My first relationship was during my senior year of high school. I was extremely nervous about bringing my boyfriend home to meet my family for the first time because I had no clue what to expect. Going to an all-girls high school, my social circle was mostly female, and being the oldest child in my family, I had no big brother or sister to use as a frame of reference. Thankfully, our “meet the parents moment” was just fine. We had a semi-awkward family dinner, loosened up over dessert, and ended the night laughing at “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in the living room.
Looking back, I wish I’d just taken a deep breath and trusted that everything would be okay — because it totally was. I had wasted days being anxious over nothing! Since then, I’ve learned a thing or two about bringing a guy home to meet my parents. If you’re bringing your SO home for the first time, keep these tips in mind.
Pick the right day, time, and location.
The first time my current boyfriend met my parents was at my little sister’s high school play. It may sound silly but, that high school rendition of “Seussical” ended up being the perfect setting. It was low-stakes, relaxed, and mutually enjoyable. Rather than a stuffy dinner — or worse, a family party — my parents and boyfriend were able to meet at the beginning of the play, chit chat until the show started, and then bond over the experience at dinner afterward.
Piggybacking off an existing family event, like a sibling’s soccer game or awards ceremony, takes the pressure off you to plan everything from A to Z. Being strategic with your timing will create a climate for both parties to be their best selves.
Don’t let your SO be a stranger to your parents and vice versa.
I live at home and see my parents often, so it’s easy to casually mention details about my SO during conversation. If my parents are discussing a movie that I know he’s seen, I’ll chime in with what my SO thought about it. Or if we’re deciding on a new restaurant to try, I’ll suggest our favorite date spot.
If you don’t see your folks as often as I do, try sending selfies of you and your SO, or photos of adventures you’ve gone on together (even if it’s just going to a new exhibit at a museum). This will help demystify your relationship and also give your parents something to talk about when they meet your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you feel awkward texting photos, at the very least give your parents an elevator pitch about your SO with key conversational details. For example, “Hey Mom, I’m thinking of bringing X over for dinner next weekend. We met at work. He’s on the creative content team and moved here from San Francisco a few years ago. He’s really into soccer, so I think he and dad will have a lot to talk about.”
Day-of, bring your A-game!
As the link between both parties, you have a big role to play. You know your SO and your parents better than they know each other, so if one accidentally says something off-limits, be ready to casually change the subject. Or, on the other hand, lay the groundwork for your partner and your parents to show off their best selves. When my parents met my boyfriend for the first time, I made a point to bring up stories and jokes that I know they love telling, even the ones that poke fun at me. Knowing my SO can be a little shy, I made a similar effort for him by mentioning jobs he was applying for, and starting funny stories about the two of us and letting him finish them.
First-meeting jitters can be stubborn, but just remind yourself how much you care about your family and your SO, and how they feel about you in return. They both want you to be happy, and each other’s approval is an important piece in that puzzle. If you radiate just how much you care about your family and your SO, they can thrive off your energy and enjoy their time together.