What to Do When You Meet Your Girlfriend’s Parents

An older couple.
Your first meeting with your girlfriend's parents can be nerve-wracking, but it's a big step in your relationship. (Image: Rido via Dreamstime)

Your first meeting with your girlfriend’s parents can be nerve-wracking, but it’s a big step in your relationship. It may also signify that your girlfriend is taking your relationship a notch higher from casual dating. But you are probably asking yourself whether your girlfriend’s parents will like you. And will you like them?

So how can you create a good impression when you meet your girlfriend’s parents? And what do you say when you meet your prospective in-laws?

How to prepare for meeting your girlfriend’s parents

Do your homework

It’s essential to know more about your girlfriend’s family beforehand. Some families are conservative while others are not. Also, your girlfriend’s family may be nuclear, single-parent, extended, or foster. You’ll be better composed if you know who will be around.

Also, try to learn the names of her family members. Then, you can ask for a photograph to remember them when you meet. Again, it’s a sign that you and your partner are close.

Dress appropriately

Families are different. Some don’t mind casual clothes, but you can never go wrong with conservative attire. Let the power of first impressions be on your side.

Your clothes should show that you respect your girlfriend’s parents. For example, avoid clothes with offensive or political images. On the other hand, you don’t want to appear rude by wearing clothes that promote violence. 

Your clothes should show that you respect your girlfriend's parents.
Your clothes should show that you respect your girlfriend’s parents. (Image: Artofphoto via Dreamstime)

Understand the meeting’s significance

Is meeting your girlfriend’s parents a big deal? You should know the significance of meeting her parents from your girlfriend’s perspective. It may be a big deal for her, or he just wants to take you for a casual dinner. So please discuss this with your partner before you meet your girlfriend’s parents.

Some people take their parent’s opinions seriously, while others don’t. Also, please take into consideration how far away her parents live. If it’s a long-distance trip, it’s probably something serious. 

Avoid touchy topics

The meeting is probably all about you. Of course, your girlfriend’s parents want to know about your background, interests, hobbies, and career path. But there are conversation pitfalls that you should avoid in your first meeting. And of course, your girlfriend should tell you her parents’ opinions. 

A good rule of thumb; avoid controversial topics such as religion and politics. But what if her parents ask you if you go to church? Here, telling the truth is advisable because it will all come out eventually. However, respectfully do this; if you share different opinions, don’t turn it into an argument. You’ll have plenty of time down the road when you understand her family’s dynamics better.

Also, avoid complaining about your work, parenthood, or topics that may make you seem lazy and incompetent.

Arrive on time

It’s tricky to know when to arrive but to be on time. You can also show up a little early but not too early. Arriving late can undo your first impression. But arriving too early may be awkward because they may be cleaning or cooking before you come.

It's essential to appreciate her family's effort whether they invited you to a restaurant or their home.
It’s essential to appreciate her family’s effort whether they invited you to a restaurant or their home. (Image: Danilo Ascione via Dreamstime)

Appreciate the effort

It’s essential to appreciate her family’s effort whether they invited you to a restaurant or their home. Simple etiquette can help you win them over. So if you are at a restaurant, don’t be rude to the staff and don’t order something too expensive.

But while it’s essential to be polite, don’t be dishonest. You can compliment her mother’s dress, cooking, or decor, but don’t go overboard. Remember, some people may like flattery, but others see through it, and you’ll appear fake.

Also, when it comes to gifts for your girlfriend’s parents, ask your girlfriend first. Otherwise, you may bring wine to a teetotaller family or sugary stuff to a person with diabetes.

Have good manners

Everybody has their quirks. Maybe you love curse words, smoking, or drinking. But try to avoid such pitfalls with your girlfriend’s parents. You may be nervous, but don’t overdrink. And if you smoke, ask if her parents approve.

Enjoy yourself

Most tips advise against going overboard, but being yourself is essential. For example, if you are talkative, talk. And if you are reserved, don’t try to be anything else. Also, if you get upset, you are always allowed to take a bathroom break to avoid awkward moments and silences.

Remember, this is about you showing that you care about their daughter. It may usher in a new complex relationship, but it’s a milestone worth celebrating. So relax, be yourself, be courteous, and enjoy.

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  • Nathan Machoka

    Nathan is a writer specializing in history, sustainable living, personal growth, nature, and science. To him, information is liberating, and it can help us bridge the gap between cultures and boost empathy. When not writing, he’s reading, catching a favorite show, or weightlifting. An admitted soccer lover, he feeds his addiction by watching Arsenal FC games on weekends.

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