Introducing your partner to your family can totally induce anxiety, but you can set up a foundation for a good relationship. Explain your family dynamics, interests, expressions and rules, and suggest gifts for the meeting in order to ensure a great first impression.
Don't leave your first impression to the hands of fate. Brett and Kate McCay share five things you should learn about your partner's family at The Art of Manliness:
- Family dynamics dossier. Give your girlfriend a primer about the drama and dynamics in your family. Your mum hates your stepmom, your brother is in rehab, your dad has been out of work for six months. Those kinds of things. The more she knows, the less likely she is to inadvertently "step in it."
- Gift. If your girlfriend would like to bring a gift for your parents, that's definitely a nice gesture. Give her some suggestions on what would go over well. Does your mum have a favourite flower? Do they love trying new coffees? You don't want your girlfriend to offer a bottle of wine to your teetotaling parents.
- Common ground she shares with your parents. People like other people who are like them. So let your girlfriend know a thing or two she has in common with your folks that she can bring up with them. "Andrew tells me you're into gardening. I've been trying to dip my toes into it by starting a little windowsill garden in my apartment."
- Physical affection. Let her know about how your family demonstrates physical affection. Maybe your mum isn't a hugger and it would be best for your girlfriend to offer a handshake. Or maybe she needs to be prepared for the fact that your mum is going to smooch her right on the lips.
- House rules. Should she take off her shoes when she comes inside? Will your parents expect you to sleep in separate rooms? Do you always say grace before meals? You don't want your gal to be digging into her meatloaf as everyone else bows their head for a prayer.
Although this is written from a male perspective, it's helpful for everyone. Having your partner prepare you will even the odds in your favour before you meet your potential in-laws for the first time.
Bringing Your Girlfriend Home: Tips for a Smooth Introduction [The Art of Manliness]