You’ve met, dated and had fun, and the clumsy first sex encounter is a distant memory. You are like a well oiled engine in that department, purring along with smug satisfaction. You’ve been introduced to each other’s friendship groups, perhaps even work colleagues. You are an official couple, so now the last thing to do is the family introductions.
For many, introducing your lover to your parents and family is comparable to shoving hot pokers into your eyes. Suddenly you revert to that 12-year-old, being scolded for leaving your math homework until you’re on the school bus on the way to class.
My own experience of introducing boyfriends has been very small. The first time my mother took him to be a removal man, as I was moving house at the time, I didn’t correct her. The same boyfriend introduced me to his elderly parents as his lodger, so I think we evened things up on that score.
The next one was easy. His mother was dead, but he took me to the grave site, which completely weirded me out! How are you meant to make polite conversation with a rectangle of granite?
The penultimate one seemed to go really well. We had a laugh and had shared interests, we discussed everything and anything, only a little later to realise they were poisoning my partner’s mind against me. The rot with that one had started to set in before the meeting. He had bunny-boiling tendencies that would keep a rabbit breeder in exotic holidays for a lifetime. But that incident did make me think, beause for some parents there is never anyone good enough for their darling (borderline psychotic) son.
With my husband’s family, we travelled up to his Scottish family home, with me anxiously trying to remember Scottish historic events (I have no idea why, but it was something tangible I could think about as we motored near my relationship parole hearing). For some reason I was having nightmares involving the Mel Gibson film Braveheart and the Sci-Fi film Avatar; the blue faces did something to my subconscious.
It could have been worse; it could have included the Smurfs and magic mushrooms. I needn’t have worried. We arrived, had a cup of tea and exchanged pleasantries, then swiftly went out for a meal, where we all consumed far too many bottles of wine. I was then regaled with drunken stories of a New Year’s Eve celebration where my future mother-in-law laughed about the historic sun-lounger wrestling incident. This is not listed in any Scottish history book, however I do believe there is a Wikipedia log of the account somewhere.
I was instantly accepted and welcomed as one of the family, which I am forever grateful, and we’ve never discussed the subject of Scottish history.
The top tips I would recommend for any first family meeting are as follows:
- Consider the impact of meeting someone new. If you are traveling a fair distance, book into a hotel rather than staying over. This negates the discussion of sharing a bed and the sleeping arrangements. If it’s a few days this can be very exhausting for everyone concerned, and tensions could arise.
- Keep things convivial and fun, and have topics of conversions to discuss (perhaps not the historic significance of Braveheart).
- When meeting the parents, do it on a one-on-one basis rather than en-masse family gathering. This doesn’t allow the parents to really get to know you as the significant other in their little boy’s life.
- Ask your boyfriend before meeting his parents what topics of conversation should be avoided, in addition to any habits that drive his mother up the wall.
- Public Displays of Affection. You may want to jump your partner’s bones at every opportune moment, and have regular impromptu passionate kissing sessions. Some parents will appreciate these actions, others will not. Best to avoid a public passion fest over your future mother-in-law’s hostess trolley. Besides, the Victoria sponge cake may get damaged.
- Know you manners, and say please and thank you. You can never be too polite. Arrive with an appropriate gift, but run it by your boyfriend before buying. The last thing you want to do is give your future ex-alcoholic father-in-law a 10-year-0ld bottle of malt whiskey. Another big plus is to send a thank-you card for the hospitality.
- You may well be a cutting edge fashionista, with a collection of tattoos and piercings on full display. Try and tone it down. It’s fine to have your own individuality, but dress appropriately for the surroundings.
- Act appropriately. If out at a restaurant, only order booze if they do.Ordering a mini keg of beer and after shots may be fine for a lunch with pals before hitting the bars for an all-night bender, but if you’re going to a garden center later for afternoon tea, it’s not going to go down too well.
Ultimately, meeting the parents can be amazingly fabulous and awful in the same measure. You are going to meet the people that made the guy you love the person who he is now (unless, of course, he’s gone through years of therapy beforehand).
No pressure, just smile and nod, and don’t forget to say thank you.