Whether you just met your boyfriend's parents or you have sat at their dinner table for years, awkward silences are bound to pop up every now and then. While some of these are better left hanging, resolving on their own, others might be so uncomfortable you feel eager to fill them. Be observant as you visit with your boyfriend's parents; what you see or hear might stir up an interesting conversation.
Silence during Initial Meetings
Knowing how to fill a silence can be much more uncomfortable when you are still getting to know your boyfriend's parents. Erring on the side of caution can help you out--politics and religion are probably not the best subjects to broach if there's an awkward silence, for example. Being observant can also help you get the conversation going again. Does your boyfriend's mother fill her kitchen with rooster figurines? Does his father keep a collection of music posters in the garage? Take note and ask questions about their hobbies or collections during awkward silences. Not only will you break the silence, but your question also shows you are interested in getting to know his parents.
Silences during Later Meetings
After several months or a few years, you're likely to be better acquainted with your boyfriend's parents. While an awkward silence can be uncomfortable, it can also give you the opportunity to bring up a conversation out of the blue. Current events, a new movie, a new restaurant or asking about how someone in the family fared during surgery can be excellent ways to fill the silence. If your boyfriend's mother cooked dinner, you might consider asking her how she made it.
Cracking a joke may not lead to a stand-up comedy gig, but it might be enough to help you weather awkward breaks in conversation. Drop controversial jokes from your line-up and pay attention to the personality of the crowd, too; puns may be a big hit in one family, but lead to more silence in another, for example. If you can't think of anything in the moment, acknowledging the silence as you switch topics might work. Smile and say, "We really dropped that conversation just now. So, has anyone been to the new restaurant down the street yet?"
You've asked about his family, their interests, even cracked a few jokes, but the awkward silences just keep surfacing. As silly as it may sound, conversation starters like, "What superpower would you want?" or "How would you spend money if you won the lottery?" can trigger creativity and get the conversation flowing again. Jot down conversation ideas as they occur to you in a small notebook. Carry it with you during visits with your boyfriend's parents, and you will soon be ready for any lull in conversation.
Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.