Meeting Friends and Family

Along with dating someone comes meeting their family and friends. A lot of emotions come along with meeting the people closest to your significant other, such as excitement and nervousness.

Sometimes it goes well, but sometimes it doesn’t. How can you avoid the latter?

First, ask your significant other about his or her friends, such as their occupation or interests, and especially about topics that you should stay away from that you wouldn’t otherwise know to do so. I once dated a guy who was recently engaged but was having major arguments with his wife-to-be because she didn’t want to surrender her last name nor hyphenate it, and even said she didn’t want her children to have his last name.

If you’re in a location where alcohol is being served then drink less than you normally would. The goal isn’t to get drunk- the goal is to meet the family and friends. Sure, drinking may loosen your inhibitions and thus make it less stressful for you, but may cause you to also act in ways you wouldn’t normally.

Think of questions to ask or topics to bring up. Some suggestions are:
• What do you do for a living? (Or, if you already know, then something like “[Partner’s name] tells me that you’re a teacher, what subject do you teach?”)
• What are some good dishes/drinks here? (If you’re at a bar or restaurant. This can lead to talking about food and beverage preferences, which can turn into talking about local restaurants, which can turn into what the person does in their free time, etc)
• Tell me about your family.
• See any movies recently?
• “So, outside of [profession], what do you enjoy doing?” is another one I like to ask after finding out about their job.
• Ask who, what, when, where, why, and how questions as opposed to questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”

Don’t cling so much to your significant other. Stand strong on your own. It’s attractive when a partner can hold his or her own in a room full of people and engage them.

There’s always someone who is practically impossible to engage in conversation. Be polite, but don’t spend too much time talking to this person. If they’re closed off then that’s not your problem. Even this is a very important person in your significant other’s life don’t force anything.

If someone is rude or concerning to you then it’s OK to pull your partner aside and calmly explain that you feel uncomfortable and would like help to make the situation easier. Don’t be dramatic and say you want to leave. Just ask for assistance in making it a more pleasant experience. There may be a reason why that person is acting that way, such as a mother being jealous and upset with a girlfriend for “taking” her son away from him.

Above all, remember your manners. People will remember when you said “please”, “thank you”, and were sincerely polite. And hopefully you will be invited to hang out with them again!

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