Meeting one another's parents is a big step for many couples, and it's a moment that plenty of people look forward to with eagerness. Most people do everything to make the best first impression. However, if your partner brings up these topics front of your parents, then it's possibly a deal-breaker for the relationship. Disrespecting your family is never a good look.
For the most part, those early meetings in particular are all about letting your partner and parents get to know one another better. A wise S.O. will treat the meeting as a way to find commonalities and establish a bond. When meeting a partner's parents, "Your goal is to get to know them better by staying curious and asking questions, rather than taking firm positions on things," as Jennifer Longmore, B.A.S.W., M.Ed., relationship counselor and columnist for Marriage.com, tells Romper.
That said, no family is perfect. If your family of origin is particularly dysfunctional, then this list might not necessarily apply in your case. But if you have a healthy relationship with your parents, then of course it's important to find a partner who also respects that bond. A significant other who constantly needles or belittles your lovely parents may need to hit the road sooner rather than later.
1. Positions On Politics & Other Loaded Topics
It's great if your S.O. is super passionate about a certain topic or cause, but it's safest to leave these conversations alone when it comes to parental meetings. "When relating to your partners' parents, keep it light and look for commonalities, like TV shows, books, [favorite] places to visit, before ever considering deeper topics that could bring up some social snafus," says Longmore. Obviously you should feel comfortable to speak your mind on certain beliefs, but there's a time and place for everything and dinner with your partner's parents, especially if you don't know them well, may not be the most opportune time to bring up your stance on gun control, for example.
2. Critiques About Home Decor
Even if your partner is a professional decorator, this isn't the time to criticize your parent's placement of the china cabinet. Launching into a critique about your parent's home decor could be a recipe for trouble, as Longmore explains. You have to keep in mind that not everyone has the same style preference when it comes to interiors. Again, it's better to refrain from comments that come across as judgmental, even if they're well-meaning.
3. Sex Life Details
Sure, your parents are super chill, but this can be such a risky topic. "I’d steer clear of anything related to sex when you are talking to someone’s family," as Charly Lester, dating industry expert and co-founder & CMO of Lumen, tells Romper. "No matter how old you are, no one’s parents want to hear about their sex life!" Plenty of parents would rather stay ignorant about this particular topic.
4. Critiques About You
Even if you and your partner have a jokey relationship and take digs at one another on the regular, don't forget that your audience is there and paying attention. Until you get to know one another better, it could be taken the wrong way. "One of my clients thought she was making a light-hearted comment about her boyfriend to his mom during her first meeting with the mother," explains Longmore. "She critiqued his work ethic and implied that he barely gets any task right or complete." The boyfriend broke up with her about two weeks later. Hey, mamma bears are protective of their cubs for life.
5. Anything Too Familiar
Maybe your partner and parents click instantly. That's great to have, but don't get too comfortable, too fast. "Even though your interaction is informal, leave a breath of respectful distance," advises relationship expert Susan Winter. "This small degree of formality shows respect." It's a thoughtful thing to do.
6. Critiques About Other Relatives
A partner should be very cautious about badmouthing anyone else in the family. Even if everyone else is bashing on one cousin, it's best to refrain from any sort of negative comments, as Longmore explains. Truth be told, we should all make a point to refrain from talking badly about other people in general, but things can really take a turn when it gets a bit personal. Holding your tongue is the best decision, especially if you're not familiar with the subject at all.
7. Educational Debates
Sometimes you have to acknowledge the generational differences in thinking. As Winter explains, her clients who tried to "'educate' their in-laws to modern thinking" did not have productive or pleasant results.
For the most part, a significant other who can treat your parents with kindness and a bit of respectful distance is absolutely golden.