The rules of dating are so silly. Just trying to keep them straight can be overwhelming. There are real rules, like don’t cheat, and there are guidelines for how one is supposed to behave when in a relationship. But no manual could prepare you for this. You’ve been invited for dinner at his parent’s place. What’s a girl to do? Meeting your new boyfriend’s parents can be a nerve-wracking experience. Heck, you are just getting comfortable with how well you know him and are getting along and then he springs this on you. That’s not necessarily a reason to freak out; well, it’s okay to freak out a little bit. They could very well be the reason you marry (or don’t marry) this man. But in all honesty, it’s probably not going to be like the film, Monster in Law, so you should be a bit relieved.
16 They will compare you to his ex
You’re way past creeping his exes’ social media pages and finally determining that you are prettier, smarter, AND overall better for him than she was. But that’s not going to stop his parents from making some secret comparisons. It’s in human nature to do side by side comparisons, ingrained when you are young and in school. Unless they absolutely despised her, chances are, there are some columns she’s going to win out in, and you have to be okay with that. Maybe they thought she was the one… now it’s your turn to show them that no, it’s you that's “the one.” Once your glowing personality shines through, they will likely think you are great – because you are! Don’t even worry about this one unless they start calling you by her name. At the end of the day, they want him to be happy so if you do that for him, these comparisons will dull in comparison to your shining personality.
15 It won’t be as scary as you think
You can get yourself as worked up as you want; or play out scenarios right up until the car ride there, but one thing is for sure: it won’t be as awful as you are expecting. You’ve probably seen at least a film or two where the “mother-in-law” is an absolute terror to the new girlfriend/wife. This isn’t actually how things are so don’t worry about it. There will be no freak out if you accidentally spill your wine on the table or don’t eat enough of his mother’s home made cooking. They will likely make jokes about how you’re too skinny and need to eat more – it’s a mom thing. They probably will be pleasant, friendly and welcoming, because they want to set a good first impression just as much as you do. They won’t tie you to a table and grill you, they won’t condemn you for one bad answer (an answer they don’t like) and they won’t pull out an antique pistol and end you if they don’t like you. It’s all going to be okay.
14 They will either love you or hate you instantly
First impressions are quite powerful. That being said and all secret comparisons aside, they will either love or hate you instantly. There is no in between. This is the woman their son is with and that’s an extreme for them. And sometimes there isn’t much you can do about their first impression. You know you tried your best to dress conservatively, but fun, and not to make any inappropriate jokes; how were you to know they have a deep–rooted problem with Audis and you shouldn’t have driven yours there. If they hate you, well, you may not get an invitation to Christmas dinner and if they love you, his mother will start picking out the church for your wedding. A lot of things can help contribute to their feelings about you: from wardrobe, to arriving on time and seeing the way their son acts like a love-struck moron around you.
13 You CAN change their mind about you
Even though they might decide that they hate you, it is possible that you can amend that situation– sometimes. It just takes time and a lot of effort. There will certainly be some mothers who think you are not even remotely close enough to being good enough for their son and no amount of feeding starving orphans or adopting puppies can change that. Sometimes, like in rom-coms, you end up marrying the guy and his mom will continue to hate you for all eternity. But if they dislike you for something else, like breaking a vase or showing up late, those things can be fixed with some buttering up. Lots of it. And babies. Most mothers will forgive you if you lie on your back and given them piles of grandchildren. And if all else fails, just be ridiculously nice to the woman who hates you and she will look like the mean one – not you.
12 They will stare at you a lot
Hope you don’t get shy when you receive a lot of attention, because that’s exactly what you are going to get. Whether you’re stunningly beautiful, a plain Jane or something in between, parents will size you up. His mother will stare so much and she will see everything. The scars, pimples or other imperfections plaguing your skin; the five extra pounds you are working out regularly to try to lose; and fake smile, because you really aren’t having a good day that day. Seeing all of these things isn’t a bad thing. You look vulnerable and you look real. Parents like real. They want to see what their son saw in you, they want to picture you in a wedding dress, and they want to fantasize about what your children are going to look like. Embrace the stares. Just close your eyes and pretend you are on America’s Next Top Model.
11 They will ask about your family
It may seem kind of strange why someone would ask you about your family the first time you meet them, but it’s actually pretty normal small talk. They will ask about your family and it will be for a few reasons: one, to carry on conversation; two, to learn about your background and upbringing; and three, to find out what your family financial situation is like (because they are already thinking about your wedding – IF they like you). They also are probably making comparisons between yours and their own crazy little famjam. Be honest with them but remember, you are not obligated to tell them family secrets. They don’t need to hear all about your family drama or how your great-great-great-great-great grandfather fought in the war – unless they ask. In which case, it’s up to you but better to plan in advanced what gory details about your flesh and blood you intend to share with you potential future in-laws.
10 They will ask you how you feel about children
Usually, after they’ve learned everything they can about your fam without sounding completely stalker-creepy-obsessive, they’ll get more personal with you. What do you want to do with your life? What do you do now? Do you like your job? Do you have any big dreams? How old are you? How many kids do you want? They are hoping you answer with “lots and lots” because grandparents always want more than one… they also want to know your general feelings about kids because how a woman behaves around children is a pretty solid indicator of what type of mother she will make, in their eyes. Your age is important as his mother remembers all too well the idea of your biological clock ticking. And though in 2016, most families are more accepting of their children’s preferences, even if that doesn’t include popping out as many kidlets as possible, they still are secretly hoping you change your mind and have at least one.
9 If they don’t like you, you’ll probably find out quickly
Remember how they will either love you or hate you? You might be wondering how you could possibly know which one it is, and the answer to that is, it’s pretty damn obvious. If they love you, they will be happy, smiling, enthusiastic and huggy with you when you leave that evening. And if they don’t, you’ll need a sweater for how cold (but still polite) they will be acting around you. You’re lucky in this situation, though, because you’ll know… in that case, you can make the call whether or not changing the opinion of a woman who could one day matter a tremendous amount is worth the stress in the current state of your relationship. They say that mothers-in-law are a big reason for some marriages ending in divorce. If it’s not worth it, better to cut your losses early and go out and meet someone who’s mother isn’t an issue, or who can appreciate your unique personality so much more than the grumpy woman in front of you.
8 They will know if you “tried” for them
Usually before meeting parents, you’ll be pretty curious to learn a bit of background data prior to the “big day.” And his parents know you will have your curiosities and questions for him. They will instantly know upon meeting you how much research you did. You studied their culture (because it’s different than yours), or you found out they were conservative and wore a turtleneck instead of a tank top… Did you even ask him anything about them? They can tell if you’ve prepped or if you’re flying by the seat of your pants. It’s like a secret radar they have as you walk in the front door. It goes all crazy and stuff if you don’t know a thing about them. Or if he picked you up at the local pub and begged you to come to the family event so people would stop asking him when he was finally going to go get a girlfriend.
7 Don’t be late! They don’t like it
Regardless of how old his parents are, they are still older and from a different generation than you. Call it culture shock or generation gap, but in their day, things like manners, showing up with flowers or being on time were expected of new partners in new relationships. If you show up late, they will take it as a sign of disrespect and it’ll be a lot harder for you to win them over. It will immediately make you look disorganized and unreliable. The last thing they want is their son to be involved with someone disorganized and unreliable. And on the off chance that you’re going to be late, ensure he calls first – even if he wouldn’t normally if it was just him visiting. Anything that can – and will – go wrong will be blamed entirely on you because their perfect angel son could do no wrong.
6 Tiny gestures do wonders for a first impression
How much do you swoon when your boyfriend surprises you with concert tickets? Chocolates? A teddy bear on Valentine’s Day? How about that date you went on with the magician where he pulled a bouquet of really nice flowers out of his sleeve, along with a fluffy, white bunny? That was pretty magical, right? Ok, you can stop rolling your eyes now. The answer is probably quite a bit and his parents are no different. Having the chance to finally meet the girl their son is seeing is an event in and of itself. No one is telling you to suck up but small gifts like a bottle of wine to go with dinner or homemade cookies really do wonders with maximizing your first impression on them. It makes you look fantastic and does a great job of making them feel appreciated by a stranger, who could one day be their daughter-in-law.
5 They don’t like to see your PDA
Have you ever heard the impression “do what you want behind closed doors”… well, maybe that’s not an expression per se, but his parents are definitely of the generation where public acts of love are frowned upon. It doesn’t matter to them how much you love their son and how you can’t keep your hands off of him… find a way to show it that isn't sucking face. It won’t help you get into their good graces. A little hand-holding is okay, or a quick gentlemanly hand kiss, but any actual facial contact is not gunna fly. It might be cool to have a cute, little peck or two in front of your friends, or be considered normal for you to sit on his lap while you have company at your place, but this is their house, their rules and they don’t want to watch you make trout-mouth with him. Save it for your wedding day – that one, they will tolerate.
4 You may get sucked into family matters
All families have drama. Maybe something happened at some cousin’s wedding with drunk Uncle Bill or your Aunt Delilah is getting married for the seventh time and y’all just want to sit around and talk about it. Well, your boyfriend probably doesn’t but his parents will probably want to get his opinion, especially if they don’t see him often. They may even ask you for yours, as a test, or because they genuinely want to know what you think. Though you may be pressured to provide an opinion, it’s best to refrain from giving it so nothing can be held against you later. Everyone’s got a weird cousin Phil, or a pregnant teenage distant cousin who probably should not be reproducing. As strange as their family stories or fights may sound, just remember, blood is thicker than water and they will always back each other before they back you. Just listen, or tune it out.
3 They will think about the fact that you’ve slept with their son, at least once
Hard as you might try, you will never forget the mortifying fact that your parents have had sex (only once obviously) and you were the outcome. Your younger brother was obviously adopted or dropped off by the stork. And let’s not forget that time you walked in on your parents showering together and you only saw shadows through the curtains… you get the picture? For his parents, this takes a whole new meaning. They don’t want to think of the fact that their baby is having sex with girls. They don’t want to think of their baby being all grown up and ready for such grown up things. They, especially his mother, want to be doing his laundry and giving him life advice. His father will probably high-five him if he thinks you’re a catch. That being said, they aren’t dumb either and will make assumptions based on your behavior, your body language and whether or not you live together. They can’t get rid of the visual either. Sorry.
2 They will ask you about the trip there
If his parents are some of those parents that live up north, in the middle of nowhere, across a bridge and through a swamp (or a small helicopter), you can be assured that the first thing they will say when you arrive after “hello” is “how was the trip here?” Even if they live on the other side of the city, there is plenty of adventure to be had on the journey. You have a few options in this case. You can either do your best to make sure something exciting, funny or awful happens on the way so you have something to say, or you can make it up and pre-rehearse something with him. Either way, figure out how you plan on answering that question. Awkward silence on the first question doesn’t do much for your personality in their eyes. And if the pause is too big, it’s going to look like you’re lying… or you’re boring… you decide which one is worse.
1 His mother wants you to volunteer to help her
They say you should never ever EVER try to take initiative and do things for her in the kitchen without asking her first. That is her home – her domain – and she will see it as threatening if you just swoop in and try to take over. That being said, she is happy to take your help, once you offer. In fact, she wants to basically force you to help her, without having to say a word. She wants to have some girl-talk with you. On top of that, she probably wants to retain a little bit of control since arguably you are more influential to her son than her now. Some of her other reasons for this are: to split you up and grill you both separately; to check out how domestic you are (because she’s thinking of marriage – duh); and, to see how well you do answering questions without him standing next to you. Deep breath – you got this.