How To Not Be Nervous Meeting Girlfriend’s Parents
Having root canal at the dentist…
The phrase “we need to talk” …
Speaking in front of hundreds of people with nothing prepared…
These are all things that would get any person pretty nervous, right?
But what if I was to tell you that some people would much rather do all of these things first, before they had to go and meet their girlfriend’s parents for the first time.
If you feel this way, don’t sweat it. Because you’re not the only one. It Is completely normal to be overcome with fear and nerves when faced with the task of showing your girlfriend’s parents that you are in fact normal and not a complete weirdo that they do not trust around their daughter. There is also that niggling thought in the back of your mind that her Dad could be the carbon copy of Stone Cold Steve Austin…
…and absolutely hate you.
There are many others in the same situation
One of the ways I like to beat these nerves is to think back to some of the horror stories my friends have told me when it comes to meeting the girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Because it would be pretty hard to top them.
Like my friend Adam. His story is not like any traditional kind of first encounter with the parents, oh no… This one is special, and is enough to make a Buddhist Monk cringe. For months, Adam was sneaking into his girlfriend’s house late at night and staying over until morning to partake in “things”. Her parents would usually be out of the house early in the morning so there were never any problems.
But one time, they didn’t realize that her Mom had taken the day off to go to the doctors in the morning… So, there was no way that he was going to be able to make a clean escape this time. So, what does he do? Goes downstairs, fixes himself a bowl of cereal and just sits at the kitchen table like he is part of the family…
…apparently, the Mom didn’t say a word to him and it was the most awkward bowl of cereal he’s ever eaten.
Or another story I know from my other friend Steve (I think I need new friends).. He went over to his girlfriend’s house to meet her parents for the first time and have some dinner together. All was going so well. The conversation was flowing nicely, jokes being thrown back and forth. But then it happened…
…he pops a meatball in his mouth and goes to swallow, but that baby was just too damn meaty.
He starts to choke, but not wanting to cause a scene, he sits there in a mild panic. He tries to dislodge the meatball with a sip of water… Nothing. Panic intensifies… His face starts to turn a lovely shade of red & blue. This is when he decides to start pointing to his mouth and making sounds like a Klingon trying to alert everyone at the table that he is being choked out by a ball of meat.
His Mom jumps to the rescue and performs the Heimlich maneuver on him which dislodges that stubborn meatball. But he then promptly vomits all over the dinner table, covering everyone else’s plates. Whilst this has all been going on, the Dad has been sat watching this all unfold in complete silence. He then got up and just left the room…
Those stories make me shudder every single time I think of them, and in a way, they make me feel much better. Because I know, it will be pretty damn hard to make a worse first impression on my girlfriend’s parents.
I know for some, just hearing these stories won’t be enough. But that is okay, I understand. We have all been there, and yes it can be really scary. So here are some other tips to help you feel a bit more at ease and less nervous when you are going to meet your girlfriends’ parents for the first time:
Punch her Dad square in the face at the first given opportunity… Nah I’m just joking, here are the real tips: (Seriously, don’t do that)
On a more serious note
There are several big moments in a relationship that signify that you are moving on to the next level or getting more serious. These can involve the big things like moving in together but it can also include less obvious moments. One of these is meeting your girlfriend’s parents.
Why is this an important moment? Often, it means that your girlfriend has decided that she feels that your relationship has a future and is worth investing time and effort in. She has decided that she has seen that your relationship may continue for a while, so she wants you to become involved with her family, even if it’s just a little at first.
Meeting the parents can have different meanings depending on your girlfriend and her family. Sometimes, it can mean that she is seeking for her parents to “approve” of the boyfriend, albeit in the modern days this is more associated with the desire than the need to be approved…
…she might be looking for support. It can also mean that since the girlfriend sees a future for the relationship, she wants to start creating a relationship between the important people in her life. Also, it can just be something that happens because it seems like the right time.
Whatever the reason, it is often that the person who is going to meet the parents for the first time might feel quite nervous, which can be difficult to handle. How not to be nervous when meeting your girlfriend’s parents? Let’s take a look.
Some useful tips
First of all, something that help with the nervousness is being prepared in advance for the situations that might worry you. This way, you will have a plan to help you through awkward or difficult moments. Consider how you will be addresssing your girlfriend’s parents, plan for some topics of conversation, check what can be some things you have in common.
Have a couple of topics ready. It’s a good idea to ask your girlfriend some basic details about her parents, like their names, some things they might like to talk about, and topics not to mention. While you don’t need to prepare for this like a jo interview, it can be useful to get the basics down, especially because your best source of information is right there. By being a little more prepared, you can improve your confidence and feel a lot less nervous.
Something else to do is to have the meeting in a neutral area, which is not your or their place. That way, there is no added pressure to clean or cook and also no sense that you are in their “territory”, which can reinforce the feeling of being judged. Eating in a nice restaurant or cafe can be a good alternative and is likely to put everyone in a more social and relaxed mood.
Another aspect to consider is what you will talk about. Consider focusing on neutral subjects and avoiding controversial ones, like religion or politics. Talk about yourself, and don’t be afraid to talk to her parents as well and ask them about themselves. Considering what brings you together, talking about how great your girlfriend is seems like a pretty safe topic.
You can also use general techniques to reduce anxiety. You can go for a walk before the meeting to get active, which works especially well if you walk in a green area. You can drink some warm tea or water or eat chocolate, crackers, or chew gum. Something else you can try to do is breathing techniques.
Body language and power pose
A good idea to gain confidence before this meeting is to adopt a “confidence pose”: hands on your hips, legs spread wide, and a smile on your face. Hold this pose for a few minutes, and you will feel more confident during the meeting.
Focus on what makes you nervous. Usually, we get anxious not because of the situation itself but because of the interpretations we make in relation to the situation. For example, in this case you might be focusing too much on the idea that you are being evaluated or that you need to get them to like you because you really like this girlfriend. This means that another strategy you might use to feel more relaxed is to change the way you view the situation…
…If you are seeing it as a test you need to pass, you will likely be more nervous than necessary. However, focus on other aspects. First, consider that you are also meeting your girlfriend’s parents and considering how they are, what they are like, and so on. It is a mutual process, not a one-sided one.
Secondly, consider that it’s more of a social situation. It is important that you have a civil evening but you don’t have to get them to adore you. In most situations, your girlfriend will still choose depending on whether she wants to be with you, even if her parents are not as in love as she is. Shift the focus from “I have to impress her parents” to “let’s see what happens”.
If you feel that you need more tips and even some “extra help” in form of anxiety supplements then read my review of, what I consider to be the best supplement for social nervousness here ,or take look at my article 16 unusual tools for anxiety here.
Final words to take with you
Overall, meeting the parents is just one of the important steps in a relationship and in many cases, not the most important one. While a first impression is important, you will be able to build a good relationship with your girlfriend’s parents as you continue to be together, so not everything hinges on the first meeting…
…relax, breathe deeply, and put your best foot forward and if something is not perfect, don’t worry about it, no one likes perfect people anyway.
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