9 tips to prepare for meeting your partner’s parents

Meeting your partner’s parents is exciting. I’m afraid to say or do something wrong and ruin my impression of myself. In addition, you want to avoid awkward silences or topics that could upset the family. Psychologists answer how to avoid falling flat on your face. 

Tip 1. Take your time

Psychotherapist Jean Fitzpatrick advises : both partners should be prepared to meet their family. If your lover suggests having dinner with your parents, but the idea bothers you, think about why. Are you afraid of creating the wrong impression? Or do you feel like it’s too early to get to know each other? If your experiences are disturbing you greatly, you should talk about your feelings with your partner. 

There is no single norm when it is better to get to know your parents. According to family psychologist Jamie Bronshtnein, each relationship has its own rules and it is better to start from your own feelings. In addition, it all depends on the circumstances: a year in a long-distance relationship can be very different from a year when partners spend almost every day with each other. 

In general, experts advise not to rush things. Clinical psychologist Wyatt Fisher recommends waiting at least three months from the start of the relationship. By this time, partners usually get used to each other and can assess whether their couple has potential. 

Tip 2. Find out a little more about your partner’s parents 

You don’t have to dig up all your family history. Jean Fitzptrick says to make sure you know the important details. For example, do you remember their middle names correctly? If you’re going to invite your family over for dinner, ask your partner if your parents have any allergies or what they definitely don’t eat. Your lover can also tell you which topics should be discussed at the meeting and which ones should be avoided. 

Tip 3. Don’t worry too much about clothes

You don’t have to go through your closet all day looking for the right shirt. It’s better to wear what you feel comfortable in. Most likely, you will already be worried, and unusual clothes will only add even more inconvenience. It is worth considering the location where the meeting will take place. For example, if you have a reservation at a restaurant, short shorts are best left for another occasion.

Tip 4. Don’t be afraid to be yourself

At the meeting, you want to show the best version of yourself and please your partner’s family. But according to Jean Fitzpatrick, the right tactic is to be honest. Tell us about your hobbies, interests, life goals, childhood. Avoid lies. For example, you should not embellish your career achievements. Pretending for a long time is tiring, and if your partner’s parents later find out that you lied, the level of trust may drop.

Tip 5. Avoid dangerous topics

Relationship coach Asha Still suggests avoiding topics that might spark an emotional discussion. Especially if you know that your beliefs do not coincide with the beliefs of your partner’s parents. 

Topics that should not be discussed: 

  • Policy
  • Intimacy
  • Religion
  • Previous relationships 
  • Big news that people react to differently

It’s better to get to know your partner’s parents from a personal perspective. You can ask about their hobbies, work, or how they met. Don’t be shy to ask questions yourself – this will show interest.

If you are being taken away from the topic of conversation, it is better to listen and not insist on your own. For example, a partner’s parents may not want to talk about their acquaintance. In this case, there is no need to dig deeper. Asha Still explains: You can push people away. It’s better to take the conversation in a different direction.

Tip 6: Bring a small gift if you like.

Baking or dessert for dinner is the most versatile option. Etiquette teacher Mika Meyer warns that alcohol is not the best choice unless you know your parents’ preferences. It’s better to find out from your partner what kind of gift the family will definitely like. 

Tip 7. Don’t be on your phone

Don’t text at the table or constantly look at your phone. Parents may perceive this as rudeness. According to psychologist Anna Nikolides, during a conversation it is better to look at the interlocutor and put the phone away completely. The specialist believes that people like good listeners much more.

Tip 8: Offer to help

You can clear the table or wash the dishes when dinner is over. This can win people over, even if the family refuses help. In addition, in private, while you are busy doing something together, you and your partner’s parents can get to know each other better.

Tip 9. Remember, it’s normal for your partner’s family not to like you

Of course, everyone wants their relationship with their partner’s family to work out in the best possible way. However, this does not always happen, and it may not be that you presented yourself poorly. According to Jamie Bronstein, parents don’t always approve of their child’s partner.

Don’t let a bad date dictate the rules of your relationship. Be polite, but still don’t let your parents interfere with your relationship. A good option is to set boundaries and figure out what is acceptable in your communication and what is not. Be careful but firm.

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