How to meet your partner’s family for the first time

How to meet your partner's family for the first time

Although first impressions aren’t always an accurate representation of who we are, they’re a way for people to create an idea of who they deem us to be. While the holidays are meant for feeling thankful and giving gifts, there can also be some stress that comes with this festive season, especially if you’re meeting your partner’s family for the first time. From wondering how many servings of mashed potatoes you can eat in your tight pants (that took weeks to choose) to worrying how you’ll manage to hold a steady conversation, you don’t want to come overthinking, but you also don’t want to be underprepared. In order to find the perfect balance, here are seven tips for meeting your partner’s family during the holiday season.

How to meet your partner's family for the first time

1. Learn the family dynamic beforehand

The key to success isn’t knowing the scenario that’s coming, but preparing for any possible one that could form. To gain insight on your partner’s family, ask them questions about their family dynamic. For example, does a parent that has a strict personality, or are there certain topics that should be avoided? Are they a family who jokes around with each other? You shouldn’t feel the need to change your personality to fit with your partner’s family, but the gesture of learning about them in advance will help calm your nerves and help you feel more prepared for what to expect.

Also try…

  • Ask your partner what they think you should know
  • Focus on individual family members and begin finding similarities between them and you (for potential conversation starters)
  • Don’t feel nosy for wanting to know more information—the fact that you’re trying means you care about your partner

2. Prepare for small talk

Before you set out to rehearse your carefully curated summary of the last three years of your career (and the reasons for why you’re so successful), take a deep breath. Even though it’s a smart idea to have topics in the back of your mind, allow the conversation to flow in a natural direction. Through having open-ended questions at hand, you’ll feel more at ease with the conversations at the dinner table.

Also try…

  • Avoid controversial issues such as politics and religious beliefs
  • Have go-to conversation starters when there’s a lull in the conversation, and do not reach for your phone
  • Try easy conversation starters like:
    • What’s your favorite holiday memory as a child?
    • What’s the side dish you can’t live without?
    • What’s the last movie you’ve seen?
    • Who do you think will win the football game?

    3. Be mindful of your attire

    There’s a time and place for your sexy mini dress or trendy ripped jeans, but it’s probably not during your partner’s family gathering. We stan self-expression more than anything when it comes to style, but think about what could also be a reason for unnecessary judgements from those who are more traditional. After all, the goal of this celebration is not to be trendy or expressive, but rather to show off your personality while keeping the peace with the family. When it doubt, lean toward the safer side with your outfit this holiday season and make a statement with your personality instead. Go for a classic LBD or trousers and a sweater, and then use simple accessories like a family necklace or colorful earrings to express your style.

    Also try…

    • Follow the rule that if you have to question if you should wear it, don’t
    • Get opinions from your significant other on outfit options
    • Plan your outfit in advance so you’re not stressed out day of

    4. Attempt to help out

    Although your ability to converse is one that won’t go unnoticed, your gesture to help out is one that’ll make you unforgettable. Whether you ask to pass out the pie or wash the dishes, be on the lookout for ways you can offer a hand and take the opportunity to ask. And if your significant other’s family wants you to feel like a guest and serve you? Don’t continue to insist. After all, the only difference between coming off as helpful instead of hostile is your ability to recognize boundaries.

    Also try…

    • Choose only 2-3 tasks to help with (asking to help with everything may come off as too much)
    • Consider staying and starting small talk while the family member is doing dishes or finishing the dessert
    • Clean up after yourself and be aware of your table manners

    5. Respect the family rules

    The universal rule of every household? Being under their roof means you’re also under their rules. As a similar concept to knowing the family dynamic, your knowledge on the family rules is just as crucial as your willingness to respect them. Maybe your partner’s family wants you to sleep in separate rooms or to take off your shoes to wear house slippers—rules are rules and how well you follow them matters more than if you agree with them.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    Meeting your partner’s parents is an important step in the relationship. After all, the parents will likely be a significant part of the life you’re building with your partner. You want to do it at the right time and give yourself the best chance at making a great first impression, so here’s some expert advice to help ensure that your relationship with them gets off to a good start.

    How long should you wait to meet your partner’s parents?

    “Every relationship is different,” says relationship therapist Jaime Bronstein, LCSW. “You need to do what feels right and appropriate for yours.” As an example, she points out that a year in a long-distance relationship may feel very different from one in which you spend just about every day with your partner. Relationship coaches Devon and Asha Still agree, adding, “Time isn’t as much of a factor as is what you do with that time.”

    All three dismiss the notion that there comes a definitive stage of the relationship when you should meet the parents. However, Bronstein believes that it is possible to make the move too soon.

    “Around six months in the same city, dating and getting to know each other, is a nice average,” she says. “Just honor your voice. Don’t jump into it or be pressured to do something you’re not ready to do. If you’re taking this step, you should feel like you’re going to be with this person long term.”

    How to prepare.

    Meeting the parents is about building on the relationship you have with your partner and developing one with the people closest to them. You’re being invited further into your significant other’s life. A conversation beforehand to ensure both of you are on the same page regarding why you’re taking this step could help relieve any anxiety about the first meeting.

    That said, you don’t want to treat meeting the parents like a job interview and Google them or grill your partner for personal information. “You should already know a bit about their parents at this point in the relationship,” Bronstein advises. “If you don’t, that could be an indicator that it might not be time to meet them just yet.” She says that digging and “knowing too much could make you show up inauthentic, and what’s most important is that you show up as you.”

    Though you don’t want to do any hard-core research, be sure you’re aware of important details. For instance, make sure you know the proper pronunciation of their names. Ask about dietary restrictions so you don’t show up with crab dip if mom has a seafood allergy. Learn just enough to not faceplant, but not so much that you start to feel like being yourself isn’t good enough.

    “The goal should be intentionality,” Asha says.

    What to wear.

    Don’t stress about what to wear when meeting the parents. Put on something you feel relaxed in, short of loungewear. “Obviously, you want to be respectful,” Bronstein says. “But dress like yourself. When in doubt as far as what to wear, I always say it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.”

    Tips for making a great first impression:

    1. Be yourself.

    “A good first impression is an honest first impression,” Asha says. “Most times we put so much pressure on trying to make the best impression when meeting our partner’s family that it comes off forced or uncomfortable. Allow them to get to know who you are, not just a representation of what you think they would want to see.”

    2. Show up how you want to be received.

    “I view meeting your partner’s parents as similar to a job interview in this aspect only,” Bronstein says. She echoes the sentiment of authenticity but suggests putting your best foot forward. Show up as the best version of you. For instance, if alcohol negatively alters your behavior and you don’t want that to influence how the parents feel about you, maybe don’t drink during the get-together.

    3. Peel the onion.

    Actively engage in getting to know your partner’s parents. We all like to feel as though we’re being listened to and that a person genuinely cares what we have to say. Bronstein recommends accomplishing this by “peeling the onion” during the conversation. Delve into the things they say, one layer at a time. Ask follow-up questions and show that you want to understand them.

    4. Go with the flow.

    Don’t aim to control the interaction. If you try to peel the onion and they don’t want to go deeper, move on. You might have things you’d like to talk about, but as Asha says, “If the conversation goes in a different direction, go with the flow.” Being pushy or rigid is a fast way to turn someone off.

    5. Bring a gift.

    While deep research isn’t necessary, Bronstein does encourage finding out what the parents like so you can bring a thoughtful thank you gift. Something such as a bottle of their favorite wine if you have dinner at their house would be perfect.

    6. Be present.

    Thinking too far ahead and wondering if the parents like you can distract you from the conversation, which might also increase the chances that you’ll say something off base or something that shows you’re not paying attention to the people you should be getting to know. “You can never go wrong with staying in the moment,” Bronstein says.

    7. Be gracious.

    No matter how things go, your partner’s parents took time out of their day to meet you. Let them know you appreciate that.

    What to talk about & questions to ask.

    You and your partner’s parents have one definite thing in common: You all care about your partner. Asha recommends using this mutual interest as a catalyst for discussion. “Go into the conversation asking questions that relate to your partner and things they’ve instilled in them over the years,” she says.

