Meeting your boyfriends parnets for the first time

Step 1: The Talk

Perhaps one of the most essential things you and your boyfriend need to do before meeting his parents for the first time is have “The Talk“. In this conversation you want to get as much information as you can about his parents. Some questions you should ask your boyfriend should include:

*TIP* Make this a fun, light-hearted conversation. Make sure your boyfriend is relaxed, full, and not pre-occupied in something else. Consider sharing funny stories about your childhood too!*

Are both parents your biological parents? – There is nothing more embarrassing than saying to his father, “I see where Mike gets his good looks from!” only to find out later this man is actually Mike’s step or adopted father.

What is your relationship like with your mom and dad? – Does your boyfriend despise his father and sanctify his mother? Is he neutral about both? Does he love them both dearly?

Where do they live? – Know what state, town, and style of home they live in.  Do they live in a mobile home in a rural area, or maybe a condo in a suburb? Do they live in a grand estate in the Hamptons or an apartment in the city? This information is important also for making an excellent first impression and will be discussed more in Preparing to meet.

Have they always been in your life? – Knowing this can save you from an embarrassing situation such as saying, “Tell me about Mike as a baby” if his mother gave him up for adoption at birth and came back into his life later.

What was the atmosphere in your home like when you were living there? – Find out if it was tumultuous, happy, normal, abusive, fake (as in putting on a show), loving, strict, overly religious, free or extremely natural.

Listen carefully to what he has to say about this.

If he describes his childhood as tumultuous and abusive, you may need to brace yourself for awkward silences, mean or snide remarks, yelling, or even arguments. To try and offset unpleasant situations see Reactions.

If he describes his home as strict and fake you may consider things such as being very lady like, making only pleasant conversations and following all rules and customs that family may have.

If he describes his family as very or overly religious check the following long before you hit the door; swearing, drinking, smoking, excessive piercings, suggestive language, revealing or tight clothing and try to hide major tattoos. Many people who are religious can sometimes consider these things morally wrong, or disrespectful.  See Be Your Self

If he describes his family as loving and happy expect to be warmly welcomed, showered with compliments, hugged immediately, friendly or curious touching of your hair and clothing, and many offers drinks and snacks. Accept all graciously, moderately, and with a good natured smile. If touching puts you off see Reactions.

If your boyfriend describes his family as free thinkers, partiers, or extremely natural you should be excited and ready for anything! Prepare for the following; strong opinions about government, religion, major organizations and conspiracy theories.  Also, prepare for freeness in lifestyle. If he has described his family as natural, hippies, or partiers you may expect to see drinking, smoking, scratching of private parts, passing of gas, strange ideas in style of clothing, matching, and appropriateness( such as gardening in a dress and heels)and in some cases nakedness. Try to accept theories and beliefs with an open mind, if you immediately dismiss ideas as “silly” or “crazy” you may make an unpleasant situation. For the rest see Reactions.

Ok, now that you have had The Talk you need to move on to your Prepare to meet stage.

Step 2: Prepare to meet

*TIP* Play this fun and sexy game; ask him to help you pick a few outfits that he thinks would be appropriate for you to meet his parents in. Then let him pick something he would like to see you in right now and also what he would like to see under those carefully pulled together outfits. Wink wink!*

One of the main keys to meeting a boyfriend’s parents is “fitting in”. You want them to be able to look at you and think, “Yes, I would like my son to be with this girl.” You should never consider changing your personality; this will only show up later on as fake or as strange behavior. This is a fine line, but I suggest always going with the “fitting in” stance for first impressions, you only get to make one! Don’t think of this as acting fake but more as a toned down version of yourself. After all, he is taking you home to meet Mom and Dad.

When you prepare to meet his parents you need to look the part, at least on the first day. You want to dress and style yourself in a manner that suites the general tone of his family.

If he comes from a wealthy family that lives in a big 4 story house in a rich part of town, you may consider dressing in a modest skirt and blouse with nice shoes and a few well coordinated pieces of fine jewelry. In this case you might also consider hiding visible tattoos and toning down the amount of visible piercings.

Should your boyfriend come from a middle class family dress in a way that will portray a moderate classiness.  A cute skirt, shoes, and top often define this affinity, as does a pretty top, khaki pants and maybe a pair of designer shoes or handbag.  Middle class families are just that, right in the middle. They like and can afford some of the finer things in life but not all. A good rule of thumb for dressing to meet this family is to wear only one or two fine or designer items, any more than that will give off the impression that you are trying to hard or are too rich and may not be accepted well. NEVER brag about your designer items, if someone asks you, “What brand is that that purse?” smile graciously and give a sweet and simple answer such as, “Coach! Thank you for noticing! I just love these purses when I can get them, you have a really nice sweater on, and where did you get it?” This type of conversation can lead to very pleasant Small Talk which is essential for meeting your boyfriend’s parents the first time.

