There’s one thing that sends shivers down the spines of humans, no matter what: meeting your S/O’s parents for the first time. The pressure can be especially daunting if you’re a male and you have to meet the daddy behind daddy’s little girl, usually a huge beefed up guy who likes to be funny by scaring you the whole time. Here are some ways to help break the tension for that first family dinner.
Bring A Little Something
Showing up with a tiny housewarming gift, whether it’s a bottle of wine or some quirky place mats, shows that you’re at least trying to be pleasant and respectful. Plus, it’s not mandatory, so you gain brownie points for going out of your way to please the in-laws.
Your partner’s parents might not notice if you wear a nice formal button down or a silk dress, but they will definitely notice if you show up in jeans and a baggy sweater. Even if it’s not a formal dinner at a restaurant, it doesn’t hurt to don some of your nicer apparel.
Look For Things To Compliment
If you have no taste in designer furniture, maybe don’t tell them that they have a lovely divan. But if you’re all about cuisine and love to cook, take the opportunity to indulge them in how great the dinner is. (Even if you don’t like it. Politeness is KEY).
Find Some Common Ground With Everyone, Even Siblings
It’s good to go into the night knowing some of the likes of the family members, such as the mom’s crocheting habits or the little brother’s love of fantasy baseball. Even if you’re no expert, giving them a platform to talk about what they like is a good way to win anyone over, especially if it’s sincere.
Shine Your Bae’s Shoes
Parents love hearing about how great their child is. Don’t miss the opportunity to gush about how you love your partner’s traits, and how they must have gotten them from the parents. This is what we call a win-win situation. Just be careful not to overplay it, lest you come across as a try-hard.
Keep It G-Rated
Sometimes your s/o might try to steal a smooch here and there, which is totally fine. But you don’t want to come across with too much gross PDA, especially if you’re a guy. Her dad needs to think that you two sleep in different beds, only shake hands before going to sleep, and are celibate for life.
After dinner, use the opportunity to help clean. I’ve found that offering help usually gets turned down, so instead, don’t ask, just start collecting plates quietly or wiping things down. Almost every time this has thoroughly impressed the parents, and reflects well in my upbringing. Again, proceed with caution to avoid seeming like a suck-up.
Improvise. Overcome. Adapt.
There might be some traditions or things that occur that are alien to you, like saying grace before eating, or going to bed early. If you’re in their house, respect and adhere to their rules, whether you comply with them on a personal level or not. Flexibility and reverence for tradition are sure to make them love you.