Make a good first impression with your partner's family this Thanksgiving

Amy Chan

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Thanksgiving dinnerDan DeAlmeida

It's the most wonderful time of the year...except if you have anxiety about meeting your partner's family for the first time.

Meeting your S.O.'s family is a big deal. For many, it's taking that next step in the relationship. This is where the anxiety kicks in. You want to make a good impression, but you also don't know what to expect. Here are some tips that might help you make a good first impression on your partner's family.

Get on the same page with your partner before going

Set yourself up for success and have a conversation with your partner so you can know what to expect. Find out what hot topics should be avoided, as well as the topics they are passionate about and would make for good conversation.

You can discuss with your partner what sort of situations would cause you to be uncomfortable and agree on a signal/cue to communicate with each other in the event the situation arises. This might even be a signal to cue when you’re ready to call it a night.

Bring a gift

It's polite and respectful to bring a gift for the host. If you have food allergies or dietary restrictions, let them know in advance of the dinner. If you’re feeling anxious about not having your restrictions or allergies abided by, you could always bring a dish to contribute. That way, you have a backup in case you need it.

Avoid polarizing topics

If you’re meeting your partner’s family for the first time, I’d avoid polarizing topics. If politics or other controversial topics do arise, remember to practice curiosity. Even if you don’t agree with their point of view, shaming or judging them is ineffective.

In the event they tease or criticize your partner in a rude way, remember to always be your partner’s cheerleader. If they ask you a question you find inappropriate, do not answer. Instead, turn it around by asking them a question that shifts the focus from you to them. For example, if they ask you when you plan on having children (and you don't feel it's any of their business), you can reply by asking, "Do you have a ticking clock?" or "What type of grandparent do you want to be?" You can ask anything - the point is to take the attention off of you and put it on them.

While it might feel nerve-wracking to meet your parent's family, try to stay present. Creating hypothetical situations in your head will only add to your anxiety. It's when you're worried about what people will think that you get self-conscious.

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Amy Chan is the Founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a retreat that takes a scientific and spiritual approach to heal the heart. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Heart Hackers Club - an online magazine that focuses on the psychology behind love, lust, and desire. The Observer calls her "A relationship expert whose work is like that of a scientific Carrie Bradshaw" and her company has been featured across national media including Good Morning America, Vogue, Glamour, Nightline, and the front page of The New York Times. Her book, Breakup Bootcamp - The Science of Rewiring Your Heart, was recently published by Harper Collins.

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