Real Life Scary Things: Meeting the Parents

So your parents are visiting, and there is a possibility your boyfriend will meet them. You super casually mentioned this to him, and, in order to gauge his receptiveness, again, verrrry casually (but like a hawk!), studied the reaction on his face for any signs of dread. Terror. NAUSEA. Most probably, his face showed none of these things, and he said something infuriatingly non-committal like, “Oh. That’s cool.”

Bah! Okay. Don’t freak out. There are ways to determine whether or not this is a good idea.

If you are the one introducing your parents, first off, consider:

Are your parents Republicans, conservative Christians, extremely protective and territorial of you, or, in any way at all, aholes?

Oh nooooo. No no no. If you’ve been dating for less than a year, spare your relationship the misery of going through this until you guys are engaged or something.

Do you put one or both of your parents on a huge pedestal?

Guys: if your mom can do no wrong in any way, oh man. You are setting your girlfriend up for misery. Stop being Oedipally weird, and recognize that your mom is a normal person with faults! Also, do not ever directly compare your girlfriend to her. Like if your girlfriend makes you a sandwich, but you don’t like it because your mom used to cut off the fucking crust or something, uh, that’s creepy. A girlfriend is not a new mom.

So fucking in love.

Do you really, really like this person?

There is nothing more awkward than when your parents ask you something you should know about your boyfriend right in front of him, and you clearly have no idea that, say, he is deathly allergic to peanuts. Ugh. It’s a clear sign that you are not very seriously invested in this relationship.

Does he appear even mildly interested in meeting your family?

If, during the meeting the parents conversation, you start to feel like a pedophile luring a small child into your van, then this is definitely a bad sign. Like, if you hear yourself falsely downplaying the situation, and being all, “It’s no big deal, it’ll be suuuuper casual. No need to be alarmed … this is definitely not a TRAP … ” Gah. Assuming you are not a crazy person, and you have waited a reasonable amount of time to broach this subject – to heck with him. A good boyfriend will WANT to meet the people in your life.

If you’re the one being introduced to the parents:

Again, make sure you’re serious about this

Don’t meet his family if you know you’re not feeling it, because if you guys break up, he will have to answer questions about WHY for months, and that is just cruel.

Shamefully, I have once been guilty of agreeing to meet the family when I knew I wasn’t feeling it, and let me tell you, it sucks. When his mom is fawning over how great you are, showing you the family photos and insinuating that you might one day be a part of these photos, ugh. You will feel like a heartless piece of slime mold disguised as a good girlfriend.

Just be your own sweet self

Trying to be a different person is pointless, because you will be somewhat nervous and under pressure, which will make your whole elaborate effort seem really fake. So just be yourself! Maybe they will like hearing ramble-y stories about rural Michigan.

Although, keep in mind, this should be your most presentable version of yourself

If your own sweet self swears profusely, wears hooker clothes, has no manners, or frequently shows up drunk-on-arrival to dinner, then you might want to consider just minimally repressing some of those things. First impressions can be very strong.

You really, really like him. Shit!

If you are completely smitten with this guy, and then, on top of it all, his family turns out to be super nice and great… ooof. You might be nervous, but try not to worry too much about screwing it up. In the best relationships, it turns out you pretty much can’t screw things up, no matter how many times you awkwardly mention the mating rituals of salmon. Seriously though stop talking about salmon.

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About the author

Katy B. - Economic Inexpert

Katy B. grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the home of Gerald R. Ford, Andy Richter, and, at one point, the guy who wrote Mr. Holland’s Opus. She moved to NYC for her degree in library science, and is now in the Media Studies program at The New School. She hopes to one day be a film studies librarian. Ask her anything about Dewey Decimal – anything! – and she will roll her eyes because academic libraries use Library of Congress. Durrr.

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