Solidify your relationship status
So, you’re dating this guy. You see him three times a week but are still wondering “what are we?” because you’ve never outright discussed exclusivity. Well, things are going to get pretty awkward at brunch when your dad exclaims, “It’s so great to finally meet my daughter’s boyfriend!”, and your date is standing there looking like Bambi in the headlights of an F150 because he thought you were just hooking up.
“Before I introduce a guy to my family and vise versa,” says Faye, 28. “I make sure that we not only discussed our relationship status, but that we have an idea of what we want out of the arrangement long-term.”
Visit the following questions pre-omelets with Mom and Dad: Are you two boyfriend and girlfriend (aka, “offish”)? Dating with the end goal of moving in together? Getting married? Spawning children? If it feels too soon to have “the talk” with the person you’re dating, it may be too soon for a parental introduction, too.
Pinpoint common interests
It’s a simple concept: when people have something in common, they’re more likely to enjoy each other’s company. And here are three humans that you know well and care about, so find something your SO has in common with each of your parents and tip him off on that. If he shares a love for golf with Dad and Mom’s home state of Connecticut, everyone will benefit from him sliding birdies and nutmeg into the convo early on.
“The girl I’m seeing told me how much her mom loves books,” says Mike, 27. “When we met, I brought up what I was currently reading and it turns out we have the same favorite author. The common ground made a great starting point for easy-flowing conversation.”
To clarify, I’m not saying that if your dad is a crazy Broncos fan, you should tell your boyfriend to pretend to root for Denver… but you may consider having him keep his Tom Brady fandom under wraps for now.
Reveal personalities and pet peeves
Parents are charmingly quirky in their own ways -- and that’s why we love them! But familial intros are innately nerve-racking. It’s a good idea to give your SO a little prep course on any idiosyncrasies, lest Mom’s bluntness or Dad’s introversion catches your boo off guard.
“It definitely puts me at ease when a guy tells me what I’m getting into with his parents,” says Tess*, 28. “If I know about certain character traits beforehand, I won’t take their actions personally and I’ll feel more comfortable being myself.”
Also mention if your folks have specific gripes or preferences. Like, please don’t let me walk into your house with shoes on if that will send your OCD mother into a tizzy, and don’t let me call your father Bob if he prefers Mr. Greene.
Discuss dress code
Fashion makes a statement. And you have the power to provide your mate with intel that ensures his/her ensemble choice -- and first impression -- are both good ones. True, telling someone you’re dating how to dress can be touchy -- it can come off as naggy, or like you don’t trust him/her to impress your family. It’s all in the context and delivery. For instance, don’t say something vague and insulting to your girlfriend like, “My mom will think you’re trying too hard if you wear heels.” (True story, that was said to me once. Ouch.) But, you can elaborate on the day’s plans and suggest appropriate attire: “We’ll be in my family’s backyard all day, so wear comfy shoes!”
Your end goal: be helpful, not unkind. If you still feel uneasy about speaking up, just imagine how much worse it will be if bae rolls up to your parents’ no-jeans-allowed country club in Dungarees.
Additional advice to guys: don’t EVER wear a T-shirt broadcasting the name of a strip club across the front. If her dad’s a frequent patron, it’s hard to say who will feel more uncomfortable.