10 Tips for Meeting Your Significant Other's Parents | Jessica Neistadt ♡

How to Meet the Parents

Are you meeting your boyfriend or girlfriend's parents for the first time? Some parents are friendly, welcoming people who will try to make a good impression onyou. But other parents won't make it that easy. And while you don't want to feel like you have to be someone entirely different around such parents, it doesn't hurt to be selective about how you present yourself the first time you meet them.


  1. Get a crash course on the parents' flavor of etiquette.Will the parents expect a handshake, a hug, or a bow? Will they want to be called Mr./Mrs., sir/ma'am, by their first name, or Mom/Dad? Will you be expected to take off your shoes in the house? Should you take off your jacket, or wait for them to offer to take it from you? Where do the parents usually sit, so you can make sure to avoid those seats? Your boyfriend or girlfriend might find these questions odd or annoying because they already know this stuff without having to think of it consciously, but you'll save a lot of awkwardness by finding out in advance.
  2. Request that your boyfriend or girlfriend try to be especially agreeable just this once.If he or she argues a lot with the parents, this can be very uncomfortable for you, especially if you're asked to choose sides. It's a battle you can't win. So ask your significant other to try to avoid any arguments or debates. If they bubble up anyway, be ready to change the subject.
  3. Dress with the following in mind:What you want is for the parents to realize how suitable you are for their child, and the last thing you want is for your clothing to distract from that. You have to understand that when you're viewed from the perspective of an older generation, your clothes stand out much more to them than they do to your peers, and it can be difficult to pay attention to what someone is saying when you're surprised or shocked by what they're wearing. So generally, the plainer, the better!
    • If the parents are conservative, strict, or religious, dress like you're going to church. Stare at the parents thoughtfully, as it makes them feel important, not just their child. Keep it simple and clean. Leave the death metal t-shirt or the miniskirt in the closet.
    • If the parents are hippies, dress as casually as you're comfortable (but nottoocomfortable--sweatpants and pajamas are generally not a good idea, no matter how laid back the parents).
    • If the parents are wealthy, find or purchase quality clothing that you'd wear if you were going to work in a professional environment.
  4. Emphasize aspects of yourself that are the opposite of what the parents disliked about your partner's ex(es).Before you meet the parents, ask your boyfriend/girlfriend: "Did your parents like your ex? Why or why not?" If they liked or disliked anything about former boyfriends/girlfriends, dig for character traits, not unchangeable things like race or status. For example, if the parents didn't like that the ex had no direction in life, talk about your goals and plans. If they didn't like the ex because (they thought) she was a snob, be humble. If they didn't like the ex because he was too controlling, find a way to show that you respect your partner's individuality.
  5. Find common ground.This is where some preliminary research will come in handy.
    • Are the parents into sports? If you follow the same sport, this can be a good conversation topic. But if you're fiercely dedicated to their favorite team's rival, you might want to avoid this subject for now.
    • Geographical origins. Are you, or anyone in your family, from an area of the country or the world that the parents are from? Or have you visited the area? Example: "Sarah tells me you lived in Germany for a year when you were in the military. I studied abroad in Germany for a summer. Did you enjoy your time there?"
    • Some other interests that often cross generations: classical music, jazz, wine, beer, cars, crafts, pets, gardening, literature.
  6. Be genuinely appreciative.If you're in the parents' home, look around for something you sincerely like, such as artwork, or an area of the house (e.g. "I love the greenhouse you have attached to your house! It feels like a tropical jungle in there."). If you're eating together, comment on what you like most about the food. Upon departing, thank them for having you over, making dinner, etc.
  7. Read body language.If you pay attention, you'll be able to pick up on what the parents like or dislike about you, and adjust accordingly. Some parents might like that you're holding your boyfriend or girlfriend's hand, others might feel uncomfortable with it. Some parents will be horrified if the soles of your shoes come anywhere near their coffee table; others will think you're too stiff if you keep your feet planted firmly on the floor the whole time. You can follow your boyfriend or girlfriend's example to a degree, but remember that the parents are scrutinizingyou, not them, so you can't get away with everything they can.
  8. Find things you have in common with the parents and talk about it.Try to be as intelligent as you can when you speak (use correct grammar) and speak with politeness in mind.

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  • If shaking hands, see How to Have a Persuasive Handshake.
  • If you go out to dinner, it's generally nice to offer to pay for your own meal, or for that of you and your partner. Insisting, however, might be seen as rude. If they decline your offer, you can offer to pay the tip (and to be safe, make the tip generous).


  • If you're a strict vegetarian or vegan and the parents are hosting dinner, make sure your boyfriend or girlfriend tells them beforehand. If this might be something they'll see as an inconvenience (or perhaps dislike) suggest going to a restaurant where you know there are a few dishes you can order without your lifestyle choice becoming a topic of conversation.
  • Making eye contact is generally a good idea, unless the parents are from a culture in which some forms of eye contact are considered rude or disrespectful.

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Date: 03.12.2018, 11:59 / Views: 75344