Meet the parents

Finding someone you connect with is one thing but then... the dreaded day comes. You have to meet their parents. Lucky for you we’ve put together some tips for how to make a great first impression with your partner’s folks. Wondering what to wear to meet the parents? Read on.

A young woman is about to meet the parents of her partner. This is a wide-angle image.

Find out about your partner’s parents first

Before you meet the parents, make sure you do your homework. What do they do? Are they old-fashioned? What are their hobbies? Arming yourself with background info means you have good conversation starters if there’s an awkward lull when you come face-to-face with them. It also makes it easier to avoid any potential mishaps, like bringing a bottle of wine if they’re recovering alcoholics.

What to wear to meet the parents

What to wear to meet the parents is always a super-stressful topic. We can’t really give specific outfit ideas, since everyone has their own personal style. But here’s some general advice. 

Dressing to impress and putting an extra bit of effort in won’t do any harm here. Maybe try wearing a dress or trousers instead of your usual high-waisted jeans, or a button-down shirt instead of a t-shirt. Tidy up your hair if you haven’t had a trim for a while. That kind of thing. Finding the perfect outfit’ll help get you feeling confident about this meet.

But remember there is a difference between looking ‘nice’ and looking ‘sexy’. And you defo don’t wanna give off the latter vibe. To avoid this, lean more towards business-casual than a pub-crawl with your mates. 

What to talk about when you meet the parents

Firstly, let’s start with what you shouldn’t talk about when you finally meet the parents: 

  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Any stories involving you being drunk and/or high
  • Anything involving swear words

We’re not saying that these are off the table forever (especially if your most interesting stories involve a bit of inebriation). Just that it’ll take time to get to that level of familiarity. So try to steer clear of anything controversial when meeting the parents for the first time if you wanna make a great first impression.

Instead, use the knowledge you gleaned off your partner to start convos about stuff they’re interested in. Ask lots of questions. And don’t forget to smile and act interested in the answers — even if they’re droning on about the life cycle of bees. Remember, you need them on your side.

Don’t get drunk

Yes, it’s tempting. And they may well keep topping up your wine glass without you even noticing. But now is not the time to lose your inhibitions. Being drunk makes you vulnerable to oversharing, showing off, flirting, swearing, and all those other foot-in-mouth topics we’ve warned you about. All things that won’t get you invited round a second time.

What if your partner’s parents don’t like you?

There’s no point in worrying about this too much before you’ve even met them. You’ll just get in your head about the whole thing and start acting out of character. Essentially, it’s likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you have met them and you maybe didn’t put your best foot forward, don’t lose hope. Yes, it’s unbelievably crap if your partner’s parents don’t like you, or think you’re a bad influence — especially if you’ve tried really hard with them. But before you go complaining to your partner about what douches they are, remember: these are your partner’s parents. They’ll always ALWAYS defend them. And they’ll always ALWAYS get very VERY upset with you if you call them douches.

Instead of resorting to name calling, simply explain that you’re a bit worried their parents don’t like you. Who knows? They might even shed some light on things – perhaps their dad just hates anyone they date. 

Plus, you might prove them wrong with a few more meets. As long as you keep putting your best foot forward, things’ll get better. 

What if you don’t like their parents?

It can be very disconcerting – and kinda off-putting – if you meet your partner’s parents and think they’re, well, actually pretty awful. Whether they’re openly racist, sexist, or just a bit creepy, it’s likely to make you rethink your entire relationship.

Remember, your partner is not the same person as their parents. Think of your folks, and how you would feel if someone thought you were the same as them. And if something came up at the meeting that REALLY bothered you, just communicate. Ask your partner about it in a neutral way to see if they’re bothered too. Something like: “I didn’t know your parents voted for the BNP, have they always had those views?” could work. Or, “it’s interesting that your family is so traditional.”

Again, don’t tell your partner outright that you think they’re arseholes. That might not go down too well.

Next Steps

By Holly Bourne

Updated on 20-Jun-2022