It can be nervewracking to have your family meet your boyfriend, and disappointing if afterwards they hint (or state point blank) that they don’t like him. Your family likely has your best interests at heart, and their doubts come from concern over your well-being. Family members might be slow to warm up to your boyfriend if they think he isn’t as serious about you as you are about him, or if they’re worried about you getting hurt. Often, a family member’s dislike of a boyfriend isn’t founded on much except for a bad first impression. Although you can’t control how your boyfriend acts around your family or, ultimately, their feelings toward him, you can do some things to help their relationship.
1. Tell Your Family What to Expect
Are you and your boyfriend in love? Just started dating three weeks ago? Are you discussing long-term future plans and/or marriage, or are you simply having fun hanging out right now? Though you might think your family will pick up on the status of your relationship, they may be in the dark. Choosing to bring your boyfriend to family gatherings usually signals that the relationship is getting more serious. Family members may have certain assumptions about your boyfriend based on his presence at a family meal or holiday event, so let them know where your relationship stands ahead of time. They won’t feel like they have to scrutinize your boyfriend so closely, and you both might be saved from some awkward questioning.
2. Prep Your Boyfriend
Your boyfriend is likely to be nervous around your family at first, hoping that he wears and says and does the right things to get them to like him. He’ll appreciate it if you help him out by giving him some tips ahead of time. Twoofus.org suggests that you let him know the big do’s and don’t’s of your family. For example: Do expect Uncle Chuck to drink a little too much eggnog, and don’t feed the dog under the table because Mom hates that. Let him know what is appropriate to wear for the occasion, and be very specific if his version of dressing up includes ripped jeans. He’ll be prepared enough not to react with shock when your extended family says or does weird things, and he won’t commit any egregious faux pas. Letting him know what your family members love to talk about is also a plus, because he’ll have some topics of conversation ready if someone pulls you away and he ends up on his own with Aunt Betty.
3. Share the Good Times
Maybe your family has already met your boyfriend and it didn’t go well. Instead of getting defensive, consider what they actually know about your boyfriend and your relationship. He might be stiff and unromantic with you when he’s with them because he’s afraid of too much PDA, but does your family know that he leaves cute notes for you to wake up to when he goes to work in the morning? If you tend to talk to your parents or siblings about your boyfriend only after you’ve had a fight, or you don’t bring him up at all because it’s a tense topic of conversation, then they don’t know the whole story. Make a point of sharing positive things about him regularly. Mention that you had a wonderful date over the past weekend or show them a picture of you two doing something fun. Your family will probably like your boyfriend better if they understand how happy he makes you.
4. Ask Your Family to Include Him
If you and your boyfriend are serious, and especially if he’s likely to end up becoming part of your family, then they’re going to have to spend time with him. It’s better that your family members find some things to like about your boyfriend now than that they hold on to bad first impressions or grudges forever. Ask your family to include your boyfriend and keep an open mind about him for your sake. Getting more face time with your family gives your boyfriend opportunities to show off his good qualities, and it gives your family time to warm up to him.
5. Listen to Your Family
If you think or know that your family members don’t like your boyfriend, ask them why. They may have some very good reasons not to trust or like him. Your family knows you better than most people do, so take some time to consider their point of view. Your boyfriend may have some poor qualities that you’ve been unable or unwilling to notice. After they share their reasoning, try to assess the situation objectively. If your family members think you deserve nothing less than the best, you should treat yourself the same way.