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How to Act Around Your Girlfriend's Parents

Three Parts:Making a Good ImpressionTreating Your Girlfriend WellMaking Good Conversation

It can be hard to know how to act around your girlfriend's parents, especially if you're meeting them for the first or second time. The important thing is to be respectful and engaged and to make it clear how much you like their daughter. In the end, that will be the most important thing to them — not how you look or how much money you make. However, looking sharp and being gracious never hurt anybody. Just remember to keep the PDA to a minimum and you'll be on your way to having your girlfriend's parents welcome you into the family.

Part 1
Making a Good Impression

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    Do your homework. Before you meet your girlfriend's parents, you should get to know a little bit about them. And if you've already met, then it couldn't hurt to learn a bit more about them before you meet up the next time. Ask your girlfriend a few basic things about them, such as what they do for a living, where they're from, what their hobbies are, or anything else that can help you make a connection. Even something like a shared favorite sports team, or the fact that you and your girlfriend's mother are in the same line of work can help you make conversation and build a connection.
    • If you learn that you have something in common with her parents, don't bring it up the second you meet them. Wait for a quiet moment in the conversation to say something like, "So, Mr. Smith, I hear you're also a huge Cubs fan."
    • Be frank with your girlfriend instead of trying to elicit the information from her. Tell her that you want to know a few things about her parents to find common ground.
    • You can even ask her what her parents are like, if you haven't met them before. If you know that her father is sarcastic or that her mother is really talkative in advance, then you can be even more prepared to hang out with them.
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    Shake hands like a man. This is no time to be a limp fish or a wimp! During introduction, shake the father's hand with a nice, firm grip while maintaining eye contact, smile, and make them feel as if you are honored to be there. Remember that these are the people responsible for giving you the girl you love — they deserve your respect and admiration.
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    Dress well. Make sure you wear something presentable for the introduction. If you wear something too casual, they will think you (A) didn't care enough to dress up (not a great first impression) or (B) are stupid and don't get why you should bother (also awful first impression). You should wear something nice and appropriate to the occasion. If you're just coming over their house for a barbecue, then nice jeans and a polo will be fine, but if you're going out to dinner, then you may need slacks and a button-down shirt.
    • Make sure to groom yourself well too. Take a shower, get a nice close shave, and run a comb through your hair.
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    Bring them an appropriate gift. If you are going to their house for the first time, then you should come with flowers or another gift to show that you're trying. You can also bring a nice bottle of wine, if you know that her parents are drinkers. Ask your girlfriend what they will like. And even if you have met before and they are entertaining you, it's not polite to come to their home empty-handed. Bringing a gift, even if it is simple, shows that you are thoughtful.
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    Maintain positive body language. Another thing you should do is to make sure that your body language makes you seem approachable and engaged. Stand or sit tall, make eye contact, avoid hunching over, and use your arms to gesture or keep them at your sides instead of crossing them. You should also avoid fidgeting or that will make you look bored or nervous. If you're at dinner, avoid the temptation to push your food around your plate. Know that your actions say just as much as your words, and if you're shuffling your feet while trying to look interested in her mother talking about her PTA meetings, then she'll know you're really bored.
    • Maintain an open stance, turning your body toward her parents, instead of away from them. This shows that you are eager to talk to them.
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    Offer to help out or clean up. If you've met her parents at their home, then you should offer to help however you can. Maybe you can help Mr. Intimidating Dad man the grill. Maybe you can help her mother clean up in the kitchen after a nice long meal. Maybe you can find another way to help out around the house to show that you care and want to be useful. It's likely that her parents will say that they don't need any help, but you'll look like a gentleman just for asking.
    • Try to read their tones if they decline any help. You'll see whether they really mean it, or if they want you to help out.

