You’ve been dating your partner for a few months and everything is going great. So great, in fact, that you’re thinking about meeting each other’s parents. *Eek* It’s a great sign, of course, that you both see enough of a future together to want to take the step. But still, it’s nerve-wracking. What if you unknowingly wear shoes into his mom’s strictly no-shoes house? What if her dad fills a lull in the conversation with a question about your religious leanings? Luckily, there are some steps you can take to make the first meeting as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. Here are seven tips from Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking.
7 Tips for Meeting the Parents without Losing Your Mind
1. Ask Your Partner for Any General Dos and Don’ts
When it comes to a successful first meeting, Trombetti tells us preparation is key. “Ask your significant other for their family’s dos, don’ts, etc.,” she advises. For instance, it’s worth it to know if they keep a no-shoes house or consider cursing totally off limits before you make an unnecessary faux pas.
2. Keep Things Light on First Meeting
Trombetti tells us it’s important to stay calm and go with the flow. She explains, “If they want to play a silly card game, join in on the fun. If they have an odd tradition, join in.” She also recommends trying to avoid topics that can cause arguments like religion, politics and the like. If the family does start talking about a touchy subject, try to stay calm and avoid engaging too much. Make it clear to your partner beforehand if there are specific things you’re uncomfortable talking about so they can gently steer the conversation in a new direction should something awkward come up.
3. Play By Your Partner’s Family’s Rules
“This may mean something like sleeping in separate rooms,” warns Trombetti. In other words? “Do not try to sneak into the other’s room.” Respect your partner’s family’s rules to make a good impression, even if it means sleeping apart or putting the peanut butter in the refrigerator when it clearly belongs in the pantry.
4. Don’t Drink Too Much
We’ve all been there: You’re super nervous in a new social situation so those glasses of Sauvignon Blanc start to go down a little easier than they should. Trombetti recognizes that this is common, but strongly suggests keeping drinking to a minimum to avoid any hangxiety about what you may or may not have said. “My tip is always to limit yourself to two drinks to ensure you will not be too intoxicated, but with two drinks you will settle your nerves a bit!”
5. Bring a Gift for the Host
“If this is a family gathering with many people, you do not need to bring a gift for everyone there, but I would suggest bringing a thoughtful gift for the host,” Trombetti notes. Ask your partner for something thoughtful that their parents love, whether that’s cookies from their favorite bakery or a certain type of flowers. You don’t have to show up with an ornate objet d’art or $150 bottle of wine, but a small, personal gesture should help you make a good impression.
6. Be Honest
Trombetti recognizes that sometimes we’re inclined to try and make ourselves sound better with a little white lie or two when meeting someone (especially someone we want to impress). But avoid the temptation to sugarcoat details about yourself. After all, these folks might be in your life for a very long time, and the last thing you want to do is start a relationship with someone based on a lie—even if it feels totally harmless.
7. Remember That They’re Probably a Little Nervous Too
Remember that anxiety can be a two-way street, and they might be stressing about having a house that’s “fancy” enough for you, or saying the wrong thing that might humiliate their offspring. Bottom line? “Be yourself and have fun,” Trombetti says. “If you make their child happy, most likely that’s all they are going to be looking for!”