Here’s the situation: you met someone awesome online and things are going swimmingly. Now that the holiday season is upon us, they’ve invited you to meet their parents. While you’re generally a confident, socially well-adapted person, just the thought of meeting the ‘fam is enough to make you sweat right through your holiday sweater.
It’s OK. I get it. Meeting your partner’s family for the first time can be totally nerve wracking. The good news is that there are certain things you can do ahead of time to help calm your nerves.
Meeting the ‘rents for the first time? Here are a few tips.
1. Treat yourself to a little pampering before the big meet.
I’m always way more relaxed and confident when I know I look and feel my best. If you’ve been putting off getting your hair trimmed or scheduling that manicure, now is the perfect excuse to make those things happen. Alternatively, if picking up a new shirt or blazer is going to give you that little boost of confidence, it’s OK to splurge. You’re still going to be a little nervous, but at least you’ll feel like you’re showing off your best self.
2. Know where you stand with your relationship.
Have you had “the talk”? Are you guys exclusive? If you’re meeting the parents, it’s easy to assume that you’re dating exclusively, however that’s not necessarily a given. If you haven’t DTR’ed (determined the relationship), now’s the time to have that talk. You’re going to feel so much more confident and secure meeting your date’s parents, knowing you’re both on the same page when it comes to your relationship.
3. Don’t go in blind.
Learn about your date’s parents before you meet them. What are they into? For example, maybe your date’s parents are really into golf or love it when new people ask them about their travels. These are little tidbits that you can use to jump-start conversation.
Additionally, ask your date if there are any potential conflicts you should be aware of. For example, maybe your date’s parents voted for someone you don’t agree with or have mixed feelings about interracial relationships. In theory, your date should be the one who brings these things up. However, if they don’t mention anything, it never hurts to ask so you can mitigate any potential awkwardness.
4. Don’t show up empty handed.
I don’t know about you guys, but I feel so much better walking into unchartered territory when I’ve got a nice bottle of wine to give as a gift. Find out what your date’s parents like and bring that thing. When you see them smile at your gift of wine/whiskey/a giant tin of popcorn, your nerves will melt away.
5. Make it all about them.
One of the things that freaks people out about meeting someone’s family is the fear that it will be like an interrogation and all focus will be on them. While your date’s family will surely have questions for you, this is a great opportunity to flip the script and learn more about them. Ask them about the things they love, the places they’ve been and what your date was like as a child. Making it all about them will make them feel special and cared for while taking the focus off you.
6. Give yourself a pep-talk.
Never underestimate the power of a good pep talk. Channel your inner Jack Donaghy:
Remind yourself that you’re an adult human capable of meeting new people without inciting imminent disaster. You’re smart enough, nice enough and good-looking and gosh darn-it, you’ve totally got this.