For many, the arrival of the holiday season brings joy. But for those introducing their partners to family for the first time, the season could drum up anxiety (albeit totally avoidable angst!) between you and your lady. We’ve been in the business of dating and relationship “firsts” for over a decade, so here’s your “to do” list before throwing your new “Miss” into the mix:
Prepare your parents. It’s important for your family to know a little about your girlfriend and why you like her. They should know a bit about the reasons you’re dating her. What qualities does she have that you really admire? How does she make you happy? (“She’s hot” or “she’s great in bed” are not answers to those questions!). Tell them why the two of you are a good fit (or why you’re inseparable/in love/exclusively dating). The deep-down connection you have with her likely won’t be the topic of conversation over a holiday meal, so prep your parents by offering this insight. Remember, they are likely happy when they know you are.
“Prep” means setting time aside before you and your girlfriend walk in the door to your parents’ house to have the “here’s why I like her” chat. Don’t do it when she gets there or five minutes beforehand. Have a conversation (or e-mail exchange for those who have tech savvy ‘rents) before the in-person intro takes place.
Being thrown into the family mix can be nerve racking for both you and your partner – and potentially for your parents as well. See if a parent, you, and your girlfriend can do a quick coffee before your annual 25-person Thanksgiving dinner. Everything will go more smoothly on the big day if you can ease into it.
Prepare your partner. Describe what the holidays are like with your family. Are they cheerful/depressing/gluttonous/drunk/uplifting/noisy/dramatic? If your religions are different, give her a “My Religion for Dummies” lesson before having her sit through a religious ceremony with the family.
If necessary, warn your girl about your “crazy cousin and let her know how to defuse an encounter. Also tell her who can be her “buddy” (your favorite relative?) if you get caught talking to the crazy cousin and she’s left to fend for herself.
Not all families are as open-minded and accepting as we would like, so make sure to give your girlfriend a heads up on any family member who isn’t comfortable with your sexuality. Also make sure she knows the sleeping situation – are you sharing a bed and/or room? Discuss with her how affectionate she can be in front of your family as well. If your family is meeting her for the first time, should you refrain from calling each other “babe” in front of them? Can you kiss or hug?
Are you the one meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time? Here are five easy things to remember.
1. Bring a gift for the host. NO EXCEPTIONS.
2. Being overly polite is better than being seen as lacking proper manners – this means “please/thank you/may I” all day long.
3. DON’T get drunk. Try to drink the least of anyone there, and don’t smoke if it’s a non-smoking family.
4.Put your phone away.
5. Know an escape route. For example, if an uncle offends you to the point that you’re on the verge of tears, how should you handle it? Ask your girlfriend what would be appropriate.
You don’t need to bullet-point and color-code your “meet the family” action plan. But no one ever said that being prepared was unattractive.
Meghann Novinskie and Kim Rosenberg are Dating Experts at Mixology—Matchmaking with a Twist (www.readytomix.com). Mixology is an offline personal matchmaking agency exclusively for the LGBT community, with offices in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, and clients around the country.
You may also like: Gay & Lesbian Holiday Etiquette.