Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday: Meeting Your Boyfriend's Family

The worst experiences in life are as follows:
  1. Giving birth.
  2. Passing a kidney stone.
  3. Meeting your boyfriend's family.
Although I've only experienced the third one firsthand, it's almost as nerve-wracking as what I imagine pushing a baby and/or stone out of your body to be like.  But as with anything, once you do it at least once it makes you an expert, which is why I'm here to quell your fears.

The first thing you need to do is try to get out of it.  I've been on both sides of this terror and let me tell you, it's very likely that the members of your boyfriend's family may never like you.  Everything you do will be scrutinized, picked apart, and judged as wrong the minute you leave the room.  Let me say it plain and clear: the odds are always against you, so put off The Meeting for as long as possible.  The longer you wait, the less time in your life you have to be ruthlessly hated.  

So it's been 10 years and you still haven't met them.  Congratulations for waiting this long, and prepare to meet your doom.  Consider this the most important job interview you'll ever have.

We all know first impressions are key, so it's very important to look your best.  Brush your hair, maybe even consider flossing.  Wear something conservative but flattering, something between what you might call club attire and a frock.

Not this.

But also not this.
Secondly, bring a gift.  Frankincense, myrrh, Yankee candles.  Whatever it is, it's crucial that his mom likes the scent or isn't allergic to imported Belgian truffles.  Do your research.

Thirdly, act perfectly.  This means not talking too much or too little, being funny yet formal, polite but not fake.  While you'll inevitably do something wrong, there are a few strategies that will help your case.  Get his dad on your side.  Dads are easy-going (until their daughters start dating and the shotgun comes out, but you need not worry about that).  Brothers?  Piece of cake, just talk about video games or sports.  Moms and sisters are the ones you need to watch out for.  

There's little to no difference between a bear mom and her cub and a human mom and her son.  Do not get in between them, don't touch him in front of her, and do not try to assert yourself as an important figure in his life.  She is the only woman in his life.  

Know your place, ho!
The same mentality goes for sisters.  To her, you're not pretty, you try too hard, and your clothes are skanky.  Only after you make years of effort to befriend her consisting of Panera lunches, shopping trips, and acknowledgement that only she will ever be the family's queen bee will she consider you worthy.  What can I say, bitches be crazy.

When asking my own mother advice about this very topic, she told me 3 key things.  "Remember to smile, don't look mad like you normally do.  And don't say anything controversial.  Just be your sweet self."  Okay, maybe she didn't call me sweet but whatever, she has a point.
  1. Be pleasant.  Make yourself fun to be around.  Laugh, compliment their house, ask to help with dinner.  Make an effort to get to know them.  You're not there to spend time with your boyfriend.  Your role is much like a dog's role in a dog show.  Pull out all your stops, impress them.  Tip: I've found feigning a southern accent makes you seem cuter.
  2. Don't say anything controversial.  Act intelligent and contribute to conversation but avoid topics like politics, religion, and pulp vs. pulp-free orange juice.  If they like the Patriots, you love the Patriots (read up on your stats beforehand).  Should they directly ask your preference about something potentially divisive, evade the question by saying something vague or asking them what they think first.
  3. Be yourself.  Cheesy but true.  Think about the most extreme scenario: you marry this kid and have to spend the rest of your life living in a tangled web of lies you wove the first time you met his family. 
Are you scared?  Well, you should be.  Just trying to prepare you.  And remember, he might still love you even if they don't.  Happy Toots-day!

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