    In addition to all things significant other, you and their parents can talk about:

    • Their hobbies and what they do for fun
    • How they met
    • Their favorite television shows
    • Where they grew up
    • Their work
    • Local happenings

    What to avoid talking about.

    “Often, people suggest not discussing certain topics like religion or politics right away,” Asha points out. “However, we believe in just testing the water before you jump in. Those topics amongst others are very important to discuss and may also give you a different perspective on your partner’s upbringing, beliefs, and values.”

    Topics you may want to “test the water” on before initiating a full-blown discussion during that first meeting include:

    • The president and politics
    • High-profile news and current events
    • Sexuality
    • Religious beliefs and theories
    • Previous relationships

    The bottom line.

    You want your partner’s parents to welcome you into their family with open arms. That’s understandable. “It happens a lot where parents don’t like who their child picks as a partner,” Bronstein admits. “That can make things hard. But boundaries need to be set with both your parents.”

    Don’t allow their opinions to dictate your behavior or your relationship. Be respectful. Be yourself. Live with the results and let them learn to love you for you.

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    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    Meeting your partner’s family for the first time can be stressful, but then top it off with meeting them at the holidays, no less, and you’ve got a recipe for nerves. Before you decide to run away, break up, or pretend to be sick, put these tips in your back pocket and know you’ve got this!

    1. Pick Your Most Comfortable and Polished Outfit

    Now is not the time to choose those pants that you can’t quite zip up or put on that racy blouse, even if your partner loves it. Choose an outfit in which you feel comfortable and look good because what you’re wearing is the last thing you should be stressed about when you arrive.

    2. Eat a Little Before You Go

    You definitely don’t want to meet the parents on an empty stomach and then decide to drink a little wine or a cocktail to relax. That’s asking either for a hangover or for you to have an embarrassing moment right in front of the family.

    3. Avoid Certain Topics

    This isn’t the time to get on your soapbox and talk politics, religion, or another hot-button issue. Let these people get to know you — and you get to know them — before you decide to talk to them about subjects that are touchy for some people.

    4. Ask Them Questions

    Put the focus on the family by asking them questions to get them talking! By doing this, you’ll learn a lot about the family without stumbling over nervous words. Plus, people love talking about themselves and it will make the time go by faster.

    5. Watch the Wine

    You don’t want to be rude — and a little wine does help you unwind — but watch the alcohol intake for your own sake.

    6. Show Up With a Gift

    Don’t go crazy with some huge present or intricate gift, but no matter what you do, don’t show up empty-handed. A bottle of wine. Nice flowers. Whatever it is, bring a simple “welcome” gift to say hello and thanks.

    7. Have Patience and Tolerance

    Everyone’s got a little crazy in his or her family, so if one of the relatives gets a little loud, is weird, or is too drunk, just breathe deep and realize that eventually, you get to go home.

    8. Offer to Help

    Most likely the host or hostess won’t accept you scrubbing dishes, but there’s nothing nicer than a guest who offers to help. Get off your seat and offer to dry or wash dishes, or perhaps, set the table. No matter what you do — at least offer.

    9. Watch Your PDA

    While your partner might get the great idea of a quickie at the fam’s . . . I would advise against it. OK, the bad girl in me says go ahead and do it, but the practical adult in me says hold off on that. Do you really want the family to meet “all” of you?

    10. Learn About the Family Ahead of Time

    Try to learn about the various family members ahead of time (Instagram can be your best friend here!), and use these facts in conversation. Of course, make them positive facts like the time his sister won the college basketball tournament or when her brother graduated law school. People like to brag about themselves and it will flatter them to know you took the time to listen and learn about who your partner’s family is as individuals.

    It can be a really big moment in a new relationship when your partner says they want to introduce you to their parents, because they’re letting you into their true inner circle. However, with that excitement and feeling of acceptance often comes some major nerves. After all, there’s a lot of pressure to make a good first impression. This can be especially challenging if you’re shy or have a bit of the old social anxiety. In that case, having a few go-to icebreakers for meeting your partner’s family can keep the conversation flowing. They can also help when you inevitably encounter those awkward silences that happen when you’re first introduced to someone, but feel extra intense when meeting your partner’s parents.

    Icebreakers are essentially just friendly open-ended questions that will engage your partner’s family and show that you’re also interested in getting to know them better. Plus, they have the bonus of helping you getting to know your partner a little bit better, too. With a good icebreaker, you can settle everyone’s nerves and get engaged in a real conversation, which is a great way to ingratiate your partner’s family and start building that bond with them. So, if you’re planning on meeting your partner’s family soon, here are some questions to keep in mind to help break that ice.

    If there’s one topic that’s both safe and likely to get the conversation going, it’s asking your partner’s parents about them when they were growing up. Maybe you’ll learn something sweet about them when they are a kid. Or even better, your partner’s family might offer up some funny and embarrassing stories to lighten the mood. Your partner may cringe a little, but hey, nothing makes everyone in the room feel more at ease than having a great laugh together.

    Do a little recon with your partner before you meet with their family and find out a few things you may have in common with each of them. That way when there’s a lull, you can immediately bring the conversation back to some common ground. You’ll all feel comfortable talking about the subject and you may even feel a bit more connected when you express a shared interest, experience, or passion.

    Again, this question is going to require a bit of pregaming with your partner before the big meeting. Find out some interesting details about their family members — something unexpected or something they’re proud of — then ask them about it. There’s a good chance they’ll be excited to discuss it (since most folks do enjoy talking about themselves), but it shows that you’re interested in getting to know them, too.

    Who doesn’t enjoy a good love story? After all, you’re there because of your love connection, so it’s natural to wonder how the other family members met their significant others. Nostalgia is a great way to connect and get a little deeper with another person, so naturally this is a great topic to break the ice with.

    Remember when Ben Stiller met his girlfriend's family for the first time in Meet the Parents? Although the chances of something that disastrous happening in real life are slim, first encounters with your guy's family can still be horribly scary. Before you shake hands, commit these DON'Ts to memory—they're straight from family members who've been there.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    DON'T bring your phone to the dinner table.

    "When my son brought his new girlfriend over for dinner the first time, she was texting on her cell phone the entire meal. She was trying to hide it under the table and pretend she was listening to our conversation, but it was obvious she had more important' people to converse with."

    DON'T get all touchy-feely.

    "I hate it when there's too much PDA. My son had a girlfriend who was really affectionate in front of my husband, my other children and myself. The first time we met his girlfriend, she kept coming up behind him and grabbing him or kissing his cheeks, which made me really uncomfortable. I understand how it is to be young and in love, but seriously, there is an appropriate time and place and…in front of your boyfriend's parents is not one of them."

    DON'T forget your manners.

    "My brother brought his new girlfriend over for the holidays. After a family meal, we all got up and started clearing the table and washing the dishes…well, everyone got up to help except her. She stayed seated at the table, playing a game on her cell phone. Later on, after we had exchanged gifts, she threw her used wrapping paper to the floor and walked out of the room, leaving the mess for someone else to clean up. She was rude and very disrespectful."

    —Alyx, San Francisco

    DON'T be a know-it-all.

    "Since my grandson is now a busy, working grown man, the occasions when we get to sit down and visit are rare. Last Thanksgiving, I sat next to him at dinner to catch up, but his new girlfriend started answering questions for him and controlling the conversation. When I tried to tell her a funny story about him as a little boy, she interrupted. It annoyed me that she wasn't interested in anything the family had to say and tried to act like she knew our grandson much better than we did."

    *—Jerry, Clearwater, Fla. *

    DON'T bring your problems with you.

    "During the holidays one year, my son brought his then-girlfriend over to stay for a long weekend. As the visit progressed, it was obvious that she was angry and irritated with my son. She kept sulking in the corner and texting on her phone, refusing to participate in conversation. She even went as far as outwardly ignoring my son in front of everyone during dinner! My son tried to ask her a simple question, and she rolled her eyes and looked at her plate. It was so awkward and uncomfortable that no one really knew what to say or do next."

