Introducing your partner to your family is an important milestone in a relationship. But, we think that everyone also agrees, meeting your partner’s family for the first time can be nerve-wracking!
We met each other’s family a while ago when both came to visit us on holidays. Not at the same time though 😀
Was it stressful? Somewhat. Could it be better? Definitely. But no matter what, we are glad we did it because we agree that meeting each other’s family should be done sooner rather than later.
How and when the meeting happened
I met Jess’ mother in November 2019. At that time, we were 8 months into the relationship. Jess’ mom and siblings came for a few days for a holiday. They arrived one morning and went straight to a breakfast place from the airport. Jess and I told her siblings that we would meet them there. It was a bit awkward, though, since Jess’ mom was not expecting to meet this white guy who turned out to be Jess’ boyfriend.
I don’t have a close relationship with my mom. I don’t involve her much in any important decisions in my life. Before Paul, I’ve only introduced her to one boyfriend, and that’s it. When they came to visit, I told my siblings that I would bring Paul to meet them. But I didn’t say anything to my mother, and I told them not to tell her anything. My siblings already knew Paul since they’ve met before. My mother, on the other hand, had no knowledge that I was seeing someone. I guess she was a bit shocked. But since she would find out anyway, I thought I would introduce Paul to her as soon as possible.
It was quite intimidating because Jess’ mom was very conservative. Right away, she talked to us about marriage! I didn’t fully understand what she was saying, unfortunately, because she didn’t talk much English, so Jess had to translate back and forth for us. She was like Jess in this case; she didn’t beat around the bush. Jess’ mom said that she wanted her daughter to get married as soon as possible (Jess was 33 at that time, and her younger sister had already married). I asked her a few questions about her expectations, but since we didn’t have any plan to get married anytime soon, most of the time I was just trying to understand her point of view. Before the meeting, I didn’t have any idea of what she was like. I had only heard about her from Jess (which was not much, to begin with).
Oh boy, that meeting was disastrous. My mom just didn’t understand the concept of cohabitation—she was very religious and conservative, so she wanted me to get married. I tried discussing this with her a long time ago; for me, getting married or having kids are not priorities, and she couldn’t take it. It was awful that Paul had to go through that. So it wasn’t a successful meeting. I guess it might be better if I prepped both Paul and my mom beforehand, but what’s done is done.
Oh well, at least I’ve tried to make a good impression.
Meeting Paul’s parents was the exact opposite, if I may say that.
My parents were chill. I already told them a lot about Jess. My mother couldn’t wait to meet her. I couldn’t wait for my mom to meet Jess. They also came for a holiday, arriving on January 1st and stayed for two weeks. I bought them flight tickets, so they could come and visit us, and we made a plan on what to do while they were here. It was overall a smooth experience.
I felt comfortable enough when meeting Paul’s parents, not only because he had told me about them and them about me, but also because we made plans on what to do and where to bring them. They had never been to Asia before, so we wanted to make sure that they had the best time while they were here. We tried to accommodate their wants, and we met them almost every day during the two weeks.
It was overwhelming for me because social interaction exhausted me. I needed some alone time to recharge. Sometimes I would skip a day, and Paul would take over, or they would do things on their own. But we had a lot of fun: road trips to the beach and waterfall, dinner at nice restaurants, diving. It was nice to be able to interact with them in different settings and slowly build the relationship over time—not just over an hour dinner meeting.
Meeting your partner’s family for the first time: 6 things to do
From what we have experienced, here are the things that we think every couple should do to prepare for the family meeting.
Prepare them about what to expect from them with as much detail as possible. Give your partner a guide on how to interact with them. It will help ease their mind before the event.
It will help break the ice, and it is a nice gesture that will create a lasting impression. Could be something you buy, or make yourself!
Be genuinely interested in what they are talking about. Don’t just wait until it’s your turn to speak. Try to understand their perspectives. Ask questions about them.
Not your family, your friends, especially not your partner. It will make you sound like you’re an a-hole.
Try to make an effort of putting on your best appearance. It doesn’t mean that you have to be someone that you’re not, but you will feel more confident because you have come prepared.
You are special to them, so it is important for them to feel accepted. Remember that it is not easy for them, so you have to make sure that they know you have their back every step of the way.