Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Wellness > Sex + Relationships

What To Do If You Meet Your SO’s Family And It Doesn’t Go Well

Well, you met your SO’s parent(s) and it didn’t go as your planned. Maybe it was something you said, maybe it was them, but it doesn’t matter – the point is, you got off on the wrong foot, and now you have to find a way to make it right. It’s never easy, especially if you dislike them or they dislike you, but it’s always important to make an effort to get along for your partner’s sake. Remember, your SO may not always agree with their parents choices, but they likely still value them and their opinions. Here’s how to make a great second impression and hopefully win over your SO’s parents in the end. 

Do apologize if you did something wrong.

Even if it’s something as small as mispronouncing a name, it’s important to apologize and show your SO’s family that the remark was totally unintentional. Acknowledging your gaffe will show them that you’re mature and not too proud to admit your mistakes. If you offer a sincere apology, it’s unlikely that they’ll continue to hold the accidental slight against you, whatever it was. If it was a more serious offense, consider writing them an apology card or offering them some sort of gift, like flowers, along with an apology. A little effort can go a long way when it comes to making amends with your SO’s family.

Don’t apologize for something you’re not at fault for.

If the reason your SO’s parents don’t like you is for something out of your control, such as your gender or race, don’t feel pressured to apologize for it. These traits are part of what make up your identity, and they should obviously be celebrated, not looked down upon. You have every right to be frustrated if they make inappropriate comments about your lifestyle, such as demeaning takes about your religion or sexuality. If this happens, you can address it directly with your partner (if you feel comfortable confronting them), and let them know that those behaviors are inappropriate if you’re going to continue the relationship. It’s important to support your SO and their family, but you have to put your own self first.

If the reason you started off on the wrong foot was because a member of your SO’s family said or did something that made you uncomfortable, know that you don’t have to put up with it for the sake of making a good impression. You have the right to feel safe in your relationship, and your SO, and by extension their family, needs to respect you and your feelings.

Do ask your SO for advice.

Your partner knows their family better than almost anyone, so don’t be afraid to ask them for advice on how to patch up the relationship. They will be able to provide you with some ideas on the best way to apologize, and can offer encouragement throughout the process. 

Don’t bad-mouth your SO’s family.

It doesn’t matter how much you dislike them – they are your SO’s parents, and you shouldn’t ever speak about them in a disrespectful way to your partner. If you are frustrated, find a way to express it that is civil and complaisant – controversial statements or accusations are always a sure-fire way to start a fight between couples. If you really need to vent, talk to a trusted friend who will listen and let you work through your feelings about the situation before speaking to your SO. For some, families are a package deal, so even if you don’t get along with your SO’s parents as well as you hoped you would, you still need to show your SO that you can be a mature adult when interacting with their parents.

Related: When Should You Introduce Your SO To Your Parents?

Do make an effort to connect with them.

When you’re with your SO and their family, all of your energy should be focused on them. Put your phone on silent and away in a purse if you need to, and make sure that you have cleared your mind of any distracting thoughts. It may take a while to hit on a topic that you all enjoy, but don’t let that deter you. If you are truly struggling, just ask them questions about their work and hobbies, and make your best effort to take an interest in anything they share. Letting your SO’s parents know that you are taking your relationship with them seriously may improve their opinions of you drastically.

Don’t try to force them to like you.

You and your SO’s parents may just need some time to warm up to each other , and that’s OK! When getting to know them, let things occur as naturally as possible. If you allow yourself to relax and enjoy the quality time with your SO and their family, chances are everyone around you will begin to do the same. Don’t try to force yourself to be someone you aren’t to make them like you more. They’ll likely see through the act, and they won’t be impressed. Being yourself is one of the best things you can do in this situation.

Meeting your SO’s family is a nerve-wracking experience, so try to focus on being your cool, confident self, rather than who you think you need to be. That doesn’t mean that you should give up on ever having a good relationship with them just because you didn’t make a great first impression. It’s more than likely that they’ll be willing to give you a second chance, especially if you show them that you’re truly committed to furthering your relationship with them. You might not see eye-to-eye on everything, and there may be some differences that are hard to push past. Just remember that you’ll always have at least one thing in common–– you all love your SO!

Audrey is a senior studying agricultural sciences at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. After graduating, she plans to get a teaching credential and master's in Agricultural Education, and pursue a career as an agricultural science teacher and FFA advisor. Outside of school, she works as a teaching assistant at a local high school. In her free time, she can be found square dancing, rocking out to Taylor Swift, or whipping up tasty treats and (attempting) to take a decent photo of them for Instagram. Facebook: Audrey Lent Twitter: @TheAudreyLent Instagram: @Audrey_Lent