How to Introduce your Boyfriend to your Parents

Dinner on a yacht for the parental meet and greet? He must be really special -- because no one can escape!
Dinner on a yacht for the parental meet and greet? He must be really special -- because no one can escape!
Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Introducing your boyfriend to your parents is a big step in any relationship. Not only does it send a clear signal to them that you two aren't just hanging out and having fun, it allows them to finally put a face with the name that's been mentioned more times than they care to count. Meeting the parents is a good move to make for couples who plan to take their relationship to the next level. When you bring the important people in your life together, it's meaningful, but it can also be stressful. You have to find a way that makes everyone comfortable and ultimately opens the door for future interactions.

If you are ready to take this crucial step, how exactly should you introduce your beloved to your parents? Where should you meet? At a wine bar for one drink and a quick "hello" or dinner at your house so everyone can really get to know each other better? These are some of the topics we'll look at in this article. But first, how do you know when the time is right to introduce that special man in your life to your folks? Let's find out.

So You Want Him to Meet Your Parents?

First of all, you have to ask yourself, "Is it time?" Unfortunately, there's only one clear-cut answer to this question: It depends. It depends on what type of relationship you have -- and what type of relationship you want. If you know each other well enough and think there's a possibility that you have a future together, it might be a good idea to introduce your folks to him. It might not be a good idea to introduce them to the new guy you just met at your girlfriend's house party last week. Talk to your sweetie and make sure he's comfortable meeting the family, too.

Once you figure out the timing, you need to establish the parameters around when the introductions take place. First and foremost, make sure your folks know about him. You don't want to spring him on them if they don't even know he exists. Can you say "awkward?" The next step is to match up the three schedules: yours, your man's and your parents'. If your parents are divorced, you might need even more time to play musical chairs. For example, will each divorced parent be allowed to bring their spouse or their significant other? You don't need to host a family reunion, but it is courteous to make sure the essential players are involved. The key here is to be as flexible as possible.

Now that the "who's coming" is all worked out, it's time to make the plan. Where do you get together? There are many options that are appropriate for the first meeting, like dinner at your favorite sushi spot or brunch at the new Italian restaurant. How about an NBA or NFL game? Or appetizers and dessert at your place featuring a recipe you whipped up from one of Rachael Ray's books? If you don't want to spend a lot of time together for the first meeting, make it short and sweet. A quick "hello" at a coffee house or local bakery will do just fine. Now that the nuts and bolts have been worked out, let's talk about what to do to get ready for the event.

The Meeting Before the Meeting

OK, so everyone has agreed to meet your beau. Remember, this is a big deal. So take the time to talk to him about his feelings and expectations. It's important to try to make him feel as comfortable as possible. Share a little bit of family information with him. He might find it helpful to know that your mom is the "Jeopardy" champion of your household or that your dad is the one with the green thumb. In turn, have a conversation with your parents ahead of time. A little background about your new boyfriend will go a long way in helping to break the ice. Let them know where he's from, what he does for a living, what his interests are and even his goals and dreams. This is also the time to discuss with both of them the topics that are the forbidden fruit of the evening. This will prevent dinner being shut down before the entrée is served.

It's also an opportunity for you to get in touch with your own feelings. There probably will be a million questions swirling around in your head: "What if my parents don't like him?", "Should he call them by their first names?", "What if my mother makes another smart comment about the age of my dad's new wife?" Don't stress yourself out about these "what-ifs," but do acknowledge your feelings and apprehensions. At the end of the day, remember that you aren't tasked with finding the cure for the common cold. You're just introducing him to your parents.

Most importantly, use this time to figure out the answer to the most important question: What do you both wear? Do you wear your tried and true little black dress or should you rock your new red slacks? How about him? Jacket and tie? Slacks and an oxford shirt? Or a sports jersey and Levis? Both of your attires should match the occasion so as not to raise the eyebrows or ire of your parents. That's why you two need to have a dress code conversation before the doorbell rings. Now on to the get-together.

The Meeting

Make sure to keep the conversation casual when your boyfriend meets your parents for the first time.
Make sure to keep the conversation casual when your boyfriend meets your parents for the first time.
Comstock/Thinkstock

When you get to the spot, start with introductions and light conversation to get things warmed up. You warm up before your kickboxing class, right? So, it's probably a good idea to do the same for this meeting. The first few minutes of small talk is also a good time for him to present your mom (and stepmother if it's a group effort) with the single rose or box of chocolate-covered pretzels he picked up along the way.

Keep the conversation casual but informative. Encourage him to talk about his background and share a little bit about himself (making sure to stay away from the pesky forbidden fruits). Help guide the conversation to topics like sports, news and current events. It's also OK to throw in some pop culture conversation about music and reality TV. Stay away from subject matters that could potentially ignite the flames, like who's right? The Dems or the Tea Party? If you do go there, keep it friendly if you find that he's disagreeing with them a lot.

If everything is going great, we're happy for you. If things are going downhill, it might be time to pull out that "Plan B" you have tucked away in your clutch. "What could go wrong?" you ask. Plenty. For starters, as time goes on, you may realize that your boyfriend and one of your parents mix together as well as oil and water. Or, your divorced parents get into a heated argument with each other. Or worse, someone spills red wine on your white pants. Remain calm and let your family know that the "date" is going to end early by thanking them for the company and either offering up an excuse to leave early or just bolting for the door. However, offer to pay your portion of the check, before saying goodnight.

If things do go well, the signs won't be hard to read. If your honey gets invited to the annual Thanksgiving dinner on the spot, or you mom doesn't wait for you to get home before she calls you on your cell to say she approves, it's safe to say that in their eyes, he's a keeper.

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Sources

  • Calecham, Steve. "Ace 5 Crucial Relationship Moments". Men's Health. (Oct. 8, 2010)http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/essential-relationship-tips/index.php "Dating Statistics: Top Dating Tips Poll Statistics". (Oct. 19, 2010)http://www.topdatingtips.com/dating-statistics.htm "How to Introduce Your Family to your Boyfriend". Sept. 29, 2009 (Oct. 8, 2010) http://www.onlinedating.org/how-to-introduce-your-family-to-your-boyfriend
  • McVey, Richard. "Smooth Moves: Meeting Her Parents". Maxim. April 16, 2009 (Oct. 13, 2010). http://www.maxim.com/humor/stupid-fun/77288/smooth-moves-meeting-her-parents.html
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