Does your boyfriend come from a small country town or not very wealthy family? Take this into consideration. Think of it like this, you never want to out shine your hostess. Pack plenty of jeans, cute tops, regular tee shirts, cute but not expensive jewelry and simple shoes. Be sure to pack one or two nice outfits but only wear them at the appropriate time, remember never outshine your hostess. 

Got your suitcase packed? Great! Hey don’t run out the door quite yet, now you need to think about The Trip.

Step 3: The Trip

*TIP* Do things on your trip that you both enjoy such as listen to music or play silly games. Try not to touch subjects that make you argue or fight. Arriving in a bad mood is not on your agenda!*

My first and perhaps most important tip for traveling is watching what you eat. No, I’m not talking about calories and fat, I am talking about what type of food you should eat. Types of food to avoid are among the following. Food with too much garlic or onion, these are known to make your breath smell bad. Avoid food which you know causes you to have gas such as beans and broccoli. Stick to what you know, this is not really the time to experiment with new types of food. You want to be able to enjoy your first evening with your boyfriend’s parents, not hovered over their toilet praying! Shy away from spicy food and sea food as it could upset your stomach. In the last few hours of your trip avoid eating big meals such as massive burgers, big slices of pizza and so forth. Large quantities of food can make you sleepy or disoriented, when you want to be awake and energized.  I bet your thinking, “HEY! That’s pretty much everything! What am I supposed to eat???” I submit to you this, has it ever hurt you to have the chicken burger, salad, baked potato or fruit cup?

Here are a few tips for flying:

Wear comfortable clothing with easily removable shoes; avoid wearing excessive amounts of jewelry. Pack the pre selected outfit and accessories in your carryon bag.

Wear little to no makeup, it has a tendency to run or melt off on long plane rides. Carry just enough makeup in your carryon to “do your face”. About an hour before the plane lands excuse yourself and re apply make up in the airplane bathroom, this is also a good time to put on your jewelry. Remember the lighting tends to be either too harsh or too dim in the plane so always check your make up job before you go to claim your luggage.

Wear your hair in tightly French braided pigtails. When you take them out you will get an effortless wave to your hair that will be great for any location. If you can’t french braid your hair, go with the standard three strand braid or a bun. Avoid at all costs a ponytail. The hair band leaves an unsightly indentation in your hair and often can leave your ends looking frizzy or puffy.

When your plane lands, tell your boyfriend you need to visit the bathroom before you go pick up your luggage. Take that time to change clothes, dab on some perfume or body spray, re-apply deodorant, and freshen your breath and hair.

Avoid airport cocktails. I know it’s tempting, something to settle the nerves. If you feel you must partake keep a 2 drink maximum. That amount of alcohol will most likely relax you without disorienting you.

Tips for road trips:

Wear easy to travel in clothes such as jeans or shorts. Be sure to pack a sweater or light hooded sweatshirt so you can keep warm if you want to sleep and he needs to turn the air conditioner on full blast or roll down the windows.

Wear little to no makeup, it has a tendency to run or melt off on long rides. Carry just enough makeup in with you to “do your face”.  At the last rest stop, gas station or mall, have your boyfriend pull over and let you get out and change, this is also a good time to put on your jewelry . Take that time to dab on some perfume or body spray, re-apply deodorant, and freshen your breath and hair. This is also a good chance for stretching legs and getting in a last cigarette.

*TIP* If your palms tend to sweat when you get nervous making handshaking unpleasant put a thin layer of deodorant on them! This will help reduce moisture.*

Style your hair neatly. If your hair looks windblown use it to your advantage, calm it down a little with some water or mousse. Flip your head upside down a few times and gently frame it around your face. If for some reason you feel there is no hope for your hair, pull it neatly into a bun or braid. This looks more deliberate than just slicking it back into a ponytail.

Step 4: The Big Moment

They are finally insight! Let them take the lead in either giving you a hug or a handshake. Ask your beau if you should address them as Mr. and Mrs. or just by their first names. When in doubt greet them with Mr. and Mrs. Most likely they will say “Oh please call me Mary”

Soon after meeting give one of them a compliment. Such as “I can see where Mike gets that handsome jaw line from Don!” or “Mary, that is such an pretty pair of earrings, I just love them!”. Little things like that will help you gain favor in their eyes.

