We’re officially entering the busiest time of the year, with every new month leading up to a major holiday, and endless family gatherings sprinkled throughout. There are parties to plan and attend, presents to buy, and holiday cards to send out.
And if you’ve recently started dating a new guy, who you’ve yet to introduce to your family, then the holidays are the time of year when everyone expects to meet your new beau. But with taking this step comes some stress. After all, we just want everyone to get along, and for our new boyfriend to put his best foot forward.
But the worries start to pile up. What if things don’t go well? Are there introduction “rules” we should try to follow? How can we just make sure it all goes smoothly?
Make Sure Everyone Is Aware He’s Coming
There’s nothing more jarring than when an unexpected guest shows up at a family gathering, especially if the host had been planning for a specific number of people, easily leading them to be annoyed by every unannounced guest’s presence. While your boyfriend might treat them with kindness and graciousness, some people don’t react as well to spontaneous changes to plans.
Even if your decision to bring your boyfriend along is last minute, letting the host know as soon as you can will get everyone off on the right foot and leave less room for totally avoidable awkward encounters.
Clue Him in on Any Family Dynamics
You know your family’s dynamics: your aunt’s weird philosophical rants, your cousin’s intimidating silence, your grandmother’s need for compliments on her table setting, your brother’s odd sense of humor, or your mom’s decades-long rivalry with her sister. You know these dynamics intimately, giving you the opportunity to fill your boyfriend in on anything he should expect.
Fill him in beforehand on whatever you feel is necessary. This will help prepare him for any topics he should stay away from, help him handle any awkward moments with grace, and know when you’ll be throwing him the we’re going to talk about that later side glances.
Prepare Both Parties Accordingly
You’ll be acting as the middleman all night, the bridge between your family and your boyfriend. And since you’re the only expert on both parties, it’s up to you to thoroughly prepare them to interact with the other respectfully and meaningfully.
Tell your family as much as you can about your boyfriend before he shows up on their doorstep, like what he does for a living, where he’s from, about his personality, or if he has any allergies they should be aware of. Giving your family a good image of who he is will allow them to get past anything they could’ve been surprised by. For example, say your family is on the loud, gregarious side, and your boyfriend was raised as an only child in a quiet household. Telling them he might not match their levels of friendliness because of this will help keep them from assuming he’s being rude or is just plain odd.
On the flip side, it’s important to prepare your boyfriend for any of your family’s traditions or expectations. Maybe it’s a tradition for the men in your family to gather on the porch with some whiskey after dessert, or maybe you always watch a particular movie as a family, or maybe you always play a game that goes around the dinner table. Let your boyfriend know what