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5 Things Your Significant Other Should Know Before Meeting Your Family

So you’re ready to meet each other’s families for the first time.

You probably already know what a big deal this is. Knock it out of the park, and you’re set up for years of pleasant get-togethers. Strike out, and you’ve got some damage control to look forward to. After all, there’s a reason meeting the parents is such a classic trope for sitcoms and rom-coms.


There’s a lot of pressure to make a great impression, but this can be challenging since every family has its own unique dynamic, quirks and rules. Before you bring your beloved home to meet your family, here’s a quick rundown of what he or she should know before you two exchange wedding bands sets.

1. Do your homework.

Start off on the right foot by asking your partner for an insider’s perspective on the family. What overall background should you know? Are there any sensitive subjects you should avoid? Any topics you should know more about? Get all the info you can – her parents’ work, her siblings’ school, her favorite cousin’s hobbies – and brainstorm a few conversation starters to fill awkward silences.

2. Show genuine interest.

Here’s where all your research comes in handy. Find common ground on topics you can discuss with his family members – and when in doubt, ask questions. If Dad is an avid birdwatcher who loves to travel, ask about trips he’s taken and what destinations are on his bucket list. If Mom runs her own small business, ask about her current projects and what she’s learned from being an entrepreneur. Be a good active listener: give good non-verbal cues that you’re interested, and don’t interrupt. This is a simple but effective way to show you’re engaged in what the other person is saying, and you are immediately perceived as more friendly and likeable.

3. Be the best version of yourself.

Think of meeting your significant other’s family as a slightly more relaxed job interview. You want to impress them, but you don’t want to come off as a robot with no personality. Dress nicely, taking your style up a few notches from what you’d wear out with friends. Use the rules you’d apply to chatting with your own grandparents or relations you don’t know well – be warm and polite, avoid cursing, and stay away from controversial topics like politics or religion if possible.


4. Pay attention to their cues.

Some families are casual and low-key, and the parents will insist you call them by their first names right away. Others are more traditional and appreciate formality until you’ve established your place in the family. Err on the side of politeness, and adapt as you go. Defer to the house rules, and follow your partner’s lead. If you’re staying over and you’re expected to stay in separate rooms, do so without comment. Go with the flow, and recognize you’re a newcomer. If things get tense or uncomfortable, pretend you’re an anthropologist studying the ways of a foreign people. Take notes, sit out any family drama and try not to take anything personally.

5. Be courteous and considerate.

Most parents simply want their children to find partners who will treat them well and make them happy. Demonstrate from the beginning that you are that person, through how you interact with everyone around you. Be considerate and respectful toward your partner in front of her family. If you’re visiting their home, bring a small gift – a bottle of wine or flowers – when you arrive. Offer to help prepare or clean up after the meal. Even if they decline, you’ll win points for asking. Give honest compliments freely – about the house, the food, the neighborhood. Write a short thank-you note afterward – it’s simple and old-fashioned and always appreciated.

Follow this advice, and you’ll be well on your way to calling your future in-laws Mom and Dad!


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