17 Mistakes to Avoid when Meeting His Family
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.
1. DON’T bring your phone to the dinner table.
“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.
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2. 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.”
3. 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.
4. 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
5. 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.”
6. 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.
7. 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.
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8. 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.”
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. DON’T disrespect family rules.
“My brother brought his girlfriend home to stay with our family. My parents are pretty old-fashioned, so they decided my brother and I would share a bedroom while his girlfriend slept in his room. Each night, his girlfriend would sneak into bed with my brother or try to get him into her room. My parents were too polite to say anything, but I heard them talking about how rude it was that she didn’t respect their rules. Not only did it disappoint my parents, but it instantly made me question his girlfriend’s character.”
–Martin, St. Louis
12. DON’T talk behind their backs.
“My son brought his new girlfriend Anna* over. The family all started eating, visiting and exchanging gifts. Anna wasn’t eating, so I offered to fix her a plate. She refused, claiming she had already eaten. Later on, I overheard Anna on the phone talking about how weird our food was and how gross it looked. She was complaining that she was starving and there was nothing for her to eat. If you truly don’t like the food, at least have the decency to keep your thoughts to yourself so you don’t offend anyone.”
–Amy, Palm Harbor, Fla.
13. DON’T hog his time.
“After my grandson graduated from college, he began dating a new girlfriend and we rarely saw him. Finally, over New Year’s she agreed to come over for the family’s annual celebration. However, they ended up leaving after an hour. There was no reason that my grandson and his girlfriend couldn’t have stuck around longer; they had already spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with her family, which was obviously her decision. After that incident, I refused to give her the time of day.”
–Elizabeth, Avon, Conn.
14. DON’T be high-maintenance.
“One winter, my brother’s girlfriend stayed with our family for a long weekend. Every morning, she would lock herself in the bathroom and emerge two hours later. She also refused to go outside and sled ride with the family, saying it would ruin her hair. When we came back, she was painting her toenails! After she left, my only impression of her from the entire weekend was her combing her hair or looking at her nails.”
–Priya, Old Westbury, N.Y.
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15. DON’T show up wearing nothing.
“When my son brought his girlfriend over for our annual holiday party, she showed up wearing only black leather boots and a tiny dress that barely covered her behind. We had grandparents, great aunts and uncles and little kids around, so it wasn’t the right environment for that outfit. After she left, the whole family kept asking why my son’s girlfriend was ‘dressed like a hooker’-a question a mother never wants to be asked! Dress appropriately; it never hurts to be extra conservative when you’re meeting new people.”
–Morgan, Albany, N.Y.
16. DON’T be late.
“The first thing someone can do to make a bad impression is showing up late. If you are supposed to arrive at a certain time, make sure you are there 10 minutes early. My grandson’s girlfriend always shows up late to family meals, and everyone is cranky and annoyed with her by the time she finally arrives.”
–Jade, Scottsdale, Ariz.
17. DON’T avoid talking to his family just because he’s not there to get the conversation started.
“My brother had a girlfriend who was very nervous around our family. His girlfriend would converse with only my brother and seemed uncomfortable when he was out of the room. She was so overly attentive to hanging around him that none of the family had a chance to get to really know her.”
–Chloe, Las Vegas
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