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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

So, Your SO Asked You to Meet their Family—Now What?

Going home to meet your SO’s family can be a nerve-wracking experience no matter how long you’ve been together. It adds another layer of depth to your relationship since you’ll be learning how your partner interacts with their family in their own place of comfort. You must learn how to navigate new family values while simultaneously trying to make a great first impression.

Get acquainted.

Getting to know your SO’s family members is a crucial step in forming a strong, lasting relationship. The quickest way to begin forming that bond is by taking the time to learn everyone’s names. This task can be as easy as asking your SO about their immediate family, or stalking their relatives on Facebook. It may not seem like a big deal, but remembering names is a sign that you’re invested in your partner’s life and that you respect their loved ones. 

Interact with your SO’s family.

It is incredibly important to engage with your partner and their family equally. If you realize that you’ve been talking to your SO the entire night and can’t recall a single conversation with anyone else, something might be wrong. It’s totally understandable to remain close to your SO because that’s who you’re familiar with, but this behavior could be misinterpreted especially if the purpsose of your visit is to formally introduce yourself. 

Xandie Keunning, a 2019 graduate of Northeastern University, offers her own input on how to remain connected. “Be social at meals,” she says. “If your SO is busy, engage in conversation with the rest of the family. That’s one of the best ways to make a good impression and allow the family to get to know you as a person.” 

If you refuse to participate in new activities, won’t offer opinions in ongoing conversations, or decline to try new dishes, your SO’s family may find you inconsiderate. Remain neutral and curious as you engage; you will appear more respectful of your partner’s family and the lifestyle your partner leads. Additionally, you may find that you actually enjoy these new activities or even want to incorporate some of them into your own family’s traditions! 

Bring a dish or a gift with you.

Come bearing gifts because it never hurts to contribute. If your partner is inviting you to meet their family over a home cooked meal, then bringing a hot dish or a homemade apple pie for the family to enjoy is great option. Bringing something to your partner’s house shows that you’re grateful to have be an invited guest in their home. It’s also a great way to earn approval from your SO’s family members – who doesn’t like a free snack? If you’re short on time or not the greatest cook, you can always stop at the store to pick up a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine for the family as well. 

Xandie recommends bringing gifts for your partner’s family. “Check with your SO about what their parents would like,” she says. Gifts to your SO’s parents or family don’t have to be super elaborate. Even something small demonstrates that you appreciate their hospitality. 

Remain calm, cool, and collected.

Anticipating a new guest can be super hectic at any capacity. Although it may be hard to be believe, your SO’s family wants to make a great first impression just as much as you do. Remaining poised throughout the time spent with your SO’s family will ensure that things run smoothly. Feel yourself starting to sweat during a mini-interrogation from one of your SO’s parents? Feel free to excuse yourself to the restroom to regroup and freshen up. A splash of cold water or a breath of fresh air from the bathroom window can be the difference between you cracking under the pressure or coming out on top. It’s important to remember that you’re there for a reason and that this isn’t the defining moment for your relationship.

Enjoy yourself.

While it’s important to make a good impression on your SO’s family, you should still be making sure that you’re having a fun time along the way. As long as you are a friendly, considerate guest in your partner’s home, the likelihood of things going awry is minimal. Just relax a bit. This is the perfect opportunity to show your SO just how much they mean to you.

Spending time at your SO’s house can seem scary, but there’s nothing to be afraid of as long as you come prepared. There’s no sense in allowing your fears to get in the way of a great time. Most of the time, all that your SO’s family wants is to know that you care for your partner and are willing to put in the effort to maintain a long lasting relationship. So, kick back, relax and join in on the family fun — you might just find that spending time with your SO’s family is something you’ll want to do next week too.

Becca is a senior at Emory University studying English and Political Science. When she's not writing or stressing over homework, she can be found reading, rowing, or listening to Ed Sheeran on repeat.