No matter how good your relationship is, you can jeopardize it if you aren’t prepared for a conversation when you meet your girlfriend's parents. You should try to relax as much as you can so you come across as natural. However, keep in mind that you can’t change a first impression, so make it a good one.
Prepare to Be Flexible
Do your homework on her family, advises Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker in the PsychCentral article, “Meet the Parents: Navigating the Holiday Dinner without the Stress.” Think of the meeting as a sort of interview – and prepare for it in the same way. Ask your girlfriend her about her parents’ interests. Find out what is likely to offend them and what might impress them. Every family is different, so be sure to understand her families’ specific likes and dislikes. However, even the best laid plans might need adjusting. If, once you’re talking to her family, they seem interested in topics that you weren’t expecting, don’t try to force them back to your predetermined discussion plan. Remember that you want to impress them. Simply maintain your composure and go with the flow, discussing whatever seems to pique their interest.
If your girlfriend let you know that her parents are passionate about their work, then a sure-fire conversation starter is to ask them about it. Keep in mind that you want to ask open-ended questions that they can’t answer with just a simple “yes” or “no.” Make the questions count and avoid just a lot of small talk. For example, if your girlfriend’s mother is a lawyer, research her firm, so you can ask pertinent questions about her practice. People are usually happier having meaningful conversations, rather than superficial ones, according to an article published in the April 2010 issue of “Psychological Science.” If you make a strong effort to engage your girlfriend’s parents in a meaningful conversation about their work, they are likely to talk more and credit you with being a good conversationalist.
Talk about Her
Be sure to say good things about your girlfriend to her parents. Tell that funny story about the last trip you took or when you got lost and she helped you find your way. Also compliment her accomplishments. Her parents are probably proud of their daughter, so show them that you are, too. Saying good things about her will show them how deeply you care about your relationship.
Talk about Yourself
You can assume that your girlfriend’s parents want to get to know you. Help them do just that. Talk about your goals, accomplishments, personal interests and hobbies. Give them a good sense of your personality. However, avoid monopolizing the conversation or seeming self-absorbed. Keep reminding yourself that if their daughter loves you, they will likely want to love you, too. Stay upbeat and positive throughout your conversation.