For many men one of the things that will make him break out in a cold sweat is meeting his partner’s parents for the first time. No matter what you tell him about how he shouldn’t worry that’s exactly what he’s doing because he knows they’re going to be judging him and their opinions of him are going to go a long way in determining what happens with your relationship. You can reassure him as much as you want about how their opinion of him doesn’t matter to you, but the simple reality is even if you don’t have the best relationship with your parents he knows if they express some concerns it’ll place at least some doubt about the relationship in your mind.
So keep that in mind that the first time you have him meet your parents he’s going to be nervous and worried no matter how much of an act he puts on. What you can do is try to be as supportive as possible and if during that first meeting you see your parents verbally beleaguering him, step in and take control of the situation.
Secondly, try to tell your partner about what to expect when he meets your parents. If there are certain subjects he should stay away from make sure to tell him beforehand. If one parent is more likely than the other to be more critical or suspicious of him he needs to know what to expect beforehand. If your parents are the overprotective type you have to tell him what the appropriate social behaviour is when the two of you are together with them. Tell him some stories about what your parents are like, how they met, and what they do, that way he’ll have a better idea of what they’re like prior to meeting them. Give your partner an idea of your parents’ interests and hobbies beforehand. This will help him to know where to steer the conversation.
If at all possible try to have where he meets your parents be a neutral place like a public restaurant. This will help alleviate tension and by being in a public place force all parties to act with a greater level of decorum than they might otherwise demonstrate elsewhere. However, if you do meet at a restaurant let your partner know if he’s going to be expected to pick up the cheque for the meal. That way he can make sure to put aside enough money to pay for the bill.
Alternatively if your parents are to meet him at their home he needs some idea of what he’ll be walking into. He’ll need to know who else may be there such as other siblings, family members, or friends and what to expect from them. This will help him to mentally prepare how he acts and what he says when he is in that environment and help to ensure he doesn’t do something that embarrasses you. He’ll need to know what sort of attire he should wear and how formal or informal your parents are. Also, give him an idea for a gift he can bring such as flowers or a bottle of wine to help him make a better impression on your parents.
He will need to know what your relationship with your parents is like too. If you’re on bad terms with your parents he’ll need to know why so he’ll have a better idea of how he should respond when he’s meeting them. If your parents are divorced he doesn’t need to know the reason why, but it would help him to steer clear of certain subjects that might be a bit sensitive.
The level of affection and appropriate level of demonstrating it is something he’ll need to know prior to meeting your parents. Everyone’s family is a little different in this regard, but your partner should have a good idea if your parents would be offended if he held your hand while you’re together or put his arm around you. He wants to make a good impression so this is one area where sometimes things can go a little awry.
Lastly, your partner knows that his meeting your parents is a huge step in your relationship. So be sensitive to that fact and be forgiving as for many men this is a very stressful event and one during which their nerves can get the best of them.