When a relationship is going well, at some point you may decide to introduce your significant other to your parents. But how soon is too soon for meeting the parents? Are there things you can do to make sure the meeting goes well? Are there things your significant other can do?
When to Meet the Parents
There really is no steadfast answer as to when to have your significant other “meet the parents”. There are however, a few things to consider:
Don’t introduce someone you are casually dating to your parents. If you are not officially in a relationship with the person then an introduction to the parents could be detrimental in two ways:
- You simply can’t introduce everyone you casually date to your family. This would result in a revolving door of casual introductions. Your family may stop taking your introductions seriously. Imagine your mom at the front door yelling “Another one” in her DJ Khaled voice.
- The other reason you shouldn’t introduce your casual dating buddy to our family is because it sends a confusing message to the person you’re dating. Are we or aren’t we casual? If you want to keep things casual then parental introductions are saying the opposite of that. And if you want to get more serious, a parental introduction is putting the cart before the horse. Don’t scare your casual dating partner away. Give the relationship time to become a relationship first. Are Your Dating Expectations Too High?
How Casual are your Parents?
If you are in a relationship then deciding when to introduce your significant other to your parents depends on both the intentions and seriousness of the relationship and the casualness of your parents. My parents are rather serious. If I bring someone home to meet them they will assume I am serious about the person. Knowing this, I would only introduce someone to my parents if the relationship was very serious. On the contrary, I have been in relationships with people whose parents are a lot more casual. I met their parents when the relationship was still quite new or casual however an invitation to meet my parents was not extended. When I explained that I only introduce boyfriends to my parents when the relationship is very serious, it sometimes offended them. “So what are your saying? You don’t see a future with me?” It wasn’t that I didn’t see a future, it was simply that semi-serious relationships had failed in the past. To avoid the revolving door, and or too much parental pressure, I preferred to wait until a relationship was very serious. Either way, communicating with your partner is key. Transparency about what it means to meet or not meet your parents is vital to avoid unnecessary negative assumptions. How Assertive Can Women Be in Dating?
Will Your Family Marry Your Partner?
How involved are your parents/family? Will they love your significant other too much upon meeting them? I learned early on that my mother had the potential to “marry my partners”. If a guy was particularly handsome, smart or charismatic she would rave about him. In the beginning it would be great that she took such interest in my love interest. But if or rather when the relationship went sour I felt an extra loss. The loss was even more heightened if my brother had befriended him as a basketball buddy. You don’t want your family to badger you about a bad breakup. Why couldn’t YOU make it work with so-in-so? And if you are the partner meeting the parents, then you don’t want to have to break up with a whole family if or when the relationship ends.
Will meeting your parents too early negatively impact your relationship?
How much are you like your parents? Do you project similar energy and viewpoints or is there a stark contrast between you and them? If there is a stark contrast you might need more time to solidify your relationship before introducing your parents. In dating there is a buy-in period. All of the time spent together is time spent subconsciously evaluating your partner. Do you like them? Do you feel good when you are with them? Can you tolerate the things you don’t like? If you introduce your family too fast and it doesn’t go well your partner’s interest may begin to sway more than it would if the relationship had already had time to solidify.
How can you make sure the meeting goes well?
So let’s suppose you consider all of this and decide it is time to introduce your partner to your parents. Here are a few tips to make sure it goes well:
- Tell your partner ahead of time if there are any sensitive or controversial topics they should avoid.
- Tell them what they should call your parents: Mr. & Mrs. Johnson? Bob & Barbara? Dr. Johnson? Sir & Ma’am?
- If the meeting is a meal at your parents’ house be sure to communicate your partner’s dietary restrictions and preferences. Don’t invite a vegan to a steak dinner!
- Advise your partner on what they can bring. Flowers for mom? A dinner dessert? Is there anything they should NOT bring, like wine to a dry household?!
- If the meeting is at a restaurant, advise your date on whether or not to pay. Should he offer and insist, offer but then allow your dad to pay, etc.?
- Are there any secrets you have from your family that your date isn’t aware is a secret? Let him/her know ahead of time so they don’t accidentally bring it up as a topic of casual conversation.
- Give your partner some topics of conversation that interest your parents so he/she can be prepared to be a good conversationalist.
- Don’t ignore the basics. Tell them if they should take their shoes off or keep them on? Tell them if it is okay to park in the driveway or not.
- Defend and help your partner. If conversation isn’t going well, jump in and help them out. Don’t allow your partner to sink. Remember they are YOUR guest!
- Let your partner and parents know what they are walking into. If your partner is a different race, religion, or anything else that you know will be of concern/controversy for your parents, let both parties know ahead of time. If it won’t be an issue for your parents then awesome, no need to discuss. 7 Things to Consider Before Entering an Interfaith Marriage Intercultural Dating: Unforeseen Challenges and Expectations
As the holiday season continues you may just be considering bringing home that someone special. Good luck and I hope these are helpful tips! Don’t forget to come back and share what worked for you.