When you reach the home, dote on how beautiful it is. You love the bricks, or the shutters, what a tall building! How many floors? Look at how much land!

What if the house is not nice? What if you’re in a bad neighborhood? What if the apartment is tiny? Take note of one thing in the home and compliment it like crazy. “This collection is so cute!”, “I love all the pictures”, “Oh this couch is soooo comfortable!” People love to know their home is thought of by others as nice. This will score you major points.

Step 5: Small Talk

So, now you’re armed with basic knowledge of his family, you’ve have arrived and are looking effortlessly gorgeous. You should be ready right? Wrong. Now young grasshopper, you must learn the art of Small Talk.

For some of us small talk comes naturally, for others it’s an achieved art, and yet some of us are more versed in Large Talk. Here is the difference between small talk and large talk, the size of the issue being discussed. Small talk includes the weather, scenery, décor, art, TV shows and other light hearted subjects. Large talk consists of either extremely long winded answers or includes subjects such as religion, politics and money. At all costs, I implore you, stay away from large talk. Everyone knows, if you want someone to like you there are a handful of things you DO NOT talk about.  Here are some examples of things you should not talk about and also how to respond appropriately.

1. Religion- This can include your view on specific religions and your view on agnosticism or atheism.  This also includes conspiracy theories, such as Moon Landing Hoax, Big Brother, and Extra Terrestrial Life. Unless you are positive your views are directly in line with your host’s views leave these subjects alone.

Should your boyfriend’s parents go off on a rant about one of these subjects, good naturedly laugh and say, “Well everyone is entitled to their opinion, that’s why I love to live in this country. Did anyone in your family ever join the service?” (The answer is almost always yes, most of our grandparents got drafted) and most people will not say negative things about military service. Now you have diffused the situation and can head into calmer water.


2. Money- How much you make, where you get money from, spending habits, bill paying methods, and debt are all issues better left not talked about.

If good old Mom or Dad says, “So, how much do you make?” consider an answer like this. “About as much as most nurses” or “About the same as Mike” or “I love being a teacher, the pay is the least of my worries”. This gives somewhat of a vague answer but lets them know you are not going to give a specific answer.

3. Politics- Views on affirmative action, laws and legislation, abortion, politicians and Presidential scandals should not be discussed. Take the Golden Rule approach, and if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

“I hate that old Senator so-n-so, he does no good!” Wow! What a loaded statement! An easy way to diffuse this is to just say, “Maybe, I don’t really follow politics that much. Have you ever been to Washington D.C.? I hear the cherry blossoms are just beautiful!” Even if you do follow politics chatting about different cities you’ve visited is a much more pleasant conversation.


4.  Your past- Do not talk about how many past boyfriends you have had, past failures, abusive relationships or anything that leaves bad memories. There are just some things that his parents just don’t need to know.

“So, you’re a pretty girl, I bet you are beating the boys off with a stick”. Don’t go there! This is usually a question asked by a mother or sister trying to feel you out for how many men you have dated and asses the likelihood of you breaking little Mike’s heart. Just smile and say “Hardly, I really enjoy Mike, he treats me so well. I could believe he brought me here to meet all of you, I was so impressed that he is really taking this relationship seriously!”

5. Lifestyle choices- Discussions about Bi-sexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered and Cross Dresser lifestyles should never be mentioned by you. You never know what skeletons could be lurking in someone’s closet. Take the Golden Rule Approach here too.

Ask your boyfriend to kindly leave out the parts of the story where you got so drunk and made out with a girl. If these subjects become an issue….your kind of out of luck, just smile and nod and change the subject when you can.

Step 6: Small talk

*TIP* If you get caught in a particularly boring conversation or one that you don’t know much about here is a sure fire method for getting out of it. Just don’t use it too often or else people will catch on!  Lean you’re your head slightly to the right, look the speaker directly in the eyes, smile and nod adding in things like “Really?”, “Is that so?”, “Oh wow”, “Cool”. At the first chance you get change the subject to something like “I remember my dad used to do that” or “I read about that, I love to read, what is your favorite book?”.*

 Think of some easy to talk about subjects that leave a lot of room for discussion. Some of the most common things are the weather, children, art, music, TV shows, gardening, fishing, books, technology, cars, cooking, and sports. Pick 3 of the above subjects and keep them in your ‘holster’ in case you need to change a subject quickly.

Remember, people love to talk about themselves so the easiest way to get a conversation going is to ask them a question, and slowly add in information about you! You might say “This is a really interesting painting, where did you get it?” you might get a response such as “Oh I don’t know, a garage sale”. Don’t let the conversation end there, continue on by saying “Oh I love garage sales; you never know what treasures you are going to find! Is that something you do often?”

