By Jordan Elizabeth. Meeting the parents can be one of most stressful things in a relationship. After all, we’re taught from an early age that in-laws are horrible people who hate you just as much as you hate them. But it doesn’t have to be like that! Unless they are horrible people. But you can still be liked! I’ve met quite a few parents in my time (okay that makes me sound like a floozy) and have always gotten a stellar report card. Whatever, just listen to my advice:
- Be Cute, Not Pretty Impressing them starts before you even leave your house. The best way to get his parents to love you is to look like you could be their well-mannered daughter, not a dumb slut who is stealing their son and moved in with him just so she could afford to live in something larger than a studio apartment. Wearing something nice like a semi-casual dress or jeans and nice top makes you seem approachable and very girl-next-door. There is a reason everyone loves this elusive “girl next door.” She is nice, probably got good grades in school, will treat others with care and respect, and definitely didn’t get pregnant at the prom. This is not the girl who will try to get frisky in a movie theater (I’m talking to you, Alanis Morissette). This is a girl all parents will like.(This is mainly for mom. Dad will still like you if you wear something wildly inappropriate like a tube top. In fact, he may like you more).
- Be Yourself Unless you’re rude and have a mouth like Jenny McCarthy on a juice cleanse. Then don’t be yourself. Be the nicer, edited version of yourself. Remember, that his parents don’t have to love you unconditionally like your parents do. So keep the ugly parts of yourself hidden until you get home. Then you can open Pandora’s box on your boyfriend and make him put up with it.
- Be Chatty! No one likes the girl who hides behind her boyfriend and gives one word answers. You’re meeting them for the first time, so tell them about yourself! Keep in mind your significant other probably hasn’t told them much about you or your background (he probably stuck with general phrases like “I met her at bar trivia night,” “she’s from Indiana,” and my least favorite, “she’s a good girl”) so there should be many, more specific things to talk about. It’s really not rocket-science. Just try not to look like you could be a sociopath.Even more importantly, you should always ask them questions! Okay yes, they are totally vetting you to make sure you’re good enough for their child. But asking questions about them and how they met is a great way to show them you’re not a total narcissist and it takes the heat off you. It’s a win-win!
- Compliment Their Son... Nothing flatters a parent more than hearing how good of a job they did raising their offspring. Is he good at fixing stuff? Treats you well? Funny? Caring? Knows your order at Chipotle? Great! Pepper these compliments in throughout. Example: “Oh, that’s so funny, Mr. Fazio! I can see where Anthony gets his sense of humor!” See what I did there? I told everyone they were a regular Richard Pryor and now everyone loves me. Easy as that.
- ...But Then Find The Thing That Drives Them Nuts and Commiserate Does he take his socks off and leave them precisely wherever he was standing at the time and never in the hamper? I’m willing to bet he’s done that all this life and it drove his mother up the wall, too. Some light-hearted ganging up on your loved on is a great way to bond. After you laugh with mom about how, he never responds to a text or email in a timely fashion, you are now “in it together” and she’s on your side. This will come in super handy when later on in the relationship when he’s short with you in front of his parents - mom will jump to your defense and tell him not to speak to you like that. (True story!) I’m not saying you want his parents to like you more than him...but it definitely doesn't hurt.
- Always Write A Note Everyone loves a thank-you note, especially those over the age of 40. After you meet the parents, write a note thanking them for dinner / having you / meeting you - whatever it is you did. (Even if she made a creamed corn casserole that gave you terrible gas.) Make her feel like a regular Rachael Ray and send a note. It’s alarming how few people still write thank you notes. A text or email doesn’t count. Spending the time to sit down and actually write out your appreciation goes a long way. It shows you care, and there’s the added benefit of reminding them a few days later how much they liked you, and gets you another gold star.
At the end of the day, meeting the parents is not that difficult. Remember, if you’ve made it as far as meeting the folks, you’re already in. Generally, if their son likes you, parents will be excited to meet you and assume the best. All you have to do is not mess it up for two hours and you’ve nailed it! Having them love you forever? That’s a whole other conversation and hours of group therapy. Or group drinking. But laying the groundwork early ensures they’ll cut you slack later, when you demand to spend every holiday with your family.