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‘Tis the Season to Meet Your Partner’s Parents

Last year they got you the bag you wanted. The year before that were the concert tickets. This year the gift is larger than life, actually it’s their way of further integrating you into their life. This holiday season you are going to meet your significant other’s parents. Cue the confetti, marching band, and the banner that says “Congratulations!!!!” It really is exciting when your significant other wants to introduce you to their family. Yet as exciting as this can be in a relationship, it can also be nerve racking. However, the great news is that it doesn’t have to be if you consider the following.

Dress to impress. Put away those short booty-accentuating bust-showcasing sequined black dresses, miniskirts, cropped tops and cute-cuffed shorts. Instead wear something that is less revealing and still displays your personality. Love some sparkle? Grab that cute shift dress and wear a sequined belt or pair a sequined tank with cute jeans and a blazer. Make sure there are no undergarment lines. Sit down and make sure that your skirt or dress does not ride up your thighs.

Tidy up the natural you. Make a hair appointment, nail appointment, and/ or waxing appointment. Forego the 6-minute shower and take a solid 30 minutes to bathe in the tub.

Prepare to share. Start thinking about how to share who you are and what you want to do in the future as concisely as possible, but be ready to elaborate when extended the opportunity. Don’t start by sharing that it took you nine years to earn your communications degree because you spent two years at one school initially studying to be a marine biologist, then you dated a guy who said you should be a teacher and you did that for a year, post break up you joined Ameri-Corps, came back, decided to be a social worker until you attended an amazing fundraiser for a local nonprofit which drew your heart into communications with an emphasis on event planning. Start with where you are, talk about the positives of the company you work for, and throw in that someday you want to have your own company if that is in fact what you hope to do. If you are unemployed, please don’t share your fantasy job in a way that would suggest you are working such a job. Share that you aren’t working right now and are using your time constructively to volunteer and gain experience as you look for your next gig.

Get your stories straight. Review with your boo the story of how you two met. If it started as a happy hour gone awry or one night stand that blossomed into the relationship you’re in now, you probably won’t want to share that. While I do not recommend lying, there are times when the details are not necessary.

Keep the personal stuff personal. I don’t care how well you hit it off with your boo’s family pre-sitting down to eat: they do not need to know if and how often they are “hitting that” (aka you all’s sex life).

Avoid hot topics. While you’re keeping personal stuff personal, be mindful of hot conversation topics that should be avoided. Such topics may include politics, gender roles, asking the status of family members your significant other shared were recently incarcerated or divorcing, etc.

Talk with tact. Even if dinner is on a boat, please do not curse like a sailor. You are an adult communicating with other adults. No need to have the dictionary app on your phone ready for instant use, but please ladies, talk like a lady.

Mind your manners. Be on time, mindful of how much you are drinking, chewing with your mouth open, or talking with food in your mouth. Elbows off the table. Legs crossed at the ankle and remember to use please and thank you generously. Also, know when to leave. Unless it’s an overnight holiday gathering at the family cabin, don’t overstay your welcome.

Lend a helping hand. Inquire about how you can serve. Whether it is setting the table, folding the napkins, frosting the last of the cupcakes, or entertaining the younger nieces and nephews while the dessert gets brought to the table, be helpful!

Bring a gift. If your budget allows show up with a small thoughtful appropriate gift (i.e. no white zinfandel for the recovering alcoholic) in hand.

Remember to be your best self and have fun. Ultimately you are in the relationship with your significant other and they like you for you, but it’s important to be likable with the family– they are a part of who your significant other is.

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