Meeting His Parents
By Joanna, age 20, South Wales, United Kingdom
You've just got a date with that guy you've liked all year. The date goes fantastically and you're soon official. Soon enough, parents will have to be met - and it's terrifying.
For me, both meeting his parents and him meeting mine were equally as terrifying as the other. What if his parents don't like me? What if my parents don't like him, or he doesn't like them? What if I don't like his parents? All these questions ran through my mind constantly.
You want to impress your boyfriend's parents, naturally, but that means that the smallest thing turns in to a huge worry. Here are my survival tips for the dreaded first meeting of the boyfriend's parents:
1. Wear something you feel comfortable in. Obviously no one wants to look over or under dressed, so keep it casual or appropriate for where you're going - if you're going to their house use the classic jeans and converse combo, but if it's a meal out somewhere posh, obviously dress up a little bit more!
2. Remember your manners. It sounds like an obvious one, but with all those nerves rattling around it can be hard, especially when you're in a conversation with his mum and someone interrupts to ask if you'd like a drink. But pleases and thank yous go a long way, as does a 'nice to have met you' on the way out!
3. Be honest. If they ask you your opinion on something, tell them, without being offensive in case they are of the opposite opinion. It might seem like a good idea to say that you don't know, and sometimes it is, but if there are a lot of questions like this and you keep answering that you don't know, you might come across as a bit dull. It's good to have an opinion, as it shows that you can think for yourself and that you're intelligent.
4. Be as relaxed as you can. It's never going to be the most nerve-soothing situation, but if you're relaxed more, you'll smile more and seem like a positive person. Although this one's a hard one to master, the more relaxed you can become the better your experience will be, and it will save your hosts thinking they're making you nervous through something they are doing.
5. Be on time, especially if his parents are cooking dinner for you. Some mothers, like mine, get very stressed out when they're cooking for guests, and latecomers will not help their stress levels. Even if they aren't cooking, they might have gone to a lot of effort to clean their house and prepare it ready for you to arrive, so have some consideration. Also, it will help you to make a better impression!
6. Ask questions. This one can be tricky, and you'll obviously have to be careful about what sorts of questions you ask, but if you're having a conversation about books and one of his parents tells you that they enjoy reading, don't be afraid to ask them what sorts of books they like. Similarly, if they do ask your opinion on something without having already stated theirs, ask them back. It will show that you're interested in getting to know them as people, and through that show that you care a lot about their son!
7. Discuss meeting them with your boyfriend before the actual event. Some of us have conversation topics that we feel uncomfortable with, and if his parents start asking you about one of these it can be difficult to talk about, and difficult to refuse to talk about. If your boyfriend knows what kinds of topics would make you feel anything but at ease, he can direct the conversation another way if they do come up, or have a word with his parents and tell them it would be better not to mention certain things before you meet. This will help you to avoid a very awkward situation and also could strengthen your relationship with your boyfriend, as it shows an ability and willingness to talk to one another about important things.
8. Make sure your boyfriend knows if you're allergic to any kinds of foods, if they are cooking for you or eating out. This is similar to my last point, but the last thing you'd want is to start having an allergic reaction in a crowded restaurant on your first meeting with his parents. The best way around it is probably to ask your boyfriend if food will be involved in the meeting, and if he doesn't already know about your allergies, be honest with him and ask him to let his parents know, just in case.
9. Don't be judgemental. Just as you want them to like you, they'll want you to like them, so if someone accidentally expresses an opinion that you severely disagree with, don't get upset with them. The chances are they've spoken without thinking, not realising your opinion on the matter, and when they do find out that you're a vegetarian after stating that all vegetarians are abnormal, they'll probably feel really guilty. Also, if they do make such a comment and then follow it up by asking your opinion, be honest, but try to make it light hearted. You'd appreciate it the other way around, and if you can make a joke out of it, everyone will feel more at ease.
10. Smile. Even if you feel really tense inside, smiling will help you to feel better. You'll radiate positive vibes and receive them in return, and leave them with an overall wonderful impression of you.
I hope this helps any of you out there who are as nervous as I was when I met my boyfriend's parents! I'll follow this up next month with tips for when he meets your parents. =)