In reality my parents instantly knew what was up because I was a sophomore in college and I had invited said boy to meet us at Outback Steakhouse. I remember clutching my pants tightly in my fists throughout the entire dinner, hoping that everyone got along and enjoyed themselves. When the check finally came and we went our separate ways, my parents let me know that they were happy I had found a friend. I asked them if they had liked him, to which they replied “that doesn’t really matter, does it?”
In a way, they had a point, but it didn’t make their meeting any less significant for me. For many young people, introducing a significant other to their parents is a colossal sign that they’re ready to take things to the next level. It is also a major source of discomfort for all parties involved. When it goes well, there are fireworks, but when things go badly it can be awkward enough to split up a burgeoning couple. I’ve compiled a list of what to do if your family doesn’t like your significant other, because honestly there are not enough advice columns in the world that truly speak on how uncomfortable this situation can be.
Search For Common Ground
Instead of beating your head against the wall trying to get your family to enjoy your S.O’s company, search for ways to ease everyone into it. Find some crossover between what your parents are interested in and what your S.O is interested in. Maybe it is pottery making, maybe it is NASCAR; whatever the common thread might be, it will at least give everyone involved in the situation a chance to talk about something that they all enjoy. It may not mean your S.O and your parents will get along forever, but at least it will mean having a back-up dinner topic to keep things from getting silent and awkward.
Don’t Force It
Perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice on this list is to not force your S.O and your parents to spend time together. If they don’t get along, being sensitive to that is key. If you try to force everyone to get along, they will end up resenting you for it, and by extension they’ll end up resenting each other even more. If your parents and your S.O don’t get along, take a step back from the situation and try to understand why instead of trying to force them to be in the same room together.
Keep It Casual
When the time comes for your S.O and your parents to be around each other, make sure no party feels backed into a corner. If you set up a situation like a road-trip together, keep in mind that no one involved has an escape route. Sometimes just having people around each other without the added pressure of the holidays or a big event will make things easier. No one likes to be trapped in a situation they hate, and people tend to lash out when they feel like they’re being forced into a situation they may not enjoy.
Realize It Doesn’t Matter
At the end of the day, it is important and healthy to realize that as much as your S.O may hate your parents and vice-versa, it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is if you’re happy, healthy, and feel fulfilled by both of your relationships. If your S.O is putting an extreme strain on your relationship with your parents, ask yourself if it is worth the trouble. If you come to the conclusion that they just don’t like the person who makes you happy for superficial reasons, take solace in the fact that it is your life, not theirs.
Talk To Your Parents
Parents are way smarter than we give them credit for, which is why I suggest asking them why they hate your significant other. Even if you don’t like what they have to say, at least respect them enough to give them a chance to explain themselves. You may be shocked to find they have a perspective on your boo you hadn’t realized before. If they don’t, it is no sweat off your back but at least you know you gave them a chance to say their peace. More often than not, parents just want to say something to verbalize it. By giving them a chance to explain what they think is best for you, you’re acknowledging that maybe they care more about you than you think they do; either way, it is a really nice feeling to know you’re loved that much.