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A Guide to Meeting Your Girlfriend’s Parents

by nick

There will come a time when your girlfriend will utter the words, “my parents can’t wait to meet you this weekend!” You think… what will I say? What shall I wear? What shall I bring? What will they think of me?

Meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time can be a daunting task. It’s a step up from casual dating; you’re saying that you’re ready to start a serious relationship by placing yourself inside her family circle and allowing them to put a face to a name. You’re ready to declare your interest to the most important people in her life.

Parents can be very protective of their daughters, particularly their fathers. They want to feel comfortable with the idea of you as her boyfriend and possibly the future man in her life.  Not all boyfriends treat their girlfriends well, so they want to know that you’re the one that will make her happy. She will also hope that you’ll get along with them both.

So, there’s a lot of pressure involved when meeting her parents for the first time. You want to make a good first impression and come off as the good man you probably are. But like with most things in life, you have to prepare.

But don’t worry! Having been in this situation a few times before, I think I have a few tips that’ll be able to help you.

Dress to impress.  Nothing says more about your personality than your clothes. You’ll probably be visiting her parents’ house and at least sharing a meal so plan wearing work clothes or sweat pants just won’t do. Wear something dressy-casual. Go for something like dark blue jeans paired with a dress shirt and a casual jacket. Wear a casual leather belt with a pair of similarly coloured shoes or boots, and make sure you tuck in your shirt.

Bring a gift. Find out what they like to drink. The safest option will probably be wine since its likely something that both parents can share. Don’t go overboard. It’s the gesture that counts. Of course, if they’re a religious family or the one of them is a recovering alcoholic, wine may not be the best idea, so ask your girlfriend what they may like as a gift first.

Give a friendly greeting. When you first meet the parents, look them in the eye, smile and give them both a firm handshake. Make sure you call them Mr. and Mrs. until they tell you otherwise.

Be yourself. Don’t fake a personality to win the approval of her parents. You should never have to change for anyone just to impress them.

Engage in conversation. Be polite and engage them in conversation. People like others who seem genuinely interested in their lives, and they enjoy to talk about themselves. So ask her parent’s questions and listen intently when they talk to you. When they tell you something, ask follow-up questions to show that you’re interested. Look for common ground that you share with her parents, such as similar interests or hobbies and work from there. Avoid controversial topics such as politics, religion or money. A lot of people bring up touchy subjects to overcome the silence. If they happen to bring up one of these topics, be brief and answer them with an acceptable answer. Safe topics to talk about are your job, your family, sports, movies, pets and current events. It’s likely that they’ll have some questions for you to, being the first time you’ve met. Don’t panic, they just want to get to know the man their daughter has fallen for. Don’t tell rude jokes until you know their sense of humour and steer clear from asking personal questions. Follow the basic rules of polite conversation and don’t interrupt or swear.

Don’t drink too much. If you drink too much, you’ll say too much. Treat it like a business dinner. Two drinks maximum.

Give compliments. It’s usually a good idea to complement their house. If it’s a complete dump, then avoid it, of course. Giving praise will backfire if it’s not genuine. If they’re cooking for you, always compliment the food. If there’s enough left over for seconds and they offer you more, take them up on their offer, even if you’re not really hungry. Compliment your girlfriend too. Obviously not on how hot she is or how great she is in bed. Compliment her nature or personality and show her respect. After all, her parents raised her, so you’re really complimenting them at the same time. However don’t overdo it with the compliments. There is a big difference between sucking up and being polite. Giving too many compliments will make you come across as fake.

Offer to help out. Always offer to help out. Preparing the dinner, laying the table, clearing the table, washing the dishes; there’s always something you can offer to do. They will probably say no but at least you asked.

Be confident. Much of how they’ll judge you will depend on how confident you are. Even if the dad intimidates you, don’t show that you’re intimidated. Keep eye contact and speak clearly. You’ll never gain his respect by staring at the ground and breaking out in a sweat. And if you appear nervous, they may assume that you have something to hide or that you’d rather be anywhere else except there.

Be a good houseguest. If you’re spending the night in her parents’ house, be prepared to sleep in separate rooms. Even if you already live together, respect and follow their rules. Also, bring a t-shirt and pyjama bottoms with you so that if you need to get up in the night you’re not wandering around in your underwear.

Give a friendly goodbye. When you say goodbye, thank your girlfriend’s parents for having you over. Tell them that it was nice to meet them. Shake their hands again and give the mom a hug if she goes in for one.

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