Don't let the movie Meet the Parents frighten you - visiting your boyfriend's parents' home for the first time doesn't have to be a scary experience. What it is for everyone involved is an opportunity to see how well you mesh with your boyfriend and his family in their natural element. It would probably be fine to show up, act yourself, and make somewhat of a mediocre impression on his parents. On the other hand, you have the potential to really shine during your visit, let his parents learn a lot about you, and leave them excited about the possibility of welcoming you into their family. If you would prefer this latter scenario, try out these seven tips when you visit your boyfriend's parents' house for the first time.
1. Don't show up empty-handed. An excellent way to make a good first impression on your boyfriend's parents is to bring a gift along. Whether it's food to help with dinner, flowers or a plant, or a homemade present, showing up with a gift will demonstrate your thoughtfulness. Ask your boyfriend for some thoughts about his parents' likes and dislikes to give you some ideas for outstanding gifts.
2. Pitch in. If either parent is engaged in a project - such as cooking, gardening, or cleaning up after dinner - ask if you can lend a hand. I know anytime I brought a significant other home to my parents, my mom would rave for days if he pitched in and complain for days if he didn't. On the flip side, make sure you don't leave a mess behind you. Making your bed, cleaning up your dishes, and even wiping the sink down after you use it will help his parents see you are a good housekeeper and a polite guest.
3. Inquire about your boyfriend. It's no secret - parents love to brag about their kids. Don't wait for his mom to break out the home videos - ask to see childhood memorabilia and hear their favorite stories. His parents will appreciate your interest in getting to know their son on a deeper level, and it will pay to appeal to their sense of parental pride.
4. Engage with the family. Now is not the time for "alone time" with your boyfriend. Whether it's a game of cards, watching a favorite TV show, or just sitting around having good conversation, make sure you participate in whatever the family is doing. They want to get to know you better, see how well you mesh with them, and get an idea of what family means to you.
5. Compliment their home. When you are visiting for the first time, make sure you compliment your boyfriend's parents on their home. Be genuine and specific when doing so, and never point out inadequacies - not even privately to your boyfriend. You never want your boyfriend or his parents to feel judged when you visit, or as if they have to make sure every nook and cranny is scrubbed in order for them to pass your inspection.
6. Sleep separately. Even if you are used to sleeping in the same bed on your own time, and even if his parents wouldn't mind if you shared a bed with your boyfriend, insist upon sleeping in a separate room from him when you come to visit. It will make his parents feel more comfortable, and it will give them confidence in the fact that your relationship is not based on physical intimacy.
7. Remember to say "thank you." Of course, you should mind your manners the entire time you stay at your boyfriend's parents' house, but remember to give them a heartfelt thank-you at the end of the visit. I am a big proponent of hand-written thank-you cards. Send one right away to leave an excellent impression on your potential future in-laws.
If you follow these tips, you're more likely to be remembered fondly by your name rather than vaguely as "that one girl." You're more likely to get an enthusiastic parental seal of approval when your boyfriend wants to take your relationship to the next level. And you're more likely to leave more closely bonded to your boyfriend because you've really started to become part of his family. Seize the opportunity to shine, and be proud of your success when his parents end your visit with a genuine: "Come back again soon!"
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