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I am the kind of person that is a little shy/awkward when first meeting people, but get better over time, the longer I have to warm up to them. The problem is that this initial nervousness is quite a bit worse in this case because I will be meeting my significant other's parents for the first time. I feel that I am unreasonably nervous for this occasion, and it's concerning me that I will come off as standoffish or weird. The last thing I want is for her parents to not like me or anything of that nature.

I have dated in the past and met the parents, but for some reason this time I am especially worried. I think it is because I am more invested in this relationship than past ones.

Any advice as far as how to approach this situation or better deal with my nervousness would be greatly appreciated.

  • 3
    How long have you known your current partner? Have you asked her for advice when meeting her parents? And how old are you? – Erik Oct 5 '17 at 14:18
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    @Erik I have known her for about 6 months, dating for around half that time. I am 27 years old. I have asked a bit but will discuss again with her closer to the time. – ozom5 Oct 5 '17 at 14:39
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    If watching wacky comedies has taught me anything, the key is to avoid any activity that involves removing one's clothes, taking cold medicine or mentioning the mafia. – Valorum Oct 5 '17 at 21:32
  • Consider that you're luckier than my sisters' and my beaus, who had to endure being called up by my mother on the car phone with the whole family in the car and being asked to describe himself in 20 words or less, amid much giggling in the background and the girl whose beau it was shrieking "No! Leave him alone!" – Erin Oct 9 '17 at 3:54
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My first bit of advice would be not to overthink this. It's understandable to feel some pressure when you're meeting the relatives of your significant other because you want them to like you since you're invested in the relationship. It's very unlikely that the parents intend to interrogate you in order to assess whether or not you're 'good enough' to be with their child. Most likely they are simply interested in meeting someone who's important to their child. Remember that the parents and you have a shared interest: you all love your significant other and want that person to be happy. Getting to know each other and getting along helps you all achieve that goal.

Personally, I have a somewhat similar situation in that I too can have trouble being social when I don't know someone very well. In this sort of situation I would try to find some time alone with one of the parents, like for instance if one of them goes to do the dishes, offer to help them out and use the 'informal' moment to build some rapport. A similar opportunity would be if one of them is going do go get some take-out or do some grocery shopping and you offer to go along. For me, it becomes much easier to talk to someone I don't know in a one-on-one situation rather than when everyone's sitting in the same room together because the latter situation creates a lot more pressure.

The added benefit is that helping out with a chore helps you make a positive impression. Even if your help is refused, the fact that you offered to help out shows that even if you're not very talkative or outgoing, you are considering their needs and are trying to 'invest' in interacting with them positively.

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    +1 for helping out. My now-husband made a very good impression on my mother the first time I brought him home. We weren't dating then, and he was one of a group of friends. After dinner we moved into the living room to talk...my mother recalls looking around and noticing that he wasn't there. He was in the kitchen, washing up. Later, when I introduced him as my boyfriend, he was already many points ahead with my parents :). (Just double-check with your SO that her parents aren't the kind who would rather do it themselves so it's "done right" if you might do anything without asking.) – 1006a Oct 6 '17 at 18:31
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Some thoughts...

  • Basic politeness will get you a long way.

  • These parent types are the ones who raised the wonderful girl you are with. You automatically have something in common with them: a shared admiration for your SO.

  • You don't have to utterly charm them ... SO is the main person whose good opinion you want. So don't try too hard. That never works anyway. The reason "be yourself" is a cliche is that it's good advice!

  • You might consider looking up a few interesting safe topics ("weird news" from local area often has some good ideas). Religion, politics, etc can wait.

  • Be prepared to field questions about what you like to do, and what you do for a living.

  • Depending on your ages, you might hear "What are your intentions toward our daughter?" Have been asked this. Answered, "Sir (ulp!), Jessica and I are still working that out, together."

  • Ask them questions as well; get them to talk. "How long have you lived in this house?" "If it's not too forward, how did you two meet?" When you show interest in people, it helps them like you.

  • Above all, relax. You'll likely meet them many more times. Don't psych yourself out thinking this is an all-or-nothing critical meeting.

Side-note ... many years ago I went to meet SO's parents and was asked "So ... what's so special about you?" Yikes!

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    "was asked "So ... what's so special about you?" hilarious! What did you answer? – Fildor Oct 5 '17 at 15:33
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    Well played, well played ... – Fildor Oct 5 '17 at 15:46
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To add to the other answers:

Maybe you can ask your s/o for the typical pitfalls (if you manage to memorize them):

  • Religion: Are the parents religious? If so, what exact denomination? Young earth Creationists? Perhaps only little bit religious but will still take offense in specific things? Pro-Life? Pro-Choice? ...

