No matter who you are or what your sexual preference may be, introducing a new relationship to your parents is a big deal and can be very scary for both you and your partner. Of course you want to share your love life with those closest to you…so whether your family is accepting of your lifestyle choices or they have their doubts or misconceptions, there are ways to ensure a smooth process for everyone. To avoid an uneasy situation, check out the following tips:
Tip #1: Make sure your partner is ready. If you feel that your relationship is in a healthy place where meeting the family is the next step, sit down and discuss the idea with your partner to ensure that you are both on the same page. Watch for warning signs such as hesitation or resistance, which could indicate that he may not be quite ready for such a big step. If he is good with the idea and the potential outcome of taking things to this level, then all is a go.
Tip #2: Give your family advanced notice. If you have already come out to your family you should be able to openly discuss the idea of introducing them to your boyfriend. Like the conversation with your partner, make sure you keep an eye out for red flags that may indicate uneasy feelings. Even if they aren’t completely comfortable, it is crucial to explain that your partner is a significant part of your life. Let your family know how much it would mean to you for them to get to know him.
If your family does not accept your sexual preference or is even unaware—brace yourself for the possibility of a negative reaction. If you are not out, it might not be a good idea to bring your new guy home. Consider how uncomfortable the two of you would be trying to hide your relationship. Also keep in mind that there is the chance of your family finding out while you are visiting. If they do, are you prepared for that?
Tip #3: Allow time for everyone to acclimate. If all works out for the big meet and greet, it may take time for everyone to get comfortable with one another. That is to be expected in any relationship, so just remember to be yourself and act naturally. A good way to minimize any uneasy feelings is to share family stories or pastimes. Also keep in mind that your boyfriend may be experiencing feelings of nervousness or isolation, so be sure to include him in conversation and to share stories about your relationship as well. Let him know that his comfort is important to you and hopefully before long, everyone will be cracking jokes together like old friends.
Tip #4: Don’t force it. If things aren’t going as you planned, try not to force it. The relationship you have with your family is something that should be worked out between you and them alone—do not involve your partner for it will only complicate things further. You may find that it’s best to bow out of the situation if it’s uncomfortable and try again at another time.
Tip #5: Thank your family. If introducing your new relationship to your loved ones couldn’t have gone better, be sure to thank your family for their acceptance and generosity. When you let them know that you recognize and appreciate any strides they’ve made in this highly emotional experience, it will not only strengthen the bond you share, but it will also help to integrate two of the most important parts of your life.