Meeting the parents – How to make a good impression
When your new partner suggests meeting their parents it is nerve wracking no matter how old you are. A parent’s nod of approval can sometimes be a crucial deciding factor in whether a relationship lasts or not. Even if your new partner isn’t dependant on their parents, the reality is if you stay together, it will be a lot easier all round if everyone gets on. Here are some top tips for making a good impression.
1. Do your homework
Before you meet the parents ask your partner to tell you a few key facts about them – their likes and dislikes or prejudices. What you are looking for is conversation starters which will help you form a connection with their parents.
2. Keep confidences
The chances are your partner may have disclosed things to you about their childhood or young adulthood which their parents may not be aware of. This is particularly true where a child is hurt or resentful about things that happened or how they were treated by their parents. Remember these things were told to you in confidence and unless your partner brings them up you shouldn’t either.
3. Avoid conversation taboos
The three most contentious topics for conversations are money, politics and religion. On the first meeting with parents avoid all three! People’s values and beliefs are often very close to their heart and it is difficult to disagree with their views without it sounding like you are attacking them as a person.
4. Don’t be overly touchy feely
You and your partner may be very tactile and affectionate when you are on your own or in the company of close friends, but open displays of affection or references to your sex life can create discomfort for both your partner and their parents. Keep it G rated for the first meeting with your partner’s parents.
5. The art of conversation
The best way to make a good impression on parents is to show that you are interested in getting to know them and their family history. This shows that you are serious about making a commitment to their son/daughter and not just passing through. Listening is just as important to the art of conversation as talking is. If they ask you a question be open and honest but avoid over-sharing – they don’t need your whole life story at the first meeting.
6. Be courteous and polite
The main thing parents are looking for when they meet their child’s partner is signs that this person is going to treat their son/daughter well. They are looking for indications that you care and have their child’s best interests at heart. Although you may feel quite self-conscious try to extend yourself and think about other people – especially your partner. Look for opportunities where you can make the meeting a success e.g. doing the dishes or squeezing your partner’s hand if you sense they are tense or uncomfortable.
7. Be real
Above everything else do not try to be someone you’re not – parents will usually sniff out a fake faster than anyone else. Be authentic, open and honest but also on your best behaviour. Think before you speak. Imagine being the parent in this situation – what would reassure you that your child was happy and in safe hands?
These early encounters are important in laying the foundations for relationships that will last for as long as your new love does.
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