So, this is it.
You have been going out for some time.
You’ve gotten to know each other well. You really do like each other and see yourselves dating officially.
You’ve gotten to the point of meeting your significant other’s (S.O.) family. Be it that they are close or not, it is a milestone in a relationship.
Meeting family brings us closer to our partner’s origins, to the people our S.O. grew up with and to help shape the beautiful people we fell in love with. There is no doubt that we want to be on the best possible terms with them.
Here are seven ways to help prepare to meet the family:
1. Get to know them before officially meeting them
If your partner wants you to meet their family, it is almost certain that they will tell you something about them beforehand.
Do not be afraid to ask questions!
It is completely normal to be curious about your S.O.’s family and to want to get into the structure and a few of their characters (from your lover’s perspective).
Who knows? Maybe someone will have an interest similar to yours, a hobby you never heard of, or will work at a similar or interesting job. There are bound to be some facts you’d want to know beforehand.
2. Don’t be a nervous wreck
It’s fine! As much as you are excited, to the point of being anxious, so are they!
If your S.O. has close family ties, they will tell you—and you will be certainly more nervous because of that fact. However, think about it from a different perspective: their family is finally meeting the person who makes their child smile stupidly cute and be a bit brighter than with everyone else.
They would love to leave a great impression and be a part of your story as a couple (with healthy boundaries, of course). You should all be excited—it is a sign of appreciation even before meeting.
3. Prepare the fashion choice for the occasion
Even before the first hello, you can start leaving an impression with the clothes you will go to the meeting in. You are not going to the Met Gala, but do try to dress for the occasion.
If you’re meeting for a Sunday brunch, a flowy dress or casual pants and shirt certainly meet the standard. Whereas a birthday or anniversary party will most likely require more formal wear. Either way, do not wear something you hate or feel uncomfortable in—you should be paying attention to the people around you, not about the new shoes hurting your feet.
4. Pack the goodies for a warm greeting
No matter the occasion you will attend, you could always bring a gift for the family—be it a pretty or useful gift for all or a small thoughtfully selected gift for their parents. Little, nice gestures can go a long way.
If you are tight on a budget, you can bake something. If you truly do want to show thoughtfulness and uniqueness, another way to go is an artisanal product. Buying from a small business can be not only a special piece for your S.O.’s family but something to show what a wonderful person you are.
5. On the spot—take care of your manners
When meeting the family and you’re finally in front of each other, be on your best behavior. Smile warmly, greet everyone, and don’t avoid anyone. Saying “Hello!” is not harmful in any way, and everyone present will certainly notice the action.
Maybe check etiquette advice. If you are participating in an activity, let them decide on teams—but don’t be afraid to show competitiveness, or if that is not your jam, show team spirit cheering on the sidelines.
Let yourself be involved and comfortable. If you want to go a long way with your lover, you will meet these people again.
6. Try open-minded and respectful conversations
You can expect to be the center of attention for everyone present for a while, and that is why you are nervous at least a bit.
Take a deep breath, relax, and know that as much as you are afraid of blurting something wrong, so are they.
As you have gathered some information from your significant other, try to ease yourself. Extrovert or introvert, expect to speak with everyone and answer with thought while conversing.
Try asking about their hobbies and interests (even if you’ve heard about them) and actively listen. These people go a long time and have their history, inside jokes, and not-so-funny moments which are bound to be mentioned.
It is okay to sit back and enjoy or observe the atmosphere around you. That family could become yours.
7. The most important: be yourself
Presumably, you’d want to be with your person for a long time—why bother meeting their family otherwise?
If you are trying to be someone you aren’t or in any way make yourself uncomfortable, it will show in time. And, in the end, why do that to yourself? You like and want to pursue a long and loving relationship with your partner, not their family.
Be your own, weird or boring, loud or quiet self. They also want to impress you.
Good luck, and remember: just keep paddling.