Your relationship is getting real, and you want to take the next step. But navigating how to prepare your partner to meet your parents can be tricky.
The relationship you have with your partner is a very, very different one from the relationship you have with your parents. Even if you get along with your parents, it can be tricky to merge those two worlds. However, you can learn how to prepare your partner to meet your parents.
We all have different sides. We may show our passion and intimacy to our partners but our more fun side to our parents. It doesn’t mean you’re not being yourself with one or the other, but that they bring out different parts of you. So, incorporating those can be hard. You want your partner to make a good impression on your parents, especially the first time they meet. Even if you know your parents are accepting, you still want things to go well.
You want to prepare your partner for what to expect. How much should you give away? You don’t want to scare them or make them nervous. You want them to be themselves but not the way they are with you in private. So, how do you prepare your partner to meet your parents?
Why is introducing your partner to your parents so important?
I don’t want to make you more nervous than you probably already are, but this can be a big moment in your relationship. You want it to go smoothly. If you are close with your family, you want these important people in your life to meet and get along. Whether or not you know that this is your forever person, you want your two worlds to merge naturally.
You want to share the holidays with your family and your partner, and you don’t want it to be awkward. You want your partner to feel comfortable with your parents. Plus, you want your parents to see that your partner makes you happy and is a good choice. When your parents and partner don’t get along, it can cause a lot of tension in the future. It can impact where you decide to live, how your relationships grow, and even potential children.
Although first impressions aren’t everything, they are the beginning of what you hope to be a long and happy family unit. So, preparing your partner beforehand is not just helpful to you, but can also help to put their nerves aside.
When should you introduce your partner to your parents?
Formally introducing your partner to your parents feels like a big step in a relationship. You are merging two huge aspects of your life. But, how do you know when you’re ready? How do you know it is time? Well, there are some ways to help you figure that out.
If you’re exclusive and have discussed that it is a good sign, you are relatively serious. You don’t want to introduce your parents to just anyone. You want to make sure this is someone you care for.
Now, you can be in an open relationship and introduce them to your parents, but just be sure you’ve had that conversation. You want to be on the same page with your partner before you introduce them to your dad and your partner blurts out that they are seeing someone else.
You want to make sure that you both know what meeting the parents means. It is a step toward a future together or is it just for convenience? Are you expecting a proposal soon or for your partner to share their intentions with your parents?
You might think them agreeing to meet your parents is a big step, but it could be just casual for them. Have that discussion. Once you merge those words it is harder to move on later. So being on the same page beforehand is a good rule of thumb.
Also if you’ve met other important people in your lives, then the parents would be the next logical step. If they’ve met your siblings or friends, those relationships are a bit less intimidating than the parents. If you’ve done that and it went well, you should be good to take the next step.
You should also have a good level of trust. You can’t make a script for meeting the parents and should be able to trust each other. And you want to know that your partner won’t share your favorite sex position and they should know how much you share with your parents. This seems obvious, but some people can get very nervous when meeting parents and they slip up. Trusting that you can handle this moment is important.
Finally, you should introduce your partner to your parents when you feel comfortable with it. You should never pressure your partner or make them feel bad for not being at the same place as you. They may have never met a partner’s parents. They may come from a different family dynamic. You both need to feel like this next step makes sense for both of you.
How to prepare your partner to meet your parents
If you’ve decided you are both ready for your partner to meet your parents, you’ll want to prepare them. You don’t want them going in blind. You may be used to your family but they aren’t.
Giving them a heads up about certain things that may come up is important. This builds trust. It also lets you be vulnerable with them. You’re opening an entirely new part of your life to your partner and that is great. But, if you want to make sure things go smoothly, figuring out how to prepare your partner to meet your parents will reduce stress for both of you.
#1 Discuss family dynamics. This is the simplest thing to do, but very important. You don’t want to toss your partner into your family dinner only for them to be overwhelmed with names, relationships, and situations. Let them know everyone’s name and who they are. Show them photos so they can learn their faces before accidentally calling someone the wrong name. Tell them who they’re meeting and what the relationships are like.
Are they meeting your mom and stepdad? Are they meeting your divorced parents together or separately? Also, let them ask questions so they feel comfortable.
#2 Let them know what your parents are like. Prepare them for your parents. Are your parents serious and intense? Will they ask your partner their five-year plan? Will they ask their intentions or make a lot of cheesy jokes?
Are your parents your polar opposites in politics or religion? Do they bring those things up? Prepare your partner for uncomfortable moments or topics that might arise. Let them know how you handle it and ask them how you can make them feel comfortable. If you like to avoid certain topics with your family or if you’re fine getting into a friendly debate, your partner should know what to expect.
#3 Discuss questions your parents may ask. If you know your parents are protective, you’ll want to let your partner know that. Don’t act like your parents are easy to talk to if they are intimidating. If you know your dad is going to ask some hard questions, let your partner know so they can prepare and not be taken off guard.
#4 Let them know you’re supporting them. Remind them that you are there for them. You want this to go well but you know this is nerve-racking. Let them know that your opinion of them is what matters the most.
#5 Don’t put the pressure on. Even if you crave your parents’ approval don’t put that pressure on your partner. Let them be themselves. Let them know that this is just a first impression and isn’t a big deal.
#6 Help them relax. Ask what they need to feel good about this. If they are nervous, ask them why and how you can help. You don’t want them going in with clammy hands.
#7 Ease into it. Keep the introductions to something simple like coffee or brunch. Don’t introduce your partner to your parents when you’re all going away together for a weekend. Maybe have them come in for a drink before you go to dinner. Don’t make it a six-course meal where they are feeling overwhelmed.
#8 Choose a calm environment. If your parents’ house is full of chaos like your siblings fighting, introduce them at a local restaurant. Don’t make it too fancy. You want everyone to feel calm and comfortable.If you think inviting your parents to your place invites too much drama or going to theirs is too much, pick a neutral place.
#9 Bring a gift. Not everyone does this but having your partner bring flowers, wine, or something like that can offer a good first impression. Many people say you should never show up empty-handed. I did this when I met my boyfriend’s mom, but because I live at home, he met my parents in a much more casual way.
If you think your parents would appreciate the gesture, help your partner find something they would like.
#10 Prepare your parents. Don’t just prepare your partner, also be sure to tell your parents what’s going on. Don’t just show up at their door with your live-in partner. Let them know you want them to meet your significant other. Let them know anything they should know. If you fear they’ll say something inappropriate, respectfully let them know you’d appreciate them being on their best behavior.
#11 Let go of control. Remember this isn’t the end all be all. First impressions are not everything. Things may not go as planned, but that is life and it is normal. Try to relax.
This isn’t just about preparing your partner but also preparing yourself. Let things go and have a good time. Remember that this is a good thing and a positive step forward in your relationship.
Learning how to prepare your partner to meet your parents is only partly about them, it’s mostly about you. So follow these tips and you’ll ensure that not only will they make a great impression on your parents, but it would be a wonderful first meeting too!