If you get into a conversation that you don’t know much about, don’t pretend to know about that subject. That is a sure fire way to make yourself look silly. Instead say “Wow, that’s really interesting but I know next to nothing about cars! Mike is always trying to tell me about it but…I just don’t get it. You put the key in the slot right?!”  Ending with a joke will make you come off as funny rather than uninformed.

Step 7: Reactions

*TIP* Reactions are all about staying calm poised and graceful. This is something you can practice all the time in all areas of your life.

Your reactions say a lot about you. If you notice an awkward silence caused by a family fight try to gently coax out a different subject such as saying “Wow, I remember on our trip to Disney Land we would all get into arguments but once we got there we had a blast. Have you guys ever been to Disney Land?” This might seem corny but someone in the room will pick up on the fact that you would like to change the subject. If no one says anything or looks at you crazy let your proposed subject drop.  Ask if you can get a glass of water or excuse yourself to the bathroom. In the company of guests families tend to get over arguments faster. It will probably be all blown over by the time you get back.

If you meet a family who likes to hug you or touch your hair or clothing and that makes you feel weird, your best bet is to voice that to your boyfriend in private. Tell him that you enjoy the compliments; it’s just that all the touching makes you feel a little awkward. Ask him to talk to his parents for you, in the nicest way possible. Unless you are being inappropriately touched never yank away or viciously state “Don’t touch me!” This will embarrass your host and make everyone feel anxious around you. Instead try to sit away from the touch-er. If you can’t seem to get away try and sit between your boyfriend and the edge something.

If you happen to be a bi-racial couple, expect to get some head turns or some sideways looks. Not everyone can deal with this fact. If one of his family members makes a comment about your race, blatantly ignore it. If they continue on excuse yourself to another room. Do not expect your boyfriend to immediately jump up and defend your honor but rather to talk to that person in private in a grown up, dignified way. Do not expect an apology from that person, that way if you do get one it will be a pleasant surprise. Racial slurs should not be tolerated and can often be quailed by saying “Yes, that may be true about some individuals in my race but we also have some of the hardest working people I have ever seen.”  Or, “It seems rather unfair to judge a whole group of people based on the actions of a few.” Taking a negative and turning it into a positive many times can change a whole conversation.

The good, the bad and the strange. Every once and a while you will run into the unabashed father or brother. He might expel gas, scratch himself, or walk around in various states of undress. Try not to let it bother you. If this behavior is happening around you, it’s not likely it will ever change. If anyone expels gas, act like you hear or smell nothing at all. If it is right in the middle of them speaking to you just laugh and say, “Oh wow that was a big one!” and resume your conversation immediately. If this behavior becomes too much or too disgusting excuse yourself into a different room and see if your boyfriend will intercede for you. If nothing will sedate this unpleasant behavior suggest taking a walk, going to the mall, seeing the sights or any other family activity that will get you out of there!

Step 8: Respect

*TIP* Have your boyfriend give you a goodnight kiss and hug in front of your door before you enter your separate sleeping quarters for the night. It will bring back the memories of when you first started dating.*

Are his parents old fashioned and don’t want you to sleep in the same room? Don’t argue the point you have been seeing each other for 2 years now. Just respect their wishes. Does his mom not like your tongue ring? Take it out or put in a clear one. If smoking is offensive to them, you might wait till nightfall and sneak one, or just not smoke at all. Respect them, it is their home.  When people show respect for common courtesy they gain respect. It’s only for a few days anyway right?

Step 9: Be yourself, it’s bound to come out anyway!

*TIP* Remember, no one ever makes the perfect first impression. If something went wrong, brush it off and recover. Obviously your boyfriend sees something awesome about you, he did bring you home to meet Mom and Dad didn’t he? Keep in mind, the fact that he wanted to bring you to meet them is the big deal.

Do you feel like your dressed weird? Talking weird? Being too miss nice girl? Is this all just not you? Listen, you’re not changing you, you are for the first meeting presenting a toned down, version of you.  Tomorrow show his mom your tattoo on your arm, tell her why you got it and what it means to you.  Then maybe the next day add in a few more of your piercings, or ask if they mind if you step out back to have a cigarette. Show that offbeat humor that your known for. Slowly integrate your own personality, after all you want them to like you, not Stepford-You.



Jodie is a happlily married stay at home mom who loves giving real life advice.

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Originally posted 2011-03-02 11:03:23.

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