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Christmastime: Meeting Your Date's Family

"Ask April" Author of the best selling "Date Out Of Your League" at AskApril.com

Preparing To Meet His Family

Dear April,
My boyfriend just invited me to spend Christmas Eve with his family and I don’t know what to do. On one hand, I’m excited that he’s bringing me home to meet his family. On the other hand, I’m freaked out. All these questions are racing through my mind now like should I reciprocate, and invite him back to my house? I’m so embarrassed of my own parents. I really like this guy. Help me!
Signed,
Guess who’s coming to dinner – me!

Answer

Dear Dinner Guest
You’re probably not the only one who’s nervous. Introducing a boyfriend or girlfriend to your family for the first time is a major step in any relationship that announces, "We're serious." No one should introduce a boyfriend to your family unless this is someone you want to go all the way with -- and I DON'T mean sex. I mean marriage or a long term, committed relationship. If you’re not serious about him, don’t bring him home to meet the family – unless it’s in a group of your friends who are coming for dinner.

That said if he is “the one,” you’re going to have deal with the fact that families can be embarrassing. It’s chronic; it’s historical, and it doesn’t end except with familiarity, and that involves conquering fear, which you may want to read about in my new book, Think & Date Like a Man, where I offer extensive tips on fear and confidence that you need for these situations and more. But for now, here are a few tips to make everyone feel at ease.

If someone in your family is racist, anti-semitic or a serial-insulter, alert your girlfriend or boyfriend, and decide ahead of time how you both are going to handle any negative outcomes, should they arise. Whenever family has differences -- whether political, social or person -- with someone you’re introducing, there can be sparks.

Make a few back up plans. If Uncle Ernie starts making racist comments, or disparaging remarks over the fact that your boyfriend is an actor, or unemployed, or a no-good lawyer, you and the boyfriend can decide to confront Uncle Ernie, laugh it off, let it go, or leave.

Those are just a few options. You can come up with half a dozen more on your own. This is a good life tool for couples to have in their relationship toolbox. If you and your boyfriend don’t feel victimized by the relatives personalities and foibles, you’re much more likely to relax and have a great time.

If anyone in your family is alcoholic, recovering from something like an eating disorder, drug abuse, or has a chronic illness, or a new divorce, you should let your boyfriend know so he doesn't show up with a case of wine as a gift or make jokes about dying or any other topic that may be off color given the circumstances.

One of the worst anxieties has to do with "what could happen." A way to alleviate this is get your fears out on the table. Tell your boyfriend (or a girlfriend or two, over a lunch date) what your fears are. Get them ALL out. Everything. Once you talk it through, the big scary fears may get deflated. In addition, your girlfriend or boyfriend may be able to tell you all about their own awful family embarrassments, so you don't feel so alone. What you thought was the worst thing possible, compared with his "war stories" suddenly seem pretty mundane.

Discuss a hostess gift with your boyfriend. Some guys don't know that they should bring a gift to your mother. Educate him. Tell him what she would really like. Or what your dad would like. If this is a holiday gathering, a fail safe gift is a holiday plant like a Poinsetta, or festive centerpiece , also great are a box of goodies for the entire family. If the family loves music, he might want to burn them a compilation of great holiday songs, which is very thoughtful, and they can put it on the stereo and have something to listen to and talk about.

Regardless of what it is, when he shows up at the door with a big gift basket, a bunch of CDs that he either bought or burned himself, the attention will be on the gift, and you can avoid any awkward getting to know you silences or not quite knowing what to say.

Remember, this is not the time to give a complete resume of your life. The goal of the visit is to have a nice time and keep it light. If you do, there will plenty more visits to come where you get to know his or her family bit by bit.

Finally, a few tips to take way

Never show up to a party or a dinner empty-handed. It's bad manners and it's inconsiderate. Whether it's a cocktail party, a dinner party, a Christmas party or you're a weekend guest at someone's home, bring something. Visit my column on “Gifts to Give When You’re A Guest” if you are unsure of the rules or need some advice, tips and ideas.

Gift Giving doesn’t have to be stressful... When in doubt, visit AskApril.com’s “Gift Giving Rules, Tips & Advice" column --it offers answers and solutions to all your gift giving questions, along with tips and advice for any (and every) gift giving occasion.

Follow these tips, relax, and enjoy your holiday visit!

Sincerely, April

Ready for even more bold, brutally honest, and always helpful dating advice? Visit Web site, www.AskApril.com There, you'll find informative articles, expert columnists, interactive quizzes, and free giveaways! And don't forget to also check out my workshops, designed to help you find you real "soul mate"!

© April Masini. Making it happen for you!
If you’re ready to get serious about finding a relationship that will really work for you—but aren’t quite ready to sign up for an arranged marriage—then my workshops on dating, love, and all around success might be just what the doctor ordered. Please visit www.AskApril.com.

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