  • Politics: Know where they stand but avoid the topic on the "first date" if not brought up by them. Don't lie to them about your place on the spectrum. If the relation is going to last a little longer, they'll find out anyway.

  • Animals: Cat-People or Dog-People? Believe it or not - this can be a hot topic.

  • Sports: Don't go on a rant about Pas's favorite team ... (but don't lie if you don't like them neither. Just be "diplomatic" )

  • Culture: You did not provide geo/culture-tags but there may be topics to be handled differently or expected behaviors dependent on their culture / heritage. And of course vice versa: You could avoid misunderstanding their behavior knowing their culture.

  • ... That's what's on top of my head. Feel free to comment with more. I'll add to the list.


Just remembering some of my "first meetings" of "in-laws" ...

Often Fathers have special relationships with their daughters ( I must know that ;) ). Depending on their sense of humor, they may try to set you up a little bit. Like asking on purpose a little bit awkward or too direct questions (usually accompanied by roll-eyes of mother-in-law and s/o). Or tell you stories that end in "gotcha!" ... Just stay calm and play along. I found that it is mostly a good sign. After all, it may well be they are nervous to meet you, too.

Anecdote: "Pa" asks me what I'd like to drink. Me: "Thanks, nothing right now." He goes to the booze-cupboard, pulls out a humongous bottle of moonshine with a label saying "Nothing". He turns around asks "Really, nothing?" , Me: "Nothing at all, thanks" He puts back the bottle, takes an even bigger one with a label "Nothing at all" and has me drink a glass of the most evil stuff I ever had the misfortune to kill my braincells with. On our way home, I asked my s/o if he had tried to kill me with that. She replied he does that only with people he really likes ...

TL;DR Sometimes awkward behavior of fathers are really a sign they approve.

  • 1
    A suggestion for your list: ask your SO about food allergies and preferences her/his parents might have. Especially if you have them over for dinner for example. We have a saying in the Netherlands that 'love goes through the stomach'. This basically means that one's affection can be won by making a nice meal. Just make sure it's well received by everyone and doesn't send anyone to the hospital – Iarwain Oct 6 '17 at 13:16
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I just met my girlfriend's mom for the first time and I was slightly nervous. I think the reason you feel so anxious is because you're placing so much importance and value in meeting them and having everything be perfect.

It's obviously a little important but if you are telling yourself it will be absolutely perfect then you are just going to make yourself more nervous overthinking it and setting yourself up to not have a good time. Try not to care as much and it will not be as stressful. Also, remember that they are probably the reason your significant other is the way they are so there is a high likelihood that you will get along just fine.

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Just do these three things, 1) Be honest, 1) Smile at them, 3) practice meeting them in your mind.

Be honest, when you meet them consider saying something like this

Hi, I've been really excited and kind of nervous to meet you. I think your daughter is an amazing person.

Telling them your excited to meet them (which is probably part of what is making you nervous) is flattering and will make them feel good. Telling them that your nervous will explain any shy/awkward behavior on your part. Also more importantly telling the truth about how you feel will free you up inside to be more relaxed.

And of course telling them you think their daughter is amazing is a compliment to their parenting. which will make them like you and more forgiving of any odd behavior.

Smile at them, smiling will give you more positive emotions and more positive emotions to most people who see your smile. see here

practice meeting them in your mind I did some performance in high school and I learned that practicing things in your mind is actually really useful. Just practice the perfect 1 minute first impression every morning till you meet them. practicing in your mind will convince your brain that you can pull this off.

Extra tips -Bring a small gift that they will like, (ask your partners input). Even something like cookies will be well received.

-Deep slow breathing will relax you. I once had a therapist tell me that "deep breathing is the cheapest anti anxiety medicine." While not a miracle pill (or a pill at all :) ) it does help you relax From now till you meet them. Every time you feel nervous just breath deep and slow for a few minutes. Doing this sends a message to your brain saying something to the effect of, "It's ok, calm down."

-remember you had enough Charisma to catch your partner, in the long run her parents will probably see your same wonderful traits that your partner did.

You can do this! best of luck!

1

Adding to others' answers:

First, be on time and dress for the part. You can ask your GF what kind of clothes to wear. For example, a suit, or something at least a bit formal. Also, if they invite you for dinner, bring something, like flowers.

If you're a bit awkward, it will be much easier to make a good first impression (after this, they will help you warm up) than to make a bad one and then have to crawl your way up under disapproving stares... Also, looking your best will boost your confidence.

It's just a small piece of advice, but really important.

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