How To Survive Meeting Her Family
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Congratulations are in order! You are dating someone new and it has gotten to the point where you have been invited to a weekend getaway with her family! Or, perhaps dinner. Or maybe a holiday tradition. Regardless of the occasion, there are many important things to keep in mind when spending an extended amount of time with your new girlfriend’s family.
If this is a woman you’re serious about, then you understand the importance of her family at least being willing to tolerate your presence. Hopefully, you can transcend this neutrality and they will actually like you. If family is important to her, their approval of you is something she values. Of course, they will likely just want to see her happy, but the smallest amount of tension possible between you and her family is the goal.
So, first thing’s first:
Make sure you actually look like an adult.
If you’re not equipped enough to piece together a relatively respectable looking outfit for an important occasion, how is her family supposed to assume that you can piece together a future for yourself and her daughter?
It’s true that clothes don’t make the man, but they certainly make an impression. Even if it means going shopping for the first time in the past decade, I have faith that you can find yourself a decent button-up shirt and some nice pants that will suffice for a dinner with the folks.
Whether you are just spending time with her parents or a larger group of her family, don’t be the awkward prom date who stands stiffly over in the corner. Her dad isn’t going to explode like an unstable grenade if you shake his hand the wrong way. They will appreciate a genuine handshake, eye contact, and a self-introduction.
Do not show up empty handed.
Particularly if you are visiting someone’s home, never show up without at least bringing a bottle of wine or something that your girlfriend has let you know is appropriate to the occasion. And please, for the sake of first impressions everywhere, do not make it a bottle of two-buck-chuck.
Don’t go overboard with the drinky-drinks.
A great way to show her parents that you have no self-control as an adult is to get obliterated in their presence during your first couple of meetings. We are all adults here and there’s nothing wrong with loosening yourself up a bit, especially when you are feeling a little pressure, but that should be your goal – not to wake up the next morning and ask your girlfriend if you did something stupid.
Always be cordial and polite, no matter what.
Maybe she has a snarky aunt or an uncle who goes a little overboard at times. Avoid any Romney-Obama arguments with her grandfather by keeping the conversation light and talking about less-divisive topics. Keep your pearly whites showing through the evening and listen intently to what others have to say.
Don’t be fake, but actually listen and pay attention. This way you can revisit earlier conversations later in the evening with those family members and they will feel special that you really retained what they said. Plus, it’s important that you can keep track of her family members and what’s going on in their lives when she brings up her aunt Mable’s back injury in future discussions.
Don’t try to be all impressive.
If they’re coming over to your place, call up that Gatsby-esque party planner and cancel the band, the ice sculptures, and the fountain that’s on its way to your front yard.
The idea here is to be mature, classy, and respectable. A man who could potentially someday be part of the family – not a boy who still feels the need to prove his worth to others through flash and panache. If your general overall style is a little more ostentatious, nobody is going to fault you for it – just don’t go completely out of character in an attempt to overdo it, because that’s exactly what you’ll do.
Out to dinner? Offer to pay. Once.
The “Who pays here?” question is always an awkward one to answer on the spot. The odds are her parents are going to pick up the bill, but that doesn’t mean you should sit back smugly and let it happen. As a grown adult man, you can casually lean over to her parents mid-way through the meal and in a very matter-of-fact tone, let them know you would like this dinner to be on you, if that’s okay with them. If they decline, offer to at least take care of yourself and your girlfriend. If they still say no, accept their kindness graciously and offer to get the bill next time.
Handle the goodbye with class.
Keep the embellishments to a minimum. There is no need to express your gratitude for them birthing the most perfect creature to ever walk the earth and for granting you the permission to spend your measly existence in her magnificent presence.
Stand back a bit and let her say her goodbyes, then give her mother a hug and her father a handshake, thank them graciously for the evening (even if you did pay), and let them know you are looking forward to the next time you all get together.
Just be cool, man.
While you may feel some pressure being put in this situation, the fact of the matter is this: If you are meeting her family, they know about you. They have heard good-to-great things about you, and are likely looking forward to getting to know the man who has their daughter smitten.
This basically means you are starting with an “A” and just need to keep your grade throughout the evening. Your best bet is to treat her family like you would treat your own – with respect and courtesy. Be kind, be polite, be a little funny (if you actually are), and don’t try too hard.
Before you know it, you’ll be invited over for Christmas dinner.
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