Meeting parents proves vital to relationship

alexis sachdevColumnist Alexis Sachdev discusses the importance of making a great impression on a lover’s parents.

Spring has finally sprung, and the birds and the bees are humming and buzzing about. But you guys already know about the birds and the bees, right?

It’s no lie that spring is the time for budding and blossoming love. After shedding the layers from our winter hibernation, mating season is upon us once again. But before you and your doe-eyed cutie run off to neck in the woods, there’s that nagging talk you two are bound to have. OK, there are a couple tough questions you two should definitely be asking each other, but I’m talking about the parents.

There are five little words I gush to my mom every so often: “Mommy, I met a boy.” The next four hours or four days, depending how long I’m home, are devoted to her asking every single question about said boy. The worst – and perhaps most annoying – question she poses is when she’ll get to meet him.

I abruptly end the conversation with “Mom, it’s too soon,” and change the discourse to focus on school or my internship hunt.

I struggle with Meet the Parents Day. Hell, I struggle with Meet My Best Friend Day. It’s not that I don’t think my friends and family will adore Lover Boy as much as I do, but it’s just a high-stress situation for me. I always wondered how soon is too soon, and I’ve come to assume that my family will do more to embarrass me than flatter me. And it’s even worse when I meet his parents.

The bottom line is that Meet the Parents Day is vital to the relationship. If the parents hate you, you’re done, kiddo.

While I wish I could say there’s an exact science to meeting the parents, the only absolute in the equation is that the situation won’t be perfect, and you have to come to terms with that. OK, she might not spill your grandmother’s ashes everywhere, but your leading lady will probably say something unintentionally inappropriate, or you’ll get too drunk to calm your nerves – or both. You just have to accept – as I’m trying to do myself – that you can’t control the meeting.

However, there are some steps you can take to improve your likeability. This way, you will only be judged on your personality, and not on your knowledge of the difference between salad and dinner forks.

Do Your Research

My mom insisted that I bring one of my now- former suitors home for dinner one week. When Lover Boy and I walked through the door, he and my mom seemed to get along amicably enough. But by the time dinner was on the table and the wine was poured, the conversation dropped off a cliff.

I talk a lot, and especially about my parents. Much of the time it’s about how crazy they are, but they’re quite fascinating people. Lover Boy probably should have mentally catalogued those conversations to pull out as his last resort during the dreadful encounter.

So pay attention to what the apple of your eye is saying. If she mentions in passing that her father used to play football, ask him about his favorite team. Maybe Lover Boy’s mom owns a flower shop. Bring her some flowers as an instant conversation starter.

The meeting is, after all, an interview to continue dating their son or daughter. Don’t walk into that interview uninformed.

The First Impression

The first impression, much to many people’s dismay, is the most important. Before you even shake Mr. Smith’s hand, he’s judging you.

Guys, make sure that your shirt is tucked in, your boxers aren’t showing and you’re wearing clean shoes. A clean shave never hurts, either.

To my ladies, make sure the girls are tucked away. There’s nothing creepier than catching your boyfriend’s uncle checking out your rack. Actually, it’s best to just make sure you’re more conservative than provocative everywhere.

By all means, display your personal style. Sure, you want the Smiths to see you as you truly are, but it’s never a bad idea to smooth out those rough edges.

Don’t Come Empty-handed

This should already be engrained in your consciousness as a common social grace, but just in case it hasn’t, I’ll reiterate.

It’s nothing short of rude to show up to someone’s house without a small gift. A bottle of wine, a small plant or chocolate will suffice. But be sure to ask your honey before you bring anything to avoid allergies or anything of the sort.

Keep Your Cool

When I was meeting my first boyfriend’s parents back in high school, his dog, Daphne, knocked me down and peed on my leg before I even shook Debbie’s hand. Daphne then proceeded to lick my entire face.

So here I am on their kitchen floor, reeking of dog pee and slobber, meekly saying “Hi” to his parents as mortification creeps up on me. Looking back on it, this might be why I’m a cat person, now.

Daphne taught me an important lesson that day: Murphy’s Law always reigns supreme. But whatever comes at you, keep a smile on your face and let it roll off. Nobody wants their son to date a diva. Except maybe Jay-Z’s mom.

Alexis Sachdev can be reached at asachdev@temple.edu.

 

2 Comments

  1. Too bad this is an overly formalized way of meeting people in the clouds. Most people get along with parents if they receive them as friends of their own, not foreigners. This merely appeals to the latter, darling. And I am sure Jay-Z’s mom thinks Beyonce is a wonderful woman more than just a mere diva. After all, we’re all just human, not superstars, really. Well, except you perhaps.

  2. Have you watched Meet the Parents by Ben Stiller?
    Their parents have different attitude,
    and personalities, yet the two sweethears, were able
    to manage their relationships well….Nice post..

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