If you’ve been with the same woman for any length of time, you’ll probably be asked to meet her parents. Meeting Mom and Dad can be an important step in any relationship, and it’s the time for them to finally put a face to “that man” they’ve been hearing about. And, while your girlfriend has already laid some groundwork by telling them what a great guy you are, you’re still going to have to live up to the hype. Whether it’s dinner at their house or getting together the next time they’re in town, your first time meeting her parents is an event that deserves preparation.
The normal rules of meeting people and conversation still apply — make lots of eye contact, ask questions and so on. But there’s also some specific guidance just for this situation. Read on for 10 tips on meeting (and impressing) the parents.
Dress to impress
This is hardly unique to meeting her parents, but we still felt it earned a spot on the list. The way you dress says a lot about you, so you’re going to want to send the right message to her parents, since it shapes how they’ll picture you for the rest of the relationship. Even if your normal look is pretty casual, try to avoid sending the image of “slob.” And don’t overdress — if you look like you came straight from the office, you’ll look like you work all the time. Besides impressing her parents, dressing nicely makes you feel more confident, and appearing confident and relaxed is a huge part of making a charming first impression.
Review how you’ll describe your career
Take the time to rehearse your elevator pitch about who you are and what you do. If you’ve never heard the phrase “elevator pitch,” it’s the pitch you would give if you ended up sharing an elevator ride with somebody who could make or break your career. When her parents ask about your work, you want to hit them with a quick (remember, length of an elevator ride), impressive summary of what you do. You will seem career-minded without talking on and on about yourself, and if they want to know more, they’ll ask
Be ready to share some of your goals
We know we just said to avoid talking too much about yourself. Still, you definitely want to share some of your goals for the future, too. Her parents will want to know that their little princess has found a man with ambition and ideas for the future. Don’t limit yourself to career talk — sharing some of your personal and travel goals will make you seem more well-rounded. Talking about your plans for the future demonstrates that you’re goal-oriented and trying to improve things for yourself and your partner.
Get ready for this like it’s a first date, which it kind of is. Get a haircut if you need it, and make sure you’re clean-shaven or freshly trimmed if you have facial hair. And, for the love of god, put on some deodorant, like Gillette® Clinical, which provides effective protection in stressful situations and will keep you three times drier*. The last person your girlfriend or her parents will want to spend an evening with is a stressed, sweaty mess.
Get your stories straight on how you met
It’s entirely possible your girlfriend has built up how you met to try to impress her parents. If there are any embellishments to the story, you’ll want to know them. If you met in a singles bar, or it started as a casual hookup that grew into something more, you’re definitely going to want to have a different tale to tell. Get the scoop from your girlfriend so that your stories line up.
Know the topics to avoid
Find out from your girl what topics her parents either get worked up about or will talk about for hours on end. Avoid these, and you’ll keep the conversation snappy and fun. Politics, money, your living situation and religion are the biggest no-nos, but her parents may have other hot buttons. For instance, if there’s drama in the extended family, and Aunt Sally is up to her same old ways, you should avoid asking about the extended family.
Prep for the Q&A
Her parents are going to be curious about you, so be ready to field their questions. This is pretty much mental prep, so take a minute to wrap your head around the fact that you’re about to get peppered with questions like an NBA player who just put up a triple-double. They won’t give you the third degree, but when you’re the one in the hot seat, it can feel that way. Just put yourself in their shoes: They care about their daughter, who cares about you, so naturally they’re going to be very interested in you. Get comfortable with the idea that lots of questions are coming your way, and you’ll be more at ease when the “interview” starts.
Prep Yourself Not To Curse Or Drink Too Much
This one’s real simple: Don’t swear and don’t tell any dirty jokes. Your buddied might be impressed by how much alcohol you can hold or how colorfully you can swear, but those qualities definitely won’t win you many points with her parents. Getting drunk is the worst thing you could do, and the temptation will be there if the situation makes you nervous. Control your drinking, or if you’re worried about overdoing it (or her parents don’t drink), just skip it altogether.
Bring a small present
You’ll never be out of line bringing a little something if it’s dinner at a restaurant. Something small like a bottle of wine or some chocolates is fine. If you’ve been invited to their home, definitely bring a gift. Something for the kitchen, like spices or a bottle of Champagne, would be nice. Again, talk to your girl to make sure there’s nothing you should avoid bringing (like wine if they’re recovering alcoholics).
Plan an exit strategy
Have a plan for how/when you’ll excuse yourself for the night. Ideally, you should meet her parents over dinner or coffee, not a weekend getaway at their lake house. Having something else planned for later in the evening is good, as is having to go to bed early the day before a big project. When things start winding down, you can pull the rip cord and leave. What you don’t want to do is stay until the bitter end — leave on a high note and they’ll look forward to seeing you again.