Q: Me and my girlfriend have been dating for a few months, when is the right time to meet her parents?
You and your girlfriend have been dating for a solid amount of time; it’s not like your wedding is just around the corner, but you also aren’t fresh off your first date. You both have had time to get to know each other and figure out how your dynamic works.
My advice, right off the bat, is don’t force meeting the parents. If it happens, it happens. Let things transpire naturally. You don’t want to avoid meeting them, that’s an automatic red flag, but you also shouldn’t feel forced to meet them. If you’re sending out a google calendar invite to her parents for dinner this weekend, stop it. Get some help.
Do what you are comfortable with. If it’s only been a month and you feel like you want more time before you meet her parents, express that to her. If it’s been years and you still don’t want to meet her parents, well then there might be some other issues going on. Email me separately, and we can get coffee and chat about it.
Another thing to remember is don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Yes, this is an important moment, but how well the interaction with the parents goes does not determine if you guys will break up or not. First impressions are important, but they are not the end-all-be-all of social interactions. Even if things don’t go amazing the first time you meet her parents, there will be plenty of other times to establish a good connection with them.
If you’re usually loud and crack jokes, don’t try to be quiet and stifle that inner comedian in your brain. If you’re usually quiet and like to sit back and observe, don’t feel the need to be this entertainer for her parents. There’s no point in meeting her parents if you’re just going to put on a mask and act like somebody else.
It’s a given you should still be respectful: chew with your mouth closed, say please and thank you, don’t interrupt, and for the love of God do not burp in front of either her mom or dad. (This goes for any male on this campus, if I hear from your significant other that you passed gas –from the top or bottom half of your body – at a dinner with her parents, you will be sorry.)
You should be polite but also remain your true, genuine self. Don’t try to impress her dad with random facts about Tesla stock or feign interest in her mom’s candle making business. That’s tacky and fake, and parents can see right through inauthenticity; it’s like they have a sixth sense or something – especially moms. Moms are the best judges of character. Just remember to act like yourself, and if you do, things should work out. Now if your genuine self is a scumbag, then don’t heed any of this advice and just fake it until you make it (and maybe go talk to someone about getting those issues fixed).
It’s important to think about the situation from her perspective as well. You’re her boyfriend, and she cares about you. Her parents, depending on their relationship — and it’s different for everyone — probably mean a lot to her as well. She wants them to like you and you to like them. She’s under a lot of pressure in hoping that things go smoothly. Make sure you are emotionally supportive of her for the entire night. Make a deliberate and conscious effort to be there for her, and in doing so, her parents will appreciate that their daughter is dating a man that cares for her in this way.
Let me warn you right here, right now: throwing in the parents complicates matters no matter what. Even if you just meet them via facetime for a brief second or sit down to a five course meal, things are going to be different. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just something to be aware of. And when push comes to shove, remember that it is always crucial to communicate with your girlfriend. You two are in it together. You should be there for her as much as she should be there for you, and in order to accomplish that effectively, you need to have an open line of healthy communication.
As always, feel free to submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org to possibly be featured in the next installation of Stupid Cupid. Thanks for reading.
Written By: Brennan Ernst