You’ve been invited to meet your girlfriend’s parents. You got incredibly lucky by having such a sweet and loving girlfriend, and you’re hoping her parents will feel the same way about you as she does.
By knowing how to prepare for this important occasion, as well as what you should say and do, you’ll leave their house knowing you impressed them. Read on to find out how you can be Mr. Right.
DO: Learn about her parents beforehand.
DON’T: Go in with no briefing.
We spend a decent amount of time preparing for job interviews—looking up facts about the company, learning about the people you might meet and searching for clues about the work environment. Before you meet her parents, treat it like you’re preparing for an interview.
Of course, don’t take it too seriously. After all, you have a great girlfriend and she’s taking a further step by introducing you to her family.
What kinds of research goes into this preparation? Ask your girlfriend what you should know about her parents. What’s their line of work? Are they strict or easygoing? What do they like to see in their daughter’s boyfriend?
Questions like these will help you have topics of conversation with her parents. It can also help you decide whether or not to reveal certain facts about yourself—even though you’re probably not that bad—and whether you’ll have some common ground.
DO: Dress appropriately.
DON’T: Wear your favorite sweatpants from middle school.
You could be the nicest guy in the world. A total melt-in-your-mouth, ooey-gooey sweetheart. However, if you show up to dinner in the ripped T-shirt you wear at the gym or your coziest pajama pants, you’re going to run into trouble.
Whether we like it or not, we get judged for what we wear every day. While this may not bother you on a normal day, you’ll be in front of her parents. You’re trying to impress them. Dressing cleanly and properly is the best way to do this.
DO: Bring a gift with you.
DON’T: Come empty-handed.
Whether it’s Christmas, Thanksgiving or not even a holiday at all, you need to arrive with something for the parents. Flowers never fail to impress, and they work for all occasions.
When bringing anything else, however, consider what your girlfriend told you about her parents. A bottle of wine is usually a safe bet, but not if one of them is a recovering alcoholic. Hey, if you can cook, by all means bring something! Just make sure the parents aren’t allergic—and please, don’t try anything risky.
DO: Harness the power of small talk.
DON’T: Talk about your religious and political views or anything else that might get fine china thrown at your head.
Should you be the one who initiates conversation, or the one who waits to be talked to? Sometimes it’s hard to decide. However, any parental situation will likely involve small talk.
Whether you ask the parents questions or they ask you, it’s best to put yourself out there. Talk about yourself—politely—so they can get to know you better, but direct the conversation back to them.
One thing that comes in handy is bringing up something your girlfriend told you about her parents. For example, if your girlfriend told you her dad owns a software company, you can ask him what his company does. You may be able to find common ground if you work in construction, and can discuss the ways that software has impacted your industry or saved on fuel costs.
Look for common ground away from your jobs, too. You might have similar interests and hobbies, or a passion for the same TV series.
There are some basic rules of conversation that should be followed here, as well: Don’t interrupt her parents, don’t swear and most importantly, avoid controversial topics like the plague!
DO: Leave a good impression.
DON’T: Be so bland that you fall off the face of the Earth.
You don’t get a second chance. Really. No matter how many times you may show up after first meeting her parents, they’ll always remember you as they first saw you. Aim to be the perfect boyfriend. Be the guy that checks off all their mental expectations.
Praise is always a great way to gain some brownie points. Compliment their house, the food they make and even compliment your girlfriend in front of them. These are sweet gestures that are definitely noted—but shouldn’t be overdone. If you’re constantly complimenting, they might get a little suspicious.
Along with remaining engaged in conversation, another way to make a good impression is to speak clearly. Hide your nervousness and make sure you come across as confident, even if you feel far from it.
Leave with a heartfelt goodbye. Tell them it was a pleasure meeting them. A firm handshake is perfect for both parents, but if mom wants to give you a hug, by all means give her a good one!
By following these tips, you’ll leave a great first impression on her parents.