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    Spending the holidays with your partner’s family for the first time can be an opportunity to get to know important people in their life, partake in new traditions, and grow even closer. It can also be stressful to feel like you’re being evaluated with every move. The holidays can be notoriously difficult times, even for the best of families.

    Insider spoke to relationship experts to find out the best ways to make a good impression while still feeling like yourself. Here are eight tips for meeting your partner’s family over the holidays.

    Make sure your partner has your back.

    Before your visit, talk to your partner about how you can look out for each other during the holiday. Maybe you want them to sit next to you at meals, occasionally check in, or run interference if you get stuck in an unending conversation with a talkative relative.

    “There are some people who believe that if I bring somebody along, they should be socially capable of taking care of themselves and I shouldn’t have to look after them, but that’s a mistake,” relationship expert Dr. Stan Tatkin, author of “We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love,” told Insider. “When the other person has a home field advantage, it’s important that people talk about how they’re going to protect each other, particularly the person who doesn’t know anyone.”

    Your partner might ask for backup from you, too.

    “That’s the idea of being a couple,” said Tatkin. “They protect each other. They have each other’s backs, even with people that are familiar.”

    Ready to meet the in-laws? Get ready to convince them you’re the best candidate for the biggest job they’ve likely ever interviewed someone for: marrying their child.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    You’ve finally found “the one.” Congrats! But it’s not time to breathe a sigh of relief quite yet. First, you’ve got to get through another challenge: meeting the in-laws. Yikes! Clearly, this is more than just another meet-and-greet. You’ll have to convince your partner’s parents that out of all the “fish in the sea,” you’re the right person to marry their child and make him or her happy for the rest of your life together. While meeting the in-laws can be nerve-wracking, remember that your partner adores you and chose you for a reason, so his or her parents are more likely than not to follow suit!

    To help you navigate meeting the in-laws, we asked top relationship experts how to score a rave review.

    Know the odds are in your favor.

    Despite the exaggerated scenes in movies like Meet the Parents or Monster-in-Law, your S.O.’s parents are actually rooting for you—they understand that marriage is meant to be a life-long commitment, so they truly want to like you. “They want what’s best for their child, and if that means you, they want to love you,” says Celeste Holbrook, Ph.D., sexual health consultant and educator. “They’ll be looking for reasons to think you’re the bee’s knees, so just show up and shine!’ In other words, be yourself when meeting the in-laws, and let your partner’s decision to be with you make them proud.

    Feel confident about how you look.

    When it comes to what to wear, take your cues from what you know about your future in laws. Are they super casual? If so, dressing up too much could make both them and you uncomfortable. Do they tend to dress a bit fancier? If so, dressing too casually could cause you to seem dismissive of this important event. Remember, first impressions stick, so take the time to select an outfit that’s appropriate for the occasion, but still in line with who you really are. “Showing up a bit manicured, comfortable, and pulled together is going to come across as thoughtful and impressive,” says Carmel Jones, a relationship expert and writer for the website

    Offer a small gift or goodie.

    Though you won’t need to do this each and every time you see his ‘rents, it’s a nice gesture to bring something small when you’re meeting them for the first time. “Just a little something as a token of respect is fine,” says Diana Anzaldua, a licensed clinical therapist in Austin, Texas. “If you meet at a restaurant, there’s really no need to bring anything. But if you go to their home, consider bringing along a nice bouquet of seasonal cheerful flowers or a fresh-baked dessert like scones or cookies to show off your baking skills.”

    Prepare in advance.

    Before meeting the in-laws for the first time, make an effort to learn a bit about them. Ask your partner questions like where their parents and family are from, what type of activities they enjoy, and what topics of conversation they like to engage in. This can also help forewarn you about certain hot topics you might want to steer clear of mentioning. “For the first meeting, avoid controversial issues like religion and politics. If your in-laws bring it up, it’s okay to have an opinion, just make sure to read the room. You’re about to know these people for a very long time,” says Jones.

    Find common ground.

    As topics arise in conversation, feel free to talk about yourself when meeting the in-laws, as well. For example, if his mom says she loves Zumba, feel free to chime in and tell her about your own love of dance. And if his father mentions he loves handmade furniture, feel free to let him know your father shares a similar interest, and maybe even that he made some of the furniture in your home.

    Center the conversation around them.

    Don’t get too caught up in having your in-laws learn about you: this is your chance to learn about them, too! That’s why it’s important to avoid the temptation to ramble on about yourself all night, and instead, direct the conversation to things they want to talk about. “Ask them how they met and they’ll probably give you tons of information that might provoke follow-up questions,” says Jones. “Or, ask about childhood stories related to your partner. Anything that requires a bit of family history or personal stories is going to show that you are interested in who they are as people, and how you fit into their idea of family. It’s much more interesting than asking a question about their day or work life.”

    Avoid checking email or answering text messages.

    In our technologically saturated world it’s hard to unplug, but if there’s one time you should stay tech-free and focused it’s when meeting the in-laws for the first time. Jones warns, “Too much time on the phone is going to make your in-laws feel that you don’t appreciate their time. It also shows a lack of maturity. Make sure to make eye contact, stay in the room, and put your phone down.”

    Let them know you love their son or daughter.

    While it might seem forward to gush to them about the love of your life right off the bat, most of the time, it’s what they’re hoping to hear. But, warns Jones, while your partner’s parents want to know that you love their child, they definitely do not want to imagine the two of you getting intimate. So shelf the PDA when meeting the in-laws. “A kiss on the cheek is okay, holding hands or putting an arm around your partner on the couch is okay. But making out or heavy touching is not appropriate,” says Jones.

    Follow up.

    After you meet the in-laws for the first time, consider sending a follow-up thank-you text or note. “Little moments like this show the family that you appreciate the time they’ve given you, and that you look forward to spending more time together as a family,” says Jones. And of course, it will also bode well for the next big event—introducing your future in-laws to your own family!

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    If you’re reading this then probably time has come to break the barrier between you and your significant other’s parents. If you have already crossed that first meeting milestone, you can check if all went well by the book.

    If you and your partner mutually think that time has come to make each other known to your own set of parents then be prepared for the first meeting rollercoaster. Even if you want to go with the flow and not worry about it too much, there are a set of do’s and don’ts that need to be followed for a successful meeting.

    1. Do not meet during a big family gathering or function

    This goes without saying–if you are really trying to forge a relationship with them, do not meet during hectic times. They could be hosting, entertaining various other family members, and just exhausted to even have a decent conversation with you. Choose a quieter time and plan a lunch or dinner with the immediate family according to their convenience.

    2. Know them before you meet them

    This is something most couples forget to go over. It is essential that your partner lets you in on how their parents and siblings are. Whether they are casual and talkative, quiet and reserved, outgoing and curious, or anything else–you need to know. Going in there with a blank slate will do you no good. Know about them and prepare beforehand, because a little homework never hurt anybody.

    3. Be on the same page about the relationship with your partner

    Where are you guys headed? Indian families like to know what this relationship means to their child, so if you haven’t already discussed it now is the time. It shouldn’t be that the two of you read completely different stories about the relationship to their family and are left more confused than them.

    4. Dress yourself and be comfortable

    You might want to dress to impress and win them over with your style. But what’s the point if you’ll be fidgety and uncomfortable at the dinner table, and not participating in the banter? Don’t go there in pyjamas or basic denim shorts. Put in an effort, but keep the element of comfort at the back of your mind.

    5. Talk less. Listen more.

    The only way to break into the family is to listen more. You do not need to fill in awkward silences with a monologue about your life until now. You just need to be a good listener and direct them toward conversations where they talk about family traditions and childhood memories.

    6. No controversial hot topics for the first meeting

    Stray away from controversial topics like politics, social issues, and other such issues which are sure to send you into a full-fledged argument. These are topics to bring up in consecutive meetings but definitely not in the first. But if it happens to come up and you get offended or put off by something, do not lose your cool. Manoeuvre around it and politely put your point and let the conversation go at the first opportunity.

