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These 8 Tips Will Help You a Lot When Meeting Your Partner’s Parents for the First Time

These 8 Tips Will Help You a Lot When Meeting Your Partner’s Parents for the First Time

Meeting the parents is an important milestone in any intimate relationship for all involved.  As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and first impressions matter.

Not convinced? First impressions matter so much that scientists study them. As shared by Forbes, Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov and student researcher Janine Willis asked a wide cross-section of subjects to look at a microsecond of a video of a political candidate. With only that microsecond to go on, research subjects obtained a 70% accuracy rating in predicting who would win the election. What can we all take away from this study? People can make accurate snap judgments in a tenth of a second.

Are you worried about how to navigate those potentially rocky waters of meeting your partner’s parents for the first time? Keep these 8 tips in mind and your relationship will be off to a smooth start.

1. Remember that it’s about all of you.

Most men and women worry about the parent’s impression, the partner’s impression, the cat’s impression, and everything under the sun when they meet the parents for the first time. Remember that this occasion is also about you. This meeting is a valuable opportunity to learn more about your partner. Pay attention to their parent’s mannerisms, home, and how they treat each other. No matter what the current state of your partner’s relationship with them is, the parent’s influence was a powerful one in shaping future expectations of intimate relationships.

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What can you learn about your partner from this new perspective into their family life?  Do you like what you see?  What troubles you?  Did you enjoy their time? How you do you feel at the end of the evening? Be honest with yourself – like anyone you know, there will be things you consider positive and those that deter you. The more clarity with which you view them, the better you can evaluate your bond with your partner and stay on the same page as you move toward the future.

2. Maintain perspective.

How big a deal is “meeting the parents?” It depends. If families are far-flung and meeting them requires travel, a holiday, or another momentous occasion, then yes, it’s definitely a big deal. If everyone lives in the same neighborhood and your partner first introduces you when you run into each other in the supermarket, then things are more casual. Ask your partner how important this occasion is to them, and be clear about where this meeting falls on the “serious, committed relationship” scale to you.

Some people highly value their parents’ opinions, or have unique care taking or other logistical arrangements with their parents, and prefer partners to meet them early on; some don’t give two shakes what their parents think and will see them in the pew when you two are at the altar. Bottom line – don’t stress, and don’t assume that meeting the parents necessarily means more than it does.

3. Realize how much you don’t know.

Whether you meet the parents in their home or in a public space, you are guaranteed to learn something about your partner during the meeting. Remember that these folks have decades of history together, complete with insides jokes, embarrassing stories, and detailed knowledge of each other. Work hard not to react to anything you hear – there is likely context that your partner will explain to you later, and there’s a good chance that jokes and stories that sound like they happened yesterday actually took place years ago.

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If you are past the age of 18, there is also an extremely good chance that you are not the first one your partner has ever brought home (really, would you want to be?), and that “meeting the parents” likely hasn’t gone swimmingly well in the past every time. The first meeting is all about composure – maintain yours.

4. Be there for your partner.

Most folks resort to humor to cut nervous tension, and families pretty much exist to share embarrassing stories. Some families also include nosy or maliciously minded individuals who will pry and push for information. Remember that this first meeting is just that – a first meeting. You wouldn’t have teased your partner incessantly on your first date, embarrassed them, or revealed exceedingly personal information, would you? Of course not. So don’t do it now.

Sure, down the road you can tease your partner with their family, but save that for later. Giggling is alright; ganging up on your partner in a quest to be accepted by the parents is not. Respect your partner’s privacy and the sanctity of your relationship at all times, and deflect all attempts to learn private information about your relationship with your partner.

5. Cut the parents some slack.

Think you’re nervous, excited, stressed, eager, or every other emotion under the sun? So are they. You’ll probably say something you wish you could take back, blurt out a joke that isn’t that funny, drop your napkin, or some other detail you agonize over on the car ride home. So will they.

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Take a deep breath, relax, and don’t judge any more than you wish to be judged. Remember, these people are important to your partner. It may have taken a few meetings to realize that you partner is amazing, your best friend is great to hang out with, that dog you eventually adopted is the right pet for you – give the parents some time, too.

6. Have a gift in hand and kind words on your lips.

No matter what you’re doing, where, when, what time of day, in what season – never arrive empty handed. But what gift to bring? Go for something the mother will like, and present the gift directly to her. Not only do classic rules of etiquette dictate presenting the hostess with a gift, but there are valuable “family goodwill” points to be gained by courting the mother’s favor. Not sure about her tastes, food allergies, or other considerations? Pick up a bouquet of flowers. On a super tight budget? Bake something – whether they like it or not, the effort will be noticed and appreciated.

Be appropriately generous with compliments throughout the evening, whether on a style of dress or the parents’ home, and send a handwritten “thank you” after the event.

7. Reciprocate.

Did the parents pick up the tab for the evening, or welcome you to their home? Reciprocate by hosting them the next time, or treating them to a meal or experience. Establishing you and your partner as mature adults who care about the parents will go a long way in the good will department and lay the foundation for the mutual respect that is a part of every ideal relationship. Added bonus: you’ll likely be able to relax and enjoy the second meeting a little more, especially on your home turf or a bit more on your terms.

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8. Relax, and enjoy.

The point of meeting the parents is that because you care about your partner, you could see them in your life for a while to come…. maybe even forever. That time is a lot happier, more peaceful, productive, and supportive if you all get along. They don’t have to be your favorite people, but you all do have something in common – love for your partner, who happens to be their child. So take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy your time with new folks. They did something right if your partner turned out the way they did, so no matter how this meeting goes, it should be an occasion to celebrate.

Mastered the parent thing? Check out these other 10 Keys To A Successful Romantic Relationship.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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