Feeling nervous about meeting your future in-laws— or hell, the maybe your future in-laws, because let’s not get carried away here— is totally normal. There’s often a lot of buildup, everyone feels slightly ill at ease, and, frankly, some families are just really difficult. So if you’re feeling anxious and overthinking it, that’s OK. If it makes you feel any better, it can’t be worse than my encounter with my girlfriend’s dad. After only briefly meeting my girlfriend’s father, the next time I saw him was when he walked into his kitchen, where I was in my pajamas spooning peanut butter straight out of the jar into my mouth. My mouth was too full of peanut butter to even say hello. I had to just hum and nod at him. So, really, it could be worse.
And to put it in perspective, remember that meeting the parents might be nerve-wracking, but it normally means you’re at a good place with your partner. “If the prospect of meeting your partner’s family now seems incredibly intimidating, take comfort in the idea that a ‘meet the parents’ event is, in and of itself, a good sign for your relationship,” Psychology Today explains. “Both men and women introduce their dating partners to parents when they are ready to gain their parent’s approval and want to signal to their partner that they are serious about the relationship.” So it means you’re on the right track.
But that doesn’t make the actual meeting any easier. So here’s what you have to remember.
Make Sure You’re Actually Ready
Often, one partner will feel more comfortable about the whole situation and want to do the introductions sooner. Maybe they have a better relationship with their family or they’re just keen to get the relationship moving. That’s fine— but you don’t have to do anything before you’re ready. Make sure you think your relationship is in the right place for it to be happening and it will help you feel less awkward.
Neutrality Is Key
A lot of people think that neutral subjects are a must, but I actually think a neutral location can be really helpful. By meeting somewhere like a restaurant or a bar, no person feels at a disadvantage and, crucially, the night can end when dinner does. You don’t want to feel trapped with the family the first time you meet them. Let everyone go home and decompress.
Ask Your Partner For Support
If you’re feeing nervous, you can and should talk to your partner about it. Granted, they’ll probably be feeling nervous too— but talking to them can make sure that they’re keeping an eye one you throughout the meeting. Also, getting any helpful tips about the family is so important. It’ll keep you from asking awkward questions and offending someone (like I did when I didn’t realize my first boyfriend’s family was extremely religious). Having a game plan will make everyone feel more relaxed about the situation.
The bottom line: it’s probably going to be a little awkward. Or really awkward. Sorry, but that’s how it goes. Remember that first impressions are important— but they’re not everything. My first awkward meeting of my girlfriend’s family is now a distant memory. Just get a game plan and think of it as something you need to power through. Because at the end of the day, your relationship is about the two of you, not the families.