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How to ace your first meet-the-parents

Techly's How To Adult Series

Meeting your partner’s parents for the first time is usually the stuff of nightmares, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that Meet the Parents was such a huge hit.

The glaring looks, the hand-cramping handshake, the lie detector test — some first-time meetings belong in horror movies.

But if your partner’s parents are decent people, meeting them doesn’t need to be a disaster.

Today you are going to put on your big boy/girl pants and learn how to ace meeting your other half’s parents.

I’m going to assume you know to look the part for this first meeting, so you’ve already aced the first step.

The next few steps will help you slide into this meeting like a pro, and you’ll be so confident your partner’s folks might wonder if you’ve been meeting parents your whole life.

Bring something

Homer with flowers and chocolates

You may rock up to your friend’s home empty-handed (even your partner’s), but when you’re meeting the parents for the very first time, take something.

If you’re broke, pick some flowers. If you’re not, take a bottle of wine, a dessert, maybe cookies. Ask your guy/gal if there is anything their parents absolutely won’t accept, though.

You don’t want to rock up with a cheesecake to find out everyone is vegan. You also don’t want to offer a gift of wine when there’s a history of alcoholism in the family. When in doubt, just offer up a soy candle.

Eye contact

Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrel staring each other down in 'The Campaign' (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Remember that kid in school who looked shifty AF because he never made eye contact with you when he asked to borrow your coloured pencils?

That’s exactly how you’ll look to your partner’s parents when you don’t make eye contact. So make some eye contact.

That said, be careful how much. You don’t want to be gazing at your shoes, but you don’t want to be caught staring, either.

Please, please look away. Practice talking to yourself in the mirror with eye contact; I’m trusting you’ll know how much is too much after this exercise.

Lay off the PDA

Father of the Bride, courtesy of Touchstone Pictures

Don’t go overboard with the affection. Please. No slaps on the butt. No tongues. Nothing that you wouldn’t want your grandmother witnessing.

A slight touch of the arm or a hold of the hand is fine, but keep it dialled back.

If you’re unsure how much affection is too much, you should just give all PDA a miss while in the presence of new parents.

Become the master of compliments

There's Something about Mary, courtesy of 20th Century Fox

You know what people love? They love to be liked. And when you step in that home for the first time, you better be ready to throw out compliments on the stupidest levels.

A family room full of books? “What a great collection you have!”

A kitchen with windows? “I love all the natural sunlight in here.”

Mum pretended to cook that takeout meal she’s serving? “Wow, Mrs Smith, I love this dish. What’s in it?”

Yes, you’ll feel like you’re kissing too much ass, but it works (believe me).

Find that common ground

Get Out, courtesy of Universal Pictures

So you know your partner’s father is obsessed with WWII? Brush up on your history. Maybe your partner’s mother is originally from Romania — learn to say hello in Romanian.

Finding common ground is a great way to break the ice. And you want to break the ice so your partner’s parents like you. And you want those parents to like you so you have better chances of your relationship progressing.

If you really can’t find anything in common with the parents you’re meeting, fear not. Just brush up on your conversational skills.

If you ever get to that awkward moment where there is absolutely nothing to talk about… the weather is your friend.

Be yourself (I know, so clichéd)

Phoebe meets Mike's parents in 'Friends'.

They say you should never show your true self at a job interview, but when it comes to meeting your partner’s parents, loosen up and be yourself.

There’s no use pretending to be someone you’re not; you won’t be able to keep up with the little white lies.

Remember that many people before you have met their future in-laws. You got this. You can do it.

Just don’t show too much of yourself in the first meeting. Talking about your passion for fostering kittens is a great conversation topic; talking about your bad money management skills probably isn’t.

Now that we’ve gone through the basics, don’t you feel ready to conquer your fear of meeting the parents? You got this.

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