    7. Ask questions and get involved

    Families love to see someone hype them up by showing interest in them. You can enquire about their traditions, their likes and dislikes, their hobbies and even the dish you loved–ask for the recipe. These topics will get the ball of conversation rolling. Do not talk too much and let them do most of the talking. Try to retain most of the things they say to use in future conversations and meetings with them.

    8. Be tasteful about PDA

    It is okay to assert that you both are romantic experts by holding hands, long stares, hugs, and pecks. Families love to know that their child is truly involved with their partner and it puts them at ease. But be mindful and tasteful about it. Don’t shove your tongue down their throat, no hanky panky under the table, and no bathroom sex is advisable.

    9. Do not sit on your ass the whole time

    Be helpful. If you see someone doing something, even if it is laying the table, offer your help. Keep your glass back in the kitchen and ask beforehand if you can get something with you when you come visiting. It is nice to be around a proactive person than a lazy person.

    10. Don’t sweat it if you think it flopped

    You might not know the entire truth. You cannot know the result of the first meeting just by your own instincts. Your partner’s parents could be closed off hence came off as cold, but they truly enjoyed your company. So give it another meeting or two to help them open up to you and then decide to bring it up with your partner.

    Many people wait until the holidays to introduce a new partner to the family. Here’s how to make that first visit go smoothly.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    By Hilary Sheinbaum

    Spending time with your significant other’s family during the holidays can be stressful, especially if you’re meeting them for the very first time.

    While each romantic relationship moves at its own pace, Wyatt Fisher, a clinical psychologist in Boulder, Colo., recommends waiting about three months from when you first started dating to introduce your partner to family members. “Just to make sure the relationship has a good footing, and you’re feeling like this has some potential,” Dr. Fisher said.

    To keep that solid standing while attending familial festivities — and maybe get invited back next year — here are some suggestions from relationship and etiquette experts.

    Send or Bring a Gift

    The general rule of thumb is never arrive empty-handed, said Myka Meier, a founder of the Plaza Hotel Finishing Program in New York, which provides etiquette courses. “It’s not only to show a gesture of that first meeting, but it’s also showing gratitude for the invitation.”

    You can send a flower arrangement (not a bouquet) ahead of time. Or, if you prefer having a gift in hand, baked goods, holiday-themed candles or toys for the family pet are appropriate. Ms. Meier warns against gifting alcohol — in case they’re non-drinkers. “You may not know what their preferences are,” she said.

    Dress Appropriately

    During holiday get-togethers, some families sport formal wear, while others opt for casual, matching get-ups (even pajamas). It’s always a good idea to confirm dress-code expectations with your partner or ask the parents ahead of time.

    “Talk ear-to-ear with the hosts,” said Jodi R.R. Smith, the founder of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Boston. “Say, ‘I want to pack appropriately for your holiday. Do you dress up? Do you dress down?’” Parents are usually happy to discuss wardrobe coordination in advance, she said, so guests can plan accordingly.

    Address Them Appropriately

    Keep things formal for starters, unless otherwise noted. “I would always recommend having a title in front of their names to show respect,” Ms. Meier said. The parents, of course, may insist that you call them by their first names, or even a nickname. “Let them ask you to call them something else,” she said.

    Remain Focused

    While speaking with family members, it’s important to make eye contact, establish a firm handshake and put away your phone, if you are able.

    “Be truly present when someone is talking, and allow yourself a moment to respond genuinely,” said Anna Nicholaides, a clinical psychologist and owner of Philadelphia Couples Therapy in Philadelphia. Dr. Nicholaides notes these practices display mindfulness while growing relationship intimacy. “Frankly, it makes people like you more when you’re a good listener.”

    Stay Upbeat

    You’ll want to avoid discussing politics, religion and controversial subjects. Instead, talk about where you’re from, shared interests, hobbies and sports, and ask them questions, too. Also, avoid being critical. “No complaining about how hard your job is, or your bout with the flu,” Ms. Meier said.

    Show, Don’t Touch

    In the family home, cultural differences can affect how you interact with your partner, and this includes public displays of affection.

    Ms. Meier suggests following the lead of your significant other. “If your partner is reaching for your hand and trying to hug or kiss you in front of family, that’s what they’re comfortable with,” she said.

    If being physically affectionate is a no-no in that family, there are other ways to demonstrate your affection. “You can display kindness to your partner by laughing at their jokes,” Dr. Nicholaides said.

    Lend a Helping Hand

    You can be a team player by kindly offering to assist with chores such as setting the table or clearing it after a meal. “It could come off as lazy if you’re sitting there watching a host and hostess run around, and looking expectant to be served,” Ms. Meier said. “If they say no, then they don’t want you to, and that’s O.K.”

    Don’t Get Tipsy

    Try to limit your alcohol consumption to one or two glasses of wine to keep your composure. “Don’t use alcohol as a social crutch,” Ms. Smith said, adding, “You don’t want to give them any reason to not like you.”

    Besides, you can always enjoy your favorite cocktail when you’re back at home or meet up with friends later at a bar.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    Meeting a partner’s children for the first time is one of the biggest milestones in a relationship, so it’s no wonder that the prospect can be more than a little intimidating. Leading up to the event, co-parents and their partners are left agonising over the ‘what ifs’. What if they don’t like each other, what if they don’t get along, what if they’re not ready—these and other questions can overwhelm couples who feel ready to take the next step in building a life together. But like with most things, some preparation and careful forethought can ease the way and help the relationships between your partner and your children get off to a solid start.

    Preparing for the meeting

    Deciding When

    The most important piece that must be decided before your partner and your children meet is whether or not it’s the right time. Your relationship should be well-established and stable before any introductions are made. This prevents children from meeting and forming attachments to partners who may not be in it for the long haul.

    You may need to consult your parenting agreement as well. Some plans will include instructions for how to handle introductions between children and new partners and when. If there are such stipulations in your agreement, respect them and do not introduce your partner before the time allowed in your parenting plan.


    If you’ve reached the point where you feel comfortable with introductions, by now you have most likely spoken about your children with your new partner quite a bit. Likewise, your partner has probably asked more than a few questions as well!

    Nevertheless, in preparation for the meeting, you should make sure that your partner has a strong handle on your children’s interests and unique personalities. Be sure to keep them updated about the current events of your children’s lives, too, so that any sore spots can be avoided.

    Expectation management

    First-impressions are rarely perfect, and introductions between new partners and children are no different. Yet parents and their partners may feel overwhelming pressure to pull off the meeting without a hitch, and that can make managing expectations difficult.

    While it’s important that these introductions be treated seriously and approached with care, parents and their new partners should not aim for flawlessness. Instead, try to maintain realistic expectations. Keep in mind that these introductions are likely just the first step toward what will hopefully be lifelong connections. There will be many more opportunities for new partners and children to build strong relationships.

    Planning the introductions

    When deciding how to introduce your children to your partner, it’s important that the activity or event be tailored to your child’s personality and needs. To help you assess whether or not an idea would be sensible for your family, ask yourself the following questions.

    Is it age-appropriate? An obvious first question when trying to plan an introduction is whether or not the activity is appropriate for the age of your child. A perfect activity for a pre-teen might be a lackluster choice for an eight-year-old. If you have children of different ages, aim for an activity that would still be engaging for your older children without being overwhelming for their younger siblings.

    Does it have a clear start/end time? Aim to keep first introductions short and sweet. Pick an activity that has a clear beginning and end time so your children are not overwhelmed by the meeting.

    Does it incorporate the interests of the child? First introductions are stressful, so pick an activity that will keep your children engaged and entertained.

    6 perfect activities for partner-child introductions

    Toddlers to Pre-K

    For young children, it’s particularly important that introductory meetings happen in familiar surroundings. Plans also need to be flexible!

    Watch their favourite movie or television show

    Make some popcorn, get comfortable on the couch, and watch a beloved movie or an episode of your child’s favourite show. This activity is perfectly low-key, keeping your child in their comfort zone for a pressure-free first meeting.

