Meeting the Family: Nervous Butterflies and First Impressions
Last night I met my brother’s new girlfriend for the first time. My parents, my husband and I were all excited that he found someone, (someone nice we all hoped). Well his new girlfriend didn’t disappoint and gave a pretty good first impression. I remember thinking that I didn’t envy being in her position – being the new kid on the block. It’s like high school all over again with the nervous butterflies and worries about whether people will like you, all while trying to show the best possible ‘you’ you can.
But as any relationship that is about to get serious demands, we all have to experience the dreaded first encounter with the family sooner or later. When we first meet that special someone, we often forget about this other part of their lives – their loving, crazy, and perhaps dysfunctional family. I always find it interesting when you meet someone’s family to see just how similar or completely different they are from the rest of their brood.
The Importance of Getting Along
Unless you live far, far away from your in-laws and only see them once a year to cut the turkey, or your partner is estranged from the family, it makes everybody’s life much easier if everyone gets along. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you can’t win everybody over. This is when you just have to accept the fact that you can’t please everybody (nor should you try to) and hold your head up high.
My ex-boyfriend from high school had a mother who was a bit of a nut-case (and I say that with the utmost respect). You know it’s bad when your boyfriend’s dad tells you to hide when the woman-of-the-house comes home early unexpectedly. She was an intimidating woman whose only form of communication with me was nasty glares, so hide I did – in his brother’s closet and one time in their motor home parked in their backyard. I thought at first that maybe I offended her somehow and that she didn’t like me, but I soon found out she disliked all females in her sons’ lives, including platonic female friends. I couldn’t imagine having her as a mother-in-law ever. Luckily someone else has to deal with her now.
Preparing the Family
If you are bringing someone new to meet the family, here are a few ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ to keep in mind:
- DO tell your family a few basic things about your partner such as first and last name, occupation, and hobbies. This at least gives your family some background information and provides a few conversation starters. It also prevents them from having to ask the awkward question,” Sooo, what do you do?”
- DO tell your family if this person is drastically different than your previous partners. For example, if you used to date the clean-cut, straight-laced type, but are now bringing home a heavily tattooed and pierced musician, prepare them, or be prepared for some surprised stares.
- DON’T give too much information to your family. If your family knows all the sordid details of your partner’s colourful past, your partner doesn’t stand a fighting chance. Let your family form their own impressions first and leave not-so savory details for later.
- DO tell your family if your partner has special dietary needs if you are meeting for dinner. This saves your vegetarian date from making excuses for not eating your mother’s celebrated pot roast.
Preparing Yourself and Making a Good First Impression
If you are anxiously getting ready to meet your partner’s family, here are a ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ to keep in mind:
- DO ask your partner about any sensitive topics to steer clear of to avoid any awkward moments.
- DO think of a few conversational topics ahead of time so you are not too much of a wall-flower.
- DO look your best. This doesn’t necessarily mean showing up in a tuxedo, but rather just making sure you look presentable.
- DON’T stress out too much. It’s only one meeting after all. Even if you mess up, you still have opportunities to redeem yourself.
Fung, T. (2010, November 3). Meeting the Family: Nervous Butterflies and First Impressions, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/theunlockedlife/2010/11/meeting-the-family-nervous-butterflies-and-first-impressions