17 Mistakes to Avoid When Meeting His Family
DON’T bring your phone to the dinner table.
Remember when Ben Stiller met his girlfriend's family for the first time in Meet the Parents? Although the chances of something that disastrous happening in real life are slim, first encounters with your guy's family can still be horribly scary. Before you shake hands, commit these DON'Ts to memory -- they're straight from family members who've been there.
“When my son brought his new girlfriend over for dinner the first time, she was texting on her cell phone the entire meal. She was trying to hide it under the table and pretend she was listening to our conversation, but it was obvious she had more ‘important’ people to converse with.”
—Sue, Quincy, Mass.
DON’T get all touchy-feely.
“I hate it when there’s too much PDA. My son had a girlfriend who was really affectionate in front of my husband, my other children and myself. The first time we met his girlfriend, she kept coming up behind him and grabbing him or kissing his cheeks, which made me really uncomfortable. I understand how it is to be young and in love, but seriously, there is an appropriate time and place and…in front of your boyfriend’s parents is not one of them.”
DON’T be a know-it-all.
“Since my grandson is now a busy, working grown man, the occasions when we get to sit down and visit are rare. Last Thanksgiving, I sat next to him at dinner to catch up, but his new girlfriend started answering questions for him and controlling the conversation. When I tried to tell her a funny story about him as a little boy, she interrupted. It annoyed me that she wasn’t interested in anything the family had to say and tried to act like she knew our grandson much better than we did.”
—Jerry, Clearwater, Fla.
DON’T forget your manners.
“My brother brought his new girlfriend over for the holidays. After a family meal, we all got up and started clearing the table and washing the dishes…well, everyone got up to help except her. She stayed seated at the table, playing a game on her cell phone. Later on, after we had exchanged gifts, she threw her used wrapping paper to the floor and walked out of the room, leaving the mess for someone else to clean up. She was rude and very disrespectful.”
—Alyx, San Francisco
DON’T overstay your welcome.
“When my son brought his girlfriend over for the first time, she seemed like a really nice girl…until she stayed for the Sunday football festivities. During the game, she made it obvious she didn’t like football. She pouted on the couch and kept angrily whispering. At half time, she got up and walked to the door, demanding my son leave to take her home. Football isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but it’s important to be respectful and open-minded when you meet new people and experience their traditions.”
DON’T bring your problems with you.
“During the holidays one year, my son brought his then-girlfriend over to stay for a long weekend. As the visit progressed, it was obvious that she was angry and irritated with my son. She kept sulking in the corner and texting on her phone, refusing to participate in conversation. She even went as far as outwardly ignoring my son in front of everyone during dinner! My son tried to ask her a simple question, and she rolled her eyes and looked at her plate. It was so awkward and uncomfortable that no one really knew what to say or do next.”
—Sharyn, Holmdel, N.J.
DON’T drink too much (or maybe at all).
“Drinking and meeting the family are never good ideas. My grandson brought his new girlfriend over for New Year’s Eve one year, and she showed up very intoxicated. The poor girl kept obnoxiously dancing, speaking way too loudly and slurring her words. After she finally stumbled out the door to be taken home, the whole family talked about how embarrassing and rude she was to make a first impression drunk.”
—Joey, Washington, Penn.
DON’T broach touchy subjects.
“When my son brought his girlfriend over, she announced she was a political-science major and immediately started interrogating my wife and me about our political beliefs and urging us to vote for the candidate she preferred. I was shocked by her shameless approach to conversation after just meeting us and couldn’t get over her blatant disrespect. Whenever people talk about controversial topics, it always starts things off on the wrong foot.”
DON’T be fake-nice.
“I can’t stand when my son brings over new girlfriends to meet the family and the girl is completely fake. Offer to help with dinner once, not five times. I understand it’s intimidating meeting a family, but it’s important that the girl calms down and acts like herself. It impresses me most when a girl can sit down with the family and hold a conversation with everyone, instead of sticking to herself or worrying about being polite.”
—John, Quincy, Mass.
DON’T lie. Period.
“When my nephew first introduced me to his girlfriend, I was talking with the couple about a ski trip I was planning and invited them along. His girlfriend told me she loved skiing and had taken lessons for years. A few days later, I found out this was not true; his girlfriend had never even skied in her life! I couldn’t have cared less if she knew how to ski or even liked the sport, but dishonesty is always a red flag.”
—Jeanie, Steamboat Springs, Colo.