    Plan a short outing to their favourite park

    If you’d prefer something more active, a quick trip to your local park may do the trick. Occupied with their favourite slides and swings, children may have an easier time interacting naturally with your new partner.

    Elementary-aged children

    With slightly older children, you can be a little more creative with your planning. However, it’s still important that you plan active events that do not put pressure on your children to have lengthy conversations with your partner. Instead, allow them to get to know each other by actively engaging in a favourite pastime or hobby.

    Go for a nature walk

    If your child is a budding ornithologist or simply appreciates the outdoors, a short walk through a local natural area can be a great choice for introductory meetings. Walks give ample opportunity for short conversations without placing too much pressure on those interactions.

    Play a round of their favourite board game together

    Depending on the season or weather, a nature walk may be neither the most pleasant nor most plausible activity. If you need an indoor option, an afternoon or evening playing board games is a great choice. To prevent competition from souring the mood, look into the many cooperative board game options that are available instead. Working on the same team toward a common goal is a great activity for your child’s first time meeting with your partner.

    Pre-teens and teenagers

    Children in middle school or high school may be better able to handle longer conversations with your partner. Even so, activities that allow for interaction without emphasis on one-on-one conversations are still ideal.

    Dinner and trivia

    A long, sit-down meal may feel like too much for a first meeting. But if your teenager is obsessed with interesting factoids, having dinner while participating in a round of trivia may be the perfect activity for introducing them to your partner. Certain restaurants may even have trivia brunches as well if your child is more of an early-bird.

    Take a trip to the local arcade

    Whether it’s engaging in some friendly competition over four-way Pac-man or cheering each other on in skee-ball, spending a couple hours in your local arcade can give ample opportunity for positive interactions between your partner and your children. Plus, if anyone needs a short break, playing a solo game of pinball can give them a chance to breathe.

    Introducing your partner to your children is a huge step forward, and that can make planning for it absolutely nerve-wracking. It’s important to remain positive and keep things in perspective. This first meeting is just a single interaction in what will hopefully be a lasting relationship filled with great memories. It doesn’t need to go perfectly, as first impressions rarely do. But preparations should still be made, paying extra time and attention to choosing an activity that’s age-appropriate, has clearly defined begin and end times, and takes your child’s interests into account.

    Meeting your significant other’s family is, as we’re sure you know, a huge step in a relationship. It can be a major sign that things are getting serious between you, and either way, it’s their family — you obviously want to make a great first impression. So it’s important to prep, just a little bit, and go over all the things not to do when meeting the family for the first time, because things can get super awkward really quick.

    And if you have social anxiety in general, meeting someone’s family can be extra excruciating.

    But even the coolest and calmest among us are nervous about meeting our S.O.’s family! It’s natural to want to them to like you, especially when you see a future with this person and want to be part of their fam. Everyone will tell you to just “be yourself,” but in these situations, that can be totally confusing advice. Some of us aren’t even our realest selves when we’re around our own parents, so being “yourself” around another person’s family can get tricky.

    Really, it all comes down to behaving with common sense, but when you’re nervous, common sense often goes out the window. Remember how easy Ben Stiller thought it was going to be to meet Robert DeNiro? We don’t want that to happen to you. So, take some time to come up with plan to be as calm as possible for the big day and remember to not do some these things the first time you meet the family.

    1Don’t ignore your partner.

    If your partner tells you something about their family, heed their warnings. They have best insights as to how this whole meeting is likely to go down. Obviously, always be yourself! But if your partner tells you to cool it on politics talk, or that their family is touchy about certain things like cursing, definitely listen to them. You can curtail your F-bomb usage for a weekend.

    This is the first time you’re meeting the family, so it’s just good manners to follow your S.O.’s lead. There will be times to reconcile your personality with their family quirks the longer you’re together. Also, showing your partner that you’re going to follow their lead is a huge way to show them that you totally respect them. It will likely make them less nervous, too.

    2Cool it on the PDA.

    It’s hard to keep your paws off of each other in general, but it might be a good idea to not make out right in front of their little sister or be too grabby in front of grandma. You can put people off with PDA, which is totally their problem and not yours, but it’s probably better to keep some distance the first time around. Giving the fam a visual preview of the stuff you guys do in private is not exactly the coolest way to win brownie points.

    3Don’t be so anxious.

    Now that we’ve made it seem like this is the biggest moment of your life, yes, we’re telling you to calm down. Because it’s really not such a make-or-break moment. You are likely a really awesome person to be around, otherwise your partner wouldn’t want you in their life! So relax and take it easy, even through the awkward silences. If their sisters don’t like you right away, they’ll warm up to you. And if everyone is legitimately a nightmare, you’ll just have great stories to complain to your friends about later.

    4Don’t take things personally.

    It’s likely that your partner is a little nervous, too. So if they’re being a little weird or acting differently, just take it in stride. You can always bring it up later if something was really off or offensive, but don’t bring up any relationship drama at the dinner table the very first time you meet their people. Also, their parents and siblings are likely worried about making a great first impression on you, too, so cut people some slack. It’s like a first date — things will get less weird eventually.

    5Don’t overdo it.

    It’s hard when you’re nervous and there’s an open bar at their cousin’s wedding, but try your best to practice safe drinking habits around their family so you don’t regret anything later. If not for them, do it for your peace of mind later on.

    6Don’t join the fights.

    If your partner’s mom starts talking trash about their ex, do not take the bait and join in. If you stay with this person for a while, you will likely have all the time in the world to learn how to gossip with them and get the dirt on Crazy Aunt Linda, but the first time you meet them is not the time. If gossip is their thing, bring up some celeb everyone can dish on or something else impersonal to bring you closer together. But when it comes to this new family, stay super neutral and don’t take the bait. You want this first meeting with the parents to lead to another time, right? Keep it classy.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    It’s a strange new reality in 2020, where nothing in life is quite the same. And yet, many are attempting to continue in a semblance of what was once considered normal.

    For many, that includes dating but, at some point, once you’ve settled into a new relationship, it’s time to meet each other’s families. That’s just the natural progression of a romance, right?

    Of course, during a time of social distancing, gatherings are most certainly not a good idea, especially with those outside of your household or immediate circle. That means considering the probability of meeting your new partner’s family through other means.

    How to Meet Your Partner’s Family Virtually

    The holidays are the best time to start planning that virtual meeting. And yes, it will be stressful, but when is it not?

    “We can all agree that meeting your significant other’s parents can be intimidating no matter what. But whether you’ve been together a few months or a year, there is simply no manual for how to handle that in a pandemic,” says relationship expert Lauren Peacock, best-selling author of “Female. Likes Cheese. Comes with Dog.: Stories About Divorce, Dating, and Saying “I Do.”

    Forget about a traditional meeting — here’s everything to know about safely meeting your partner’s family for the first time, whether it’s on Zoom, FaceTime, or another video calling app.

    1. Break the ice.

    Who isn’t nervous when meeting their partner’s parents or extended family?

    A computer screen won’t change that. But using humor to break the ice over Zoom (or whatever virtual source you decide to use) can really help to ease the stress of the situation.

    “Showing your vulnerability can allow your human side to show through to your significant other’s parents,” Peacock adds.

    2. Send champagne for the occasion.

    It’s a celebration, after all. So, break the ice with champagne. on ice.

    Consider sending a bottle of champagne with two glasses.

    “We did this for our client who wanted his girlfriend to meet his parents over Zoom,” suggests Bonnie Winston, celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert. “We had the box delivered right before the Zoom call, and said please open the box and pour the champagne.”

    Winston’s client got on the call with his girlfriend and made the introduction. “Choose from Tiffany’s or go to Bed Bath & Beyond. It’s not about the cost, it’s about the fun way to make the introduction,” Winston adds.

    You and your partner should also have full glasses, toasting to getting to know one another.

    3. Be prepared for tech issues.

    There may be a good chance of experiencing technological hiccups, so it’s important to practice patience. Much like you would before any big meeting at work, it’s great to troubleshoot first so there won’t be any issues that day.

    “Take care of the basics on the technical side to ensure that the digital connection will be the best it can be,” says psychologist, sex expert and writer, Antonia Hall. “If you haven’t spent a lot of time connecting with others by video or just feel uncomfortable with digital chats, try a run through with a friend first.”

    4. Get on the same page as your partner.

    Before you meet, ask your partner if there is a certain way you should address their parents.

    “Just because the platform for communication is casual, that doesn’t mean you should be casual, too,” recommends Laurel House, relationship coach and creator of Love Actually Academy.

    Be aware that their parents might not be completely comfortable with technology, so be patient if they are struggling or don’t have a perfect frame. And alt hough their parents might not dress up for the occasion, you absolutely should.

    “Just because their frame isn’t perfect, it doesn’t give you permission to relax with your visual presentation, too,” adds House. “Act as if this is a ‘real’ in-person meeting. Make sure that you have a clean background, because you never know what they might be looking at behind you.”

    Sometimes, the most revealing element about a Zoom meeting has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with your background.

    5. Plan a fun activity.

    If they are interested, suggest an activity, such as drinks, coffee, or a fun game you can play on Zoom. “Your activity might be your background,” says House, who suggests creating a conversation opportunity.

    You can do the Zoom in your garden, sit in front of your Christmas tree, or surround yourself with some of your favorite things. Make it fun and say something like, “I wanted to introduce you to a little more than just my face, so here’s my dog/latest art project/favorite book.” Then, tell them a little bit about it.

    6. Have appropriate conversations.

    When it comes to talking points, just because you’re in the comfort and protection of your home, hidden behind a screen, that shouldn’t mean you drop your conversational guard.

    Get breaking news & relationship advice delivered to your inbox daily!

    You also don’t want to have conversations about anything negative, whether it’s about or how much you’ve been struggling through COVID.

    If the world was normal right now and you were actually sitting across from your partner’s parents in-person, what would you be talking about? Your interests, your career, and your family, most likely.

    Suggests House, “Avoid controversial or polarizing topics like your sex life, your physical attraction to their child, politics, and religion. Talk about what you and your partner bonded on, or what you two have in common, what you admire about them, and what about them makes you smile.”

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share the funniest, most awkward, or most embarrassing thing that happened when they met their partner’s family, and I’m laughing, I’m crying, and I’m cringing like hell:

    1. “I met my Italian ex’s family during a summer in Italy, and I didn’t speak a word of their language. Well, one night, his parents hosted a big dinner party with all of his extended family, and his mom served chicken cotoletta, which is basically breaded, deep-fried chicken breast similar to the Japanese dish chicken katsu.”

    “She asked him to ask me if I liked the food, and I nervously blurted out, ‘Yes, of course — I LOVE katsu!’ And suddenly there was silence, except for the laughter of my ex’s brother, who was the only other person at the table who spoke English. After a pause, my ex leaned over to inform me that ‘katsu’ sounds very similar to ‘cazzo,’ which, in Italian, means PENIS. That’s right, I chose the first family dinner to announce to the whole extended family that I indeed love penis.”

    2. “When I met my boyfriend’s family, they had just gotten a new golden retriever puppy. Well, when my boyfriend and I retired for the night, I changed my underwear because I was on my period — and the new puppy broke into our bedroom the next morning, sniffed out my period panties, and ran away with them!”

    “It was not a fun time when his parents had to hand me back my dirty underwear! I still have trouble looking them in the eyes sometimes.”

    3. “My ex rotated between her place and mine, and she lived with her dad, sister, and grandma. Her grandma hated my guts, and though she didn’t speak English, her disdain for me needed no translation. Well, one night, the bathroom we normally used at her house was broken, so we had to use the main one, where the light wasn’t working. In the middle of the night, I felt a shit coming, so I felt my way down the dark hallway into the dark bathroom. “

    “I pulled my pants down and felt my way to the toilet, when suddenly I grabbed a handful of Grandma’s fleshy thigh! A slew of Cantonese swear words followed, and I was so startled that I apologized profusely, then ran face-first into the doorjamb!”

    4. “My now-husband had warned his family that I hate chocolate before we had dinner at their place. Well, the day of dinner, I had a migraine and was already feeling nauseous when his mom pulled out a pumpkin pie. the only other dessert I hate.”

    “I tried my best to just cover that baby in whipped cream, grin, and bear it. After all, this woman made me dinner AND dessert. But my gag reflex got the best of me, and I wound up bringing it all back up over their toilet! His mom was sweet about it, but now every time I see her, she says, ‘Are you sure you don’t want any pumpkin pie?'”

    5. “My now-husband took me to meet his aunt, uncle, and cousins at a family get-together, and he warned me ahead of time that they like to eat exotic food. Well, when we got there, his aunt asked me, ‘Do you like rabbits?’ but I heard, ‘Do you like rabbit?’ assuming she was talking about eating one. I didn’t want to sound like I was a fussy eater, so I replied, ‘I’ve never eaten it, but I’ll give it a go!’ She was asking if I’d like to see her pet rabbit, who had just had babies.”

    “It’s been a decade, and they still pretend to hide their small animals so that I won’t eat them whenever we visit — and to top that off, they send me a birthday card with a rabbit on it every year!”

    6. “I was 15 when I met my boyfriend’s mom, and we sat down on her bed to talk. Well, I must have gotten my period, because when I stood up, we both immediately saw the bright-red stain on her fresh, white duvet!”

    “She was so kind about it, though.”

    7. “We were at my girlfriend’s parents’ house early in our relationship, and I was explaining to her mom about the app I use to read books on my phone. Well, I opened the folder I’d labeled ‘Entertainment’ to show her the app, and forgot that it was right next to my Pornhub and X Video apps!”

    “She didn’t say anything, but I turned bright red and quickly closed out of that screen.”

    8. “My in-laws live abroad, and their first language is Arabic. We couldn’t travel to them in person, so my husband arranged for me to meet them over FaceTime. Well, my husband had never introduced his family to a partner before, and in his culture that is a BIG deal — so I learned how to say, ‘Hello, I’m called Emma’ in Arabic in order to connect with them.”

    “Well, ‘called’ in Arabic is one letter away from the word ‘fart.’ And I was so nervous that I straight-up introduced myself as, ‘Hello, I’m farting Emma.’ Apparently this story is now told the world over.”

    9. “I’d just met my now-husband’s parents, and we sat down for a lovely dinner. Well, I was telling a story — animatedly — and I sent a full glass of red wine flying all over their pristine cream-and-white house! It hit the tablecloth, the carpet, the walls, the curtains, everything! It looked like a murder scene!”

    “His mother tried her best to hide her horror, but it took her two days of scrubbing to sort everything, and I think she had to throw the tablecloth away. We’ve been together 14 years now, and to this day, his grandmother tells everyone to look out if I’m even near a glass of red wine.”

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    When you’re falling in love, the world often feels no bigger than just the two of you. But the truth is, one of the most important, and sometimes nerve-wracking, next steps in your relationship is to introduce each other to your families.

    Here are a few tips to help the first meeting go more smoothly:

    Dress for success

    Dressing sexy may be why you initially caught your guy’s eye, but when you’re meeting his family, think: classy & covered! The same goes for your legs, so opt for pants or knee-length dresses or skirts that let the focus stay on you and your personality rather than your physical attributes. Try to strike a balance between dressing up and comfort; it’s no fun tugging at uncomfortable clothes! Let the occasion inform your choices, such as a conservative sheath cocktail dress for a formal dinner or a long and loose sundress for a backyard barbecue.

    But skip the jeans, no matter how informal the function – wear slacks instead to signal that you’re making an effort to impress (in darker hues that won’t show stains if your “first-time” nerves make you clumsy). Try to keep any potentially “loud” accessories – such as a big hat or large necklaces – to a minimum. But, do add an ice-breaker accessory to your outfit – such as that bracelet your partner gave you, or a locket featuring photos of your own family – so those initial compliments on your appearance can lead into a casual conversation.

    Give thoughtful gifts

    “It’s the thought that counts,” may sound sweet, but it’s the last thing you want his family to say about any “nice-to-meet-you” gift you give them – because they’d really be saying: “nice try, but you missed the mark.” So skip those catchall options like expensive wine and imported chocolates unless you’re positive they are connoisseurs or chocoholics. Instead, pump your partner for information on the perfect, out-of-the-box present to fit his family’s personality. Wrap up a board game for a family into a friendly competition, or a gourmet snacks basket for foodies.

    Stick to one big gift if you’re meeting the whole family, but if it’s just his parents, opt for personalized presents for both mom and dad that celebrate their favorite pastimes. Just be conscious of how much you’re spending, because a cheap gift is worse than nothing at all, and a too-expensive present says you’re attempting to buy their approval.

    Take an interest

    The most awkward moments of the first-time meeting are those unavoidable conversation lulls that feel never-ending when you’re in them. Instead of stewing in those uncomfortable silences, overcome them by asking questions that delve into his family’s favorite subjects or hobbies. Be sure to ask open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered by “yes” or “no”) and follow up those questions with other questions to show your interest. You can prep yourself to ask pertinent questions by reading up on those topics (even just a little bit!) prior to the introduction.

    This will also familiarize you with any obscure terminology so you can show off your informed, attentive listener skills. For example, ask his gardening mother the best time to plant herbs or his travel-loving father about a specific site from his last trip. Just don’t feign a shared passion if the feeling isn’t mutual – as the insincerity will be obvious. Instead, reciprocate with tidbits about your own interests when the attention turns to you (especially if you can draw a connection between their interests and your own).

    Go with the flow

    So maybe you’re no football fan, but if you’re invited to tailgate at Sunday’s big game, slip on a foam finger and cheer your heart out – because what you’re really doing is celebrating his family. Implement this strategy for any activity that’s not your cup of tea, whether it’s a classical music concert or an all-day fishing trip. His family will appreciate your efforts to try something new, while you’ll be showing off your ability to relax and join in. And don’t stress if you get things wrong: they’ll love you even more if you’re able to laugh at yourself! This approach works for uncomfortable conversations, too.

    Let’s say you and his family are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to touchy subjects like religion and politics. Rather than bristling up (or worse, getting into a debate), simply implement the “go with the flow” mentality by acknowledging and respecting their opinions without agreeing with them. A simple “I see your point” or an “I can respect that” goes a long way to avoid potential conflicts and can work as a transition into safer subjects.

    Follow up

    Once you’ve survived that “meet the family” moment, it’s time to reinforce that positive first impression you made. Strengthen your fledgling foundation within the family by following up the meet-and-greet with a thank you card that includes a “let’s do this again” message. Even if the event didn’t go off without a hitch, making contact to show your appreciation can go a long way to smooth any ruffled feathers.

    Send the thank you within a week, using the form of communication most comfortable for your hosts. For instance, a simple email or a digital thank you card may be just fine for some families, while others might be offended by anything less than a snail mailed paper thank you card. Then, go the extra mile and turn that suggestion of a second get-together into a sure thing by getting it on the calendar within the next month or two.


    About the Author

    Former high school counselor and educator Christine Bartsch has written home, style, relationship, travel, education and entertainment content for publications including Prestwick Press, USAToday and “The Tyra Banks Show.” Bartsch earned her BFA in psychology and interpersonal communication from Wisconsin Lutheran College and a creative writing MFA from Spalding University. She’s also written scripts for film/television productions and worked as the senior writer at a video game company.

    Welcome to A Millennial's Dating Diary series, where we explore real-life interactions and the hurdles of dating in Southeast Asia. The series will feature the dating stories and misadventures of Arika – a 26-year-old, straight female marketing manager with a penchant for over drinking — and fellow millennials.

    For many people – myself included — introducing someone you’re seeing to friends is a big deal.

    Whether I’m introducing my friends to the guy I’m seeing or vice versa, I tend to think it’s a nerve-wracking process.

    For me, introducing someone, I’m seeing to my friends indicates that I think highly enough of them to want to even include them into the inner sanctum of my social life.

    I know for a fact that once I’ve acquainted the guy I’m seeing to my friends, they’ll automatically assume he’s going to be my plus one to every single event, and will be inclusive of him in our future plans.

    My usual practice? I’m only introducing the guy I’m seeing after about four months of dating, and usually only if they’re equally interested in meeting my friends.

    I try not to introduce someone I’m seeing to my friends too quickly because I don’t want my friend’s opinions to influence how I see someone.

    So imagine my surprise when the guy I’m seeing decided to introduce me to his family after less than five months of dating — of which most were non-exclusive.

    While I had met his friends before, meeting his family, this quickly felt like an entirely different ballgame.

    I decided to pose this question to my friend group.

    “I usually wait for a month to introduce someone to my friends and maybe like three months of exclusive dating but, we need to have at least spoken about meeting each other’s friends first. With family, it’s totally different, we’d need to be stable enough, and sometimes there’s just no timeline for that. It’s a feeling,” says my friend *Mia, 29. Mia’s been married for almost three years and recalled that she had the conversation about meeting friends with her partner just to make sure they were on the same page.

    “I try not to introduce someone I’m seeing to my friends too quickly because I don’t want my friend’s opinions to influence how I see someone. I’d like to try and protect my relationship with this person first and get a proper rhythm going with them before allowing others to see us together formally,” my friend, *Tabitha, 28.

    In some ways, I relate to Tabitha’s point of view and completely understand where she’s coming from. However, when the relationship is still so new, you’re more susceptible to influence and opinions from others who might not be in the relationship.

    Back to my situation, we had only decided to be exclusive perhaps two weeks prior to him introducing me to his parents.

    I had the pleasure of meeting his family via video call before flying halfway around the world to see them in Europe. In our call with his family, his mom’s eyes practically lit up when he told her we’d become exclusive.

    Immediately, I felt some sort of panic. I could feel my avoidant attachment style coming out, and I started to question whether we truly were that serious.

    To be fair, I’d usually let the guys I’m seeing meet my family only after about a year or so of dating, and so far, my family has only met one guy in all my years of existence. So for me, it’s paramount that I feel good enough about my relationship with this person to introduce them to my family. I mean, I need to at least solidify that this relationship isn’t going to be a fleeting affair.

    “One year? Are you insane? What if the relationship ends before the year?” asked my friend *Mandy, 28.

    “I mean, at least that’s how I know this relationship is worth it if it lasts more than one year!” I responded.

    As it stands right now, my relationship isn’t at its most stable point yet, so meeting his parents or having him meet my family feels like a lot to take in for me. Plus, as we’re transitioning from dating casually to something more exclusive, I’ve had to deal with some teething issues relating to jealousy and past girls.

    Needless to say, all of these emotions have been doing my head in a bit. From feeling a sense of adoration every time I see a baby photo of him from his grandma, to feeling like this relationship is going way too fast, I’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster ride.

    Still, I know this relationship is something I want to work on, and while it might take some effort, it might just be worth it.

    As with meeting my family, I haven’t quite decided if inviting him to the upcoming New Year’s Eve family event will happen yet, but we’ll see how it goes.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    Gifts for your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s parents will always be appreciated. Whether they will be used is a different story, as that depends on their personal tastes. If their son or daughter cannot be specific when recommending something to you, or you have not found out enough about them to guess what they would like, don’t stress about it. Get any one of these gifts when meeting parents for the first time and keep in mind that they will know it is the thought that counts.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

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    Should you bring gifts when meeting parents?

    Of course, gifts are not obligatory, and neither should they be. They just show that you went that extra mile. However, do not feel like you need to spend your last dime on a gift for your partner’s parents when meeting them for the first time. They are more likely to remember their first conversation with you than what you brought to their home as a gift when they met you for the first time.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    If you are from different cultural backgrounds, be sure to check that there are no items that represent bad luck or would in any way be a no-no for his parents. For example, some cultures would be offended to receive a clock as that would signify calling them to their deaths.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    Meeting the parents for the first time: 7 Items You Can Bring

    1. A bottle of wine

    Or any other alcohol that you reckon they might enjoy. Do some digging and find out from your boyfriend or girlfriend what sort of alcohol (if any!) their parents usually enjoy or prefer. If you can afford to, try to make sure it is not too low-priced.

    2. A bouquet of flowers

    Yes, these will mean more if your boyfriend can tell you beforehand what kinds of flowers his parents love. However, any bunch of flowers that you take with you will be a beautiful gesture. Go for low maintenance flowers that will last at least a few days such as peonies, daffodils or hydrangeas.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    3. A gift card for a restaurant

    This should ideally be a restaurant that is not too far away from them. Bonus points if you have managed to get some information from your boyfriend or girlfriend and you know for sure which restaurant is their favourite! They will think and speak of you when they use that gift card and hopefully it will be good thoughts and conversation only!

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

    4. A fruit basket

    This is a lovely but also safe choice. How could you really go wrong with an assortment of fruit? No matter how picky a person is, there are two or three fruits that they will certainly enjoy. A fruit basket is a healthy option and if it is a quality selection of fruits, they will last at least a few days. Also, the basket is re-useable!

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

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    5. A hometown souvenir

    If you are from a different cultural background, city or country, for example, bringing an item that reflects where you are from is a gesture that says you are open to telling them anything about yourself that they would like to know. It is also an excellent conversation starter. It could be anything from a little fridge magnet to an edible product of your hometown, home state or home country.

    6. A baked dessert

    Who does not love a heavenly (ideally warm) pastry of some sort? Even a simple slice of decadent cake. Don’t panic. You do not have to get out your cookbooks or log on to YouTube to learn how to bake a cake quickly. If you are not a dab hand with baking, go to someone who is. A friend, your mom, or a bakery! The point is to have that baked good that tastes absolutely amazing. There will be no need to go into details about where it came from.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

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    7. Tea

    This could be either a single pack of great quality tea or a collection of teas. Teas are another safe option if you cannot begin to guess what your partner’s parents might like because even if they don’t have it themselves, it will never go to waste. They can always offer it to their guests. See my post here of some wonderful tea gift basket options:

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    To conclude

    I really want to say again that you should not get stressed out by the decision of what to take with you. Your physical appearance is your starting point for making a great impression. Dress like the meeting is important enough to you. Be yourself. Let them see the real you and they will like you when they understand why their son or daughter likes you.

    What sorts of gifts do you think are good ideas for when you are meeting parents for the first time?

    The holidays are upon us, and for many couples, it’s the time we all look forward to and dread at the same time: meeting the parents. If your partner is ready to take you home to meet their family for the first time and you’re basically crapping your pants with anxiety about the situation, relax. You’re amazing! That alone should be enough to make your partner’s family love you, but if it’s not, here are a few extra tips.

    Bring a little gift.
    How to meet your partner's family for the first time
    While you shouldn’t have to butter anyone up to make them like you, bringing along a little gift when you meet your partner’s loved ones for the first time goes a long way. You can either think up something yourself if you’re creative in that way, or even ask your partner for tips. Do his parents like a certain kind of wine? Are they lovers of fancy chocolates? It doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) anything extravagant or over-the-top, just a little token to show you appreciate them hosting you.

    Show an interest in them.
    How to meet your partner's family for the first time
    You’re dating your partner, not his parents, but if you want to make his family love you, you need to show some interest in them as people too. That shouldn’t be too hard, particularly if they do something cool as a profession or have some great life experiences they like to share around the dinner table. Show them that you care about getting to know them as well and you’ll be golden.

    Keep the PDA to the bare minimum.
    How to meet your partner's family for the first time
    It’s great that you and your partner are so in love, but your first time meeting the parents isn’t the time to be hanging all over each other, kissing and holding hands and generally doing things that are better left for when you’re alone. Be respectful. You’re in mixed company.

    Don’t criticize your partner in front of them.
    How to meet your partner's family for the first time
    Your partner’s parents are always going to consider your partner to be the apple of their eye, so they won’t take kindly to you talking them down or criticizing them in any way. Sure, they should know your partner isn’t perfect, but you’ll never make your partner’s family love you if you’re tearing them down. Why would you want to do that anyway?

    Offer to help out.
    How to meet your partner's family for the first time
    If they’ve made dinner or hosted you for another social event, there’s no better way to endear yourself to them than by offering to help clean up. Whether that’s doing dishes, taking the trash out, or wiping down surfaces, pitching in as if you’re part of the family is way more likely to make you part of the family, if you know what I mean.

    Be your normal charming self.
    How to meet your partner's family for the first time
    At the end of the day, your partner fell for you for a reason, so you already have that going for you. Be yourself and show off all the wonderful qualities that drew your partner to you in the first place and you’re sure to be in with their family as well.

    The best dating/relationships advice on the web – Sponsored If you’re reading this, check out Relationship Hero, a site where highly trained relationship coaches get you, get your situation, and help you accomplish what you want. They help you through complicated and difficult love situations like deciphering mixed signals, getting over a breakup, or anything else you’re worried about. You immediately connect with an awesome coach on text or over the phone in minutes. Just click here…

    This article was co-authored by Alexandra Janelli. Alexandra Janelli is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Anxiety and Stress Management Coach, and owner and founder of Modrn Sanctuary, a holistic health and wellness facility in New York, New York. With over 10 years of experience, Alexandra specializes in helping clients push through their roadblocks to achieve their goals by utilizing her hypnotherapeutic-based approach. Alexandra holds a BS from the University of Miami. She graduated from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute with an Advanced Training Graduate Diploma in Hypnotherapy and Handwriting Analysis. Alexandra is also a Certified Life Coach from the iPEC Coach Training Program. She has worked with Academy Award Nominee Actors, world-renowned photographers, singers, top-level executives, and professionals across many sectors of business. Alexandra has been featured on MTV, Elle Magazine, Oprah Magazine, Men’s Fitness, Swell City Guide, Dossier Journal, The New Yorker, and Time Out Chicago.

    There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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    Your social anxiety may be triggered just by thought of going to your partner’s next family gathering. To manage these feelings and communicate effectively, make sure to talk openly with your partner about your social anxiety and situations that may trigger your anxious feelings. Focus on ways to make the social situation less about you, and more about getting to know other people. Regardless of how the event goes, it’s important to take care of yourself and feel more in control of your anxiety.

    How to meet your partner's family for the first time

    When my oldest cousin Laura brought her then boyfriend (now husband) to Christmas Eve dinner for the first time, we sat him down, gathered around the table and each wrote our “yes” or “no” vote down on paper to determine whether or not he was worthy of dating her. We put them all into a hat and read out the answers one by one — to his face.

    This has since become a Christmas tradition in our family, and as such, has deterred me from ever jumping the gun on introducing a significant other to my family unless I’m absolutely sure he’s worth it.

    But even if your family isn’t as intense as mine, figuring out the right time to introduce your love interest to your family and friends is never easy. Doing it too soon could be off-putting; doing it too late can make the person you’re with feel like you’re not that serious about your relationship. Not doing it at all? That’s what we call pocketing.

    Pocketing goes beyond avoiding the dreaded meet the parents moment. As psychologist and life coach Ana Jovanovic explains, you’re hidden from view in virtually all aspects. “Pocketing is a situation where a person you’re dating avoids or hesitates to introduce you to their friends, family or other people they know, in-person or on social media, even though you’ve been going out for a while. Your relationship seems non-existent to the public eye,” she says.

    It can be a tricky thing to detect, but as Rachel Perlstein, licensed clinical social worker practicing in New York and Los Angeles, points out, one key difference between waiting for the right time and being pocketed is transparency.

    “When you are focused on building a relationship with a new partner, your intention is usually to wait until you know the person well enough on an individual basis, and like them enough to decide you want to bring this person into your social and familial life,” she says. “Pacing and awaiting the right time to offer an introduction is truly about bringing you and partner closer. Pocketing comes with the intention of hiding away the person you’re dating. Oftentimes the pocketer does not want their partner to meet friends and family; it’s a way of creating space and distance in the relationship.”