the parents, just to help you along the way.
1. Be presentable.
Turn up looking smart! It shouldn’t need to be said, but from personal experience, some people do need telling.
Don’t go OTT and turn up in a tux or ball gown, but make an effort to look presentable.
You only get one chance to make a first impression on their parents, so do your best to look smart, appropriately-dressed, and like an adult.
Ditch the skimpy shirt and low-cut top, consider wearing shoes not sneakers, and get your hair out of your eyes.
Whilst you shouldn’t feel the need to dress completely differently to usual or to hide away your unique style, making a little bit more effort will pay dividends.
2. Take a gift.
Check with your partner if this is appropriate – some people don’t like gifts as it makes them feel awkward.
For others, there are cultural guidelines around what gifts are offensive, so it’s worth checking if you’re unsure.
A bottle of wine, some flowers, chocolates, or dessert are good ideas if you’re going for dinner.
3. Warn them of any dietary needs.
Make sure your partner has let them know if you have any dietary needs before they cook you a meal!
They might just assume you eat meat, or have no idea you have a dairy intolerance, and it’s better to get that all sorted out before you turn up to a huge helping of lasagne and a very awkward dinner…
4. Read the room.
Remember to keep the conversation appropriate to the audience. The story your mates found hilarious might not be suitable to share in front of your partner’s parents – at least not at first!
While we fully agree that you should be yourself and they’ll love you as much as your partner does, you do need to keep tabs on which aspects of your personality you choose to share right away.
Just like you probably hold back from cursing as much as normal when you’re with your grandparents, tailor your speech and actions to the people you’re around here too.
5. Be polite, not smarmy.
Nobody likes a suck-up, so find a good balance between being polite and being genuine.
Don’t make a huge show of helping out or complimenting something, just drop it in casually or quietly give a hand.
You don’t need to draw attention to this kind of thing – it’ll be noticed and appreciated without you making a song and dance about it!
6. Follow the house rules.
If there’s a pile of shoes at the door, take yours off. If the dog isn’t fed from the table, don’t give it leftovers from your plate. If they say grace, sit quietly or join in if you’re religious.
Following the rules of the homeowners is the best way to make a great first impression when meeting your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents.
It also means they won’t feel uncomfortable asking you to do something – you’ll already be on it!
7. Show an interest.
If they’re talking about something, pay attention. Show an interest and genuinely engage with them.
It might not be a topic you’re personally fascinated by, but you should make an effort to join in the conversation with them.
You can also start discussions, of course, being careful to avoid anything potentially inflammatory or controversial. It’s fine and normal to disagree with someone over politics, for example, but that doesn’t mean you need to bring it up the first time you meet your partner’s parents.
8. Don’t be too coupley.
So, your partner’s mom and dad know you’re together, but that doesn’t make it okay for you to be overly coupley in front of them.
You can make out later, so just keep it nice and PG while you’re with their parents!
It might be the first time they’ve seen their child in a relationship, so it may be weird enough for them to meet you, let alone watch you stroke their hair.
Be respectful, be polite, and show that you have your own identity by being comfortable holding a conversation without relying on your partner.
9. Don’t monopolize things.
Yes, this is a social event designed to let your partner’s parents get to know you, but that doesn’t mean it’s just about you!
Try not to monopolize the conversation, and make sure everyone is involved.
It’s easy to just sit there and let the parents grill you with questions, but you’ll make a much better impression if you proactively start conversations, make an effort to keep everyone involved, and can hold your own.
10. Be compassionate.
You can’t expect a perfect first meeting, so don’t set yourself up for disappointment by doing this!
Do your best to anticipate it potentially being a bit awkward, and acknowledge that you might get a little bit uncomfortable at times.
It’ll be great overall, but try to keep your expectation realistic as you go into this social event.
11. Be prepared to see a different side to your partner.
You might think you know your partner inside out, but you’ll learn a whole heap more once you see them around their family!
They might be a much sweeter, more timid version around their parents and revert back to being a kid. Equally, they might fall back into being a stroppy teenager and have a mini tantrum.
Either way, be prepared to see a different side to your boyfriend or girlfriend when you meet their parents.
12. Be supportive.
Your partner might be very stressed about you meeting their parents for a number of reasons – maybe they’ve never liked their ex-partners, or maybe they just don’t have a great relationship with their parents themselves.
They might feel embarrassed about where they come from or their old lifestyle, so be patient and show them support.
Remind them that you love them and you want to make them happy, whether that means going over for dinner or bailing last minute because they’re feeling too anxious.
Take their lead and move at their pace.
13. Let yourself enjoy it.
We often get so fixated on ‘events’ and their outcomes (e.g. “Will they ask us to dinner again?” “Do your parents now hate me because I spilt my wine?”) that we forget to just enjoy what’s happening in the moment.
You might accidentally miss out on hilarious stories of your partner as a kid because you’re too busy focusing on your posture and table etiquette!
Be sensible and mindful, but also let yourself relax into things and enjoy being so special to someone that they want everyone to meet you and love you too!
14. End on a good note.
This is an obvious one, but make sure you say thank you if they’ve cooked you dinner, or mention how lovely it was to meet them.
It’s important to be mature and acknowledge the effort they’ve gone to. They’ll really appreciate you ending things on a positive note, and it’ll be something that’s fresh in their minds when they start talking about you as soon as you/they leave!
You may also like:
- How To Be Charming: 13 No Nonsense Tips!
- How To Make Small Talk: 8 No Nonsense Tips + 8 Starter Topics
- Your Moving In Together Checklist – 8 Things to Consider Beforehand
- Don’t Like Your Son’s/Daughter’s Boyfriend/Girlfriend? Read This.