The first time my parents met my boyfriend (now husband) was a complete comedy of errors.
The meeting took place over brunch at a Perkins, and everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong.
Highlights include the waitress asking us to move to a new table after we’d already sat down and started to order (I can’t remember why). She also interrupted us by saying “I’m going to join in this conversation!” as my dad was giving my boyfriend the “If you hurt her, I’ll hurt you” speech. She didn’t want actually want to join the conversation. She just wanted to say that one of the things we’d ordered wasn’t available.
Add that to the fact that I’d sent my parents, with whom I was extremely close, an email of all things to let them know I had my first boyfriend, and it was a total, tension-filled disaster.
The holiday season is fast approaching, and maybe you’re bringing your significant other to meet your family for the first time. Perhaps the two of you met through an online dating site and this is the big moment to introduce everyone to each other.
If so, here are some things you can do to learn from my mistakes.
1. Try not to be nervous
I know, that’s like trying not to let the sky be blue. But seriously, being nervous is only going to make things more awkward. Your significant other will already be nervous enough for the both of you, so your job is to focus on helping him or her through any awkward situations.
Whenever I’m in a situation I’m dreading, I always picture the moment I get to be back in the car driving home. Just reminding myself that it will eventually be over helps to put things into perspective.
Take a deep breath. Maybe listen to some positive music on the drive over. Remember that all of the people gathered love you and have that in common.
2. Remember that you should respect your family, but you don’t always have to agree with them
I’m sure one of the things you’re worried about is whether or not your family will like your significant other. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t really matter.
Now let me throw in this caveat that you should absolutely listen to their fears. They can see your relationship from the outside, and they know you. If they are afraid for your safety or happiness, you should absolutely listen and give attention to their fears.
But if they don’t like him or her because of a particular quality or slight disagreement in taste, then just move past it. You are the best judge of your own happiness, and your family will eventually come around.
3. Prepare some conversation topics ahead of time
Your significant other is going to be fully occupied with trying to appear normal, so your job is to help supply conversation.
Think about ways you can highlight your significant other’s great qualities and get him or her to talk
Some conversation topics that can be prepared ahead of time include your significant other’s field or recent accomplishments, favorite sports teams that both families share, or even leading facts like childhood, education, etc.
4. “Introduce” your family by telling stories about them.
Is there anything your significant other should know before you introduce them to your family? Maybe there is family tension he or she should be aware of. Are you a shoes on or off in the house type family? How should he or she address your parents? Even occupations, likes and dislikes, and general family organization can be really helpful.
Also, don’t expect your significant other to remember people’s names. Make sure to always take the initiative of introducing him or her to each person instead of leaving them to their own devices.
You can illustrate a generous love for your significant other by playing hostess even if the meeting isn’t in your own home.
5. Make the introduction in a comfortable place
My boyfriend actually first met my parents outside the chapel after Mass before we went to brunch. It was crowded, we couldn’t hear very well, and I had to abandon him for a few minutes to grab my bag approximately ten seconds after I introduced everyone.
Don’t do what I did.
Try to meet in a neutral place (maybe even your own home so you can set the mood from the beginning) with as few distractions as possible.
Consider a more casual atmosphere than formal to ease nerves. And make sure it is in a place where conversation can be heard easily and thrive.
6. Don’t forget to laugh
The numerous interruptions and hiccups of our first meal together definitely broke the ice and made an incredibly awkward situation much more bearable.
Something is going to go wrong. Your significant other will probably bring up a rival team or a long-held family tradition. Or he’ll stumble and break your mom’s favorite pie dish that he was bringing to the sink to try and be helpful.Or she’ll get sick in the middle of dinner.
In addition to the comedies above, ours was when my husband, who is extremely shy, finally piped up to speak. That’s was right when my mom decided to start saying grace before we ate.
You can’t control everything. So make sure you laugh about it.
7. Remember that you’re creating memories you won’t forget
When my husband eventually proposed, he first went to my parents’ house to ask for my hand and brought them a Perkins gift card, quipping that he’d let them just enjoy their meal this time and take care of the awkward part at home.
If the person you’re with is “the one,” then you’ll remember this moment of meeting for a while as the time when really important people in your life first met.
Don’t let a little awkwardness ruin a beautiful moment!