One of the most nerve-wracking relationship milestones—meeting your partner’s family for the first time—is mostly stressful due to fear of the unknown. What will they be like? What will they think of you? And what will you all talk about? The first two are easy—they’ll probably be like your partner, since he or she comes from them, and they’ll probably love you, since he or she loves you. As for the third, well, rest assured, they usually stick to mostly the same questions. After all, they only need to know a few things to know that you’ll take good care of their beloved family member.
So, take a deep breath, let go of the nerves, and read over these questions to prepare for meeting your partner’s family. You got this!
How did you two meet?
Maybe some of them will know the answer, but nevertheless, they’ll still want to know the story from you. This is your chance to have the floor and be a storyteller, and trust me, everyone will be rapt with attention, so don’t hold back! Unlike your jaded friends who are probably sick of hearing about your meet-cute at this point, your partner’s family will love hearing about how the two of you found love in a hopeless place (planet Earth). So, come ready to tell your how-we-met story (maybe a couple of times), edit out the awkward parts, and enjoy your attentive audience.
What do you do?
Don’t freak out at this question. At first blush, it may seem like they’re asking to figure out if you’re good enough for your partner, but they’re really asking because they want to learn more about you, your passions, and how you spend your days. Sadly but truly, in our society, a huge part of our identities comes from our careers, so it’s only natural this question would come up from people who may someday become your extended family. So, yeah, be proud and don’t hold back. This is a time when you can’t talk about yourself too much, and no matter what you do, your audience will be fascinated.
What do you love about [name]?
If there’s one thing a family could do forever, it’s gushing about their loved ones. So, when a newbie (you) comes into the family dating one of their own, they’re going to ask you to spill about all the reasons you love your partner. Then they’ll pile on their own reasons. Be prepared to share why your partner is so special to you and reasons why you guys are great together when meeting your partner’s family. They will want to know you’re the real deal and in it for the long haul, rather than just a fling, so the more specific and honest you can be, the better—now is not the time to play it safe with generic responses. This isn’t necessarily a test, but your partner’s fam will be looking to see how well you know him or her, and if you appreciate all of his or her unique qualities as much as they do.
What’s your family like?
Just as you’re probably feeling very exposed and under a microscope meeting your partner’s family, chances are, they’re feeling that same heat meeting you. Even if you’re not being judgmental at all, they may feel like you’re there comparing notes between your partner’s family and your own. Families come with a lot of baggage, and everyone’s fully aware that theirs aren’t perfect. So by asking you about yours, they may simply be trying to deflect some of that insecurity they’re feeling—while also wanting to learn more about you and where you come from. Do your best to be truthful and lighthearted, and try not to make comparative statements between your two families. The ultimate goal is that your families become friends, and this very first conversation is what sows the seeds for that!
What are your plans for the future?
Your partner’s family probably won’t waste too much time getting down to the nitty gritty: Are you around for the long haul? Are you two going to get married? Where will you live? What about kids—will you have them? When? Intense questions about your future will be flying fast, so be ready to answer them, or deflect if you want. You definitely don’t have to answer these, because it’s no one’s business but yours and your partner’s! But you also don’t want to be blindsided by these big ones, so you and your partner should powwow beforehand to get your answers (or non-answers) straight. That way you don’t have to panic and promise ten grandchildren on the fly.