Part 2
Treating Your Girlfriend Well

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    Treat their daughter with respect. This is the single most important thing you can do to win them over. All parents, even those that act hostile to boyfriends, want their daughter to find a good mate who will respect her and treat her right. Show them you are that person! Encourage their daughter when she speaks, talk about how accomplished she is or how many great qualities she has, and don't demean her or talk down to her. Be a gentleman and treat her like a lady.
    • Though you may tease each other in private, try to keep this to a minimum in front of her parents, at first, until they truly understand your dynamic. Otherwise, they may think that you don't respect her.
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    Keep the PDA to a minimum. There are other ways to show your girlfriend's parents how much you like her without trying to make out with her or grope her in front of them. If you really want to show that you like her, then you should be respectful towards her, maybe holding her hand or showing a bit of affection, but you should definitely not overdo it. Fathers don't generally like to see their daughters being touched by other men, so keep that in mind the next time you find yourself with your special lady's parents.
    • Though you don't want to be cold and distant toward her, not showing too much PDA is a sign of respect toward her parents.
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    Make it clear how much you like their daughter. At the end of the day, the most important thing parents care about is how much you like their daughter. You could be a billionaire or Ryan Gosling, and they wouldn't care at all if you seemed distant or condescending to their daughter. Though you don't have to praise her to the high heavens or force something that isn't there, you should make it clear that their daughter is really special to you by finding ways to subtly compliment her and show her affection, and by talking about her accomplishments or the things you like to do together. Make them see that you're serious about their daughter and that you realize how special she is.
    • Even the fact that you're going out of your way to be nice to her parents will show them how much she means to you. If you act like you don't really care what they think of you, then they'll think you don't really care about their daughter.
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    Don't come off as a slacker. Another thing parents don't want to see is that their daughter is dating a guy who lacks ambition or isn't going to amount to much. You don't have to be Mr. MBA, but you shouldn't talk about how much you hate school or work or about how you think the system is pointless. Sure, you can have these thoughts, but keep them to yourself around your girlfriend's parents — at least, until you're sure they really, really like you. You want them to think that you will amount to something and that you and their daughter will make a great team.
    • Though it's old-fashioned to say that your girlfriend's parents will want you to be a good provider for her, it's fair to say that they want to see a guy who can at least take care of himself. If you talk about mooching off your parents, getting bad grades, or how much you like to booze it up with your bros, they will not be won over.
    • Hey, if school or work isn't really your thing, talk about something you really care about, like playing the guitar or collecting stamps. Just make it seem like you care about something.

Part 3
Making Good Conversation

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    Be engaged. The important thing is that you act like you care about the conversations you're having with your girlfriend's parents, even if you're talking about doing your taxes or growing cauliflower. Ask lots of questions, nod politely, and give her parents your full attention. Make sure you react if they're trying to make jokes, and seem like you're genuinely happy to be there and interested in what they have to say. This will make a big difference, and will show them that you're a nice young man.
    • When they ask you questions, don't give them a yes or no or a two-word answer. Take the time to elaborate to show that you care.
    • Even if your girlfriend's parents ask a yes or no question, you can give them a deeper answer. If her father says, "So I hear you're studying history," don't just say, "Yes, I am..." Instead, say, "I'm a history major with a focus in American studies. I've always been kind of a history buff..."
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    Give them your full attention. The most important thing is that you put away your phone. Seriously. Stop texting your friends to make plans for later, stop checking your team's score on, and stop checking your email randomly, no matter how tempting it may be. Turn it off if you have to. The last thing you want to do is to annoy her parents by acting too cool for school by looking at your phone every five seconds. If you're out at a restaurant and the game is on in the background, sorry, buddy, but you'll have to miss out on that one.
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    Be as mature as you can. This doesn't have to mean you have to act all formal if you're only 16, but that you should try to show that you're on the way to becoming a mature young man. Be polite, use good manners, don't use vulgar language, and be graceful and kind during conversation. You can show that you're mature by talking about your future plans, talking about your family with respect, avoiding whining or complaining too much, and by not making any comments that make you seem clueless.
    • Remember that your girlfriend's parents, no matter what age you are, want her to be dating a man, not a boy. They want her to be with someone who will be a good influence on her and who will encourage her to grow.
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    Have good manners. Another important thing to do around your girlfriend's parents is to demonstrate that you have good manners. You don't have to go over the top and act like British aristocracy, but you should make sure to say "please" and "thank you" at the correct times, to ask the people at the table to pass the food instead of reaching across the table and grabbing it yourself, to pull the chair out for your girlfriend (unless she and her parents are more progressive in that regard), and to not interrupt people when they are speaking.
    • It's also polite to know what to call her parents. This part is easy. Just call them whatever they call themselves when you are introduced. If her dad says, "Call me Jim," then don't be afraid to call him Jim; however, if he introduces himself as "Mr. Smith," then you should call him that until he tells you to do otherwise.
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    Avoid controversial topics. The last thing you want to do is to get embroiled in a debate about the political situation in Ukraine or the Catholic church with your girlfriend's parents in the middle of what was supposed to be a nice dinner. If you know that you have very different politics, or if you just want to be polite, then you should stray away from controversial topics. You will not impress anyone, and this will only lead to an embarrassing and uncomfortable conversation.
    • If you feel that the conversation is getting uncomfortable because her parents don't agree with your beliefs, try to delicately change the subject. You can say something like, "I may not go to church on Sunday, but I like watching baseball during the day. Mr. Jones, I hear you're a big Giants fan?"
    • Once you get to know your girlfriend's parents, you can discuss these topics more. However, in the beginning, it's better to stick to the safe topics, even if it's a little boring.
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    Give sincere compliments. Another way you can impress your girlfriend's parents and act appropriately around them is to compliment them or something about them in some way. This shouldn't sound forced and you shouldn't do it too often, but a well-timed compliment can really help them see that you appreciate their company and care for their daughter. Even if the compliment is a bit silly, they will like the fact that you're trying. Here are some things you can compliment:
    • A painting, souvenir, or piece of furniture in their home
    • The food you're eating (if they cooked it)
    • Her mother's earrings
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    Be honest. Parents love honesty no matter what the situation is, it makes them feel more comfortable about their daughter being with you, so always answer their questions with honesty. Not only that, but parents have a lot more experience than you do — they can tell if you're being dishonest, no matter how good you think you are. This doesn't mean you have to be honest about every little thing, like how much you like to smoke pot, but that you shouldn't lie to them when it comes to important topics such as your education or future plans.
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    Exude confidence. Tell yourself that you are a good guy who cares deeply for the daughter of these people. Make yourself feel secure and certain of yourself without a trace of a cocky attitude. It isn't enough to just pretend to be confident — you need to feel it as well, or else it won't reflect as well as you hoped it would. If you want your girlfriend's parents to really have faith in you, then you have to have faith in yourself first.
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    Speak directly and be frank. Make sure that when you first meet the parents, you maintain eye contact when you are speaking with them. Don't look away, mumble, or trail off. Sound confident in what you say and show that you have convictions and that you believe in yourself. Try to avoid saying "Uh" too much or turning to your girlfriend for help when you're at a loss for words. It's okay to take a minute to formulate your words when you need to.
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    Don't act nervous. No matter how nervous you are, keep your head held high. Don't fidget, look around the room, or take too long to answer a question. Just take a deep breath and tell her parents whatever you need to say. It's okay to feel nervous, but you should minimize letting them see how you're feeling as much as you can. If you come off as nervous, then they'll thick you lack confidence and that you're unprepared. Just keep telling yourself that if your girlfriend likes you, that her parents will like you, too.
    • Don't be nervous about looking nervous! That will only make things worse.
    • At the end of the day, know that it's no tragedy if you come off as a littler nervous. Your girlfriend's parents once also had to go through the awkwardness of meeting the parents, and they'll understand where you're coming from.
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    Don't forget to be yourself. Don't fake a personality just to win over the parents. You should not have to change for anyone just to impress them. Remember, your girlfriend chose to be with you for a reason, and plus parents can sense when guys are faking. There's a difference between letting them see the more mature and responsible sides of yourself and pretending to be a completely different person completely. If you plan on being with their daughter in the long run, then you can't keep up an act forever.


  • Don't hang all over each other. Her parents want to think of your girlfriend as their sweet, virginal child - if she's suddenly acting like a tramp, and you're not able to control where your hands are, her parents will not like you. Ever.
  • Don't worry if they don't seem to get onboard right away - give them some time to get used to you.
  • If you already know them- say if you and your girlfriend were good friends before you started "going out"- prepare for the questioning. Moms are always nosy about how their daughters are doing and if she has a good partner.
  • Do be kind and solicitous, especially of her mom. Ask if she needs help when you see her doing things like bringing in the groceries or emptying the trash.
  • If they seem to dislike you from the start, understand what their reasons are for their disapproval. Is it your appearance, your reputation, or have you had fights with your girlfriend which they have overheard, or that she has discussed with them? Any or all of these things can set them against the relationship. Discovering their true objection is the first step in overcoming it.
  • Do not overdo it, or you will come off as fake and too goody-goody. Be your natural, polite self.
  • Ask her about her parents beforehand - You don't want to come off as a jerk. But on the other hand, if they're really not very formal people, don't get too uptight about it. Just be polite, and don't put on a facade.
  • Don't honk your horn if you picking up your girlfriend.
  • Do not add too much cologne on the first date.
  • Don't use your electronics while eating or talking. The parent(s) will think you are technology crazy!
  • Make it clear that you two are dating each other, but remember that you aren't engaged (yet).


  • Appreciate their genuinely kind and hospitable treatment of you, return it with kindness and respect. This could be your future family.
  • Don't overdo it with the compliments. They get annoying after a while. You will seem like a phony.
  • Do not be curt, abrupt, or down right rude to her parents - don't aggravate or antagonize them. Remember these are the people who will eventually give their "blessing" if and when you ask to marry their daughter. You should try to refrain from offending them - not in your best interest. You want her to treat your parents in the same manner, right?
  • Don't constantly be controlling your girlfriend. But don't be the guy who ignores her and only takes time for her when it's convenient for you. Parents won't like this kind of guy for their daughter either. They want a good, stand up guy who wants the best for their daughter and who will put her as a priority in his life.
  • When answering questions, don't overdo it. You might give them a sign that you are not the "one" for their daughter because you tend to talk too much.

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Categories: Family Friends and Dating