I am most fortunate to have come from a loving home filled with laughter, love, and lots of family time. Naturally, it was an easy slide to begin dating a man who values family as a high priority. However, when it came time to meet the faces belonging to his previously shared anecdotes, I will confess to a little over-analyzing and nervousness (okay a lot).
After imagining the situation in a dozen different ways, I decided the best effect would be honesty. I am a naturally introverted person and prefer to listen, inhabiting the “wallflower” persona at many-a-party. However, I realized that these people were anticipating my arrival and would want to get to know this girl for whom their son/ brother was starting to “fall.” So, I gave a tune-up to my acting skills, put on my undetectable business suit, and opened my mouth…
Conversation: I have been blessed with a personality that favors ease of communication, but I will say that the Art of Conversation had to be learned. The best way to avoid awkward pauses is to stay engaged. This is not to say you much imitate the Energizer Bunny, which can be exhausting for both parties. Natural lulls in conversation will develop. The trick is to ask questions based on what you know and what you are finding out. Essentially, good conversation is good listening. Share your own stories and thoughts if relevant, but also keep a handle on your womanly “spaghetti brain” that links one bit of information to ten other similar experiences.
A Helping Hand: If your beau’s parents are not local, you might find yourself a guest in their home. You will either receive the royal treatment, or be considered a part of the family…both of which can be compliments. What will be appreciated, regardless of your given status, will be an offer to help. Even if the offer is turned down, parents will likely remember your sign of gratitude.
Participate: If you’re meeting the family at a restaurant, not much can be done except hold good conversation and eat gracefully. However, if you find yourself invited to attend a holiday party or join an outing, don’t be timid to jump in on the fun. Engage your inner child in the backyard football game, show off your skills on the piano, pipe in your opinion when choosing the movie, etc. Since actions often speak louder than words, this will show them a less serious side and help you loosen up. Also, it will likely enhance the “endearment” factor with your boyfriend, which is always desirable.
Thank You Note: When you arrive back home, be sure to send a thank-you note for any overnight stays, paid meals, or special tokens. If none of these apply, get a new boyfriend. Ha! Just kidding! Instead focus on the appreciation you have for the family’s gift of time and sharing themselves because it helps you get to know your hunky man.
These tips definitely added to the comfort of my stay and a growing relationship with my beau’s family. May you have much practice and a little luck with them too!