Ever wonder what guys think, how to deal with them, or whether instead of listening to you, they just imagine you naked? Our Real Live College Guy Joe will answer all your questions about men and relationships with wit, clarity, grace and physical attractiveness (can you tell he wrote this intro himself?) all while imagining you fully clothed! Well, usually – he is a college guy.
So, my boyfriend and I have been dating for five months, and I really wanted him to introduce me to his parents. He finally gave in, and we are meeting them next week! Of course, now that I’ve gotten what I wanted, I am super nervous. What does ‘meeting the parents’ mean? How should I act? How does he want me to act? Will he care what they think of me? And, most importantly, what should I wear?!
–Don’t Want to Be a Disappointment at Dartmouth
So you’re safari-ing into the habitat of parents (homus parentus boyfriendus), eh? It can be a dangerous place. The parents can be a standoffish species, not accustomed to the presence of young humans ever since their offspring abandoned the nest. If startled, they can lash out with a wide array of defensive tactics, such as snide, offhand remarks about your clothing or extreme drunkenness. Approach with caution, and follow these safety tips for the parental wilderness:
You might spend the entire week before your trip worrying about what to wear so as not to spook the parents, specifically the female, or “mother,” parent. If I wear a skirt, will she think I’m a call girl? If I wear pants, will she think I’m a call girl who is bad at my job? (In my experience, most girls’ fears about visiting the parents are really just different iterations of the fear that the mother will think they are call girls. Will she think my name is too call girly? How quickly can I legally change my name? If I tell her I’m an English major, will she think I’ll become a call girl after graduation to pay my bills?) But you shouldn’t worry too much. Just wear what you normally wear, and you’ll be fine. Unless you are a call girl. In that case, maybe, just for a night, trade in the fishnets for some jeans with the a** part still sewed in.
When making initial contact with the parents, walk slowly. Don’t make any sudden movements. Maybe even crouch a little to appear non-threatening. For real, though, just be yourself, and be respectful. If you’re a cheek-kisser, cheek-kiss. If his old man looks especially frumpy, maybe just extend the hand for an informal shake. Compliment them on what a nice home they have, and don’t touch stuff that looks expensive. Then the parents will grant you free range in their burrow and will protect you as one of their own from intruding predators.
Your “guide” (boyfriend) for the trip
An important part of this excursion that I’ve glanced over so far is your boy-toy’s role in all of this. First off: why are you meeting his parents? If he invited you to his home for a meal, especially if it’s out of town, then he likes you very, very much and takes your relationship very seriously. Any concealed lumps in his clothing or luggage could very well be a wedding ring. If his parents are in town, and he invited you out to eat with them, then it’s less serious — nevertheless, he invited you to meet his parents, so it’s a pretty important step in your relationship. Second, what will the parents say to your boyfriend about you while you’re in the bathroom? They will do either one of two things: 1) They will say, “She seems really nice” (accompanied by a hug from the mom and/or a punch in the arm from the dad,) or 2) They will say, “She seems nice,” but scrunch up their faces as if they just caught a whiff of a decomposing cadaver. It’s obvious which response you’d rather have. Read ahead to find out how to obtain such a response. In the end, however, it doesn’t matter too much what the parents think. If the guy likes you, he’ll keep dating you. True, some parents forbid their offspring from dating certain people. But — aside from any outdated but ferociously maintained prejudices the parents might have about dating, your cultural background, etc. — you’d have to be pretty terrible for that to happen. And, plus, if it does happen, you can just keep communicating with each other through a chink in the wall that separates your houses, run off to find each other in the forest, accidentally kill yourselves because you think the other is dead, and then have a famous play written about your unbreakable passion.
How to act around the parents
Within the species homus parentus is a wide range of attitudes about “acceptable” boyfriend and girlfriend behavior. This variance is caused by differing levels of adaptation to the technology age, with all of its new-fangled hip-hopping music. But there are some definite guidelines you can follow to make sure you make a good impression, no matter the parent. DO NOT be touchy or flirty. Think: it must be so weird for a mom to see some girl all over her son. You can spare two hours. A kiss here or secret hand grab there is acceptable — if the parents see this, they’ll see that you really like their son. But if it’s over the top, they’ll think you’re in it just for what his momma gave him, ifyaknowwhatImean. Otherwise, your guy will just want you to be yourself. That’s why he likes you in the first place, and that’s what will get the people who made him to like you. So take a deep breath, print out one resume for each parent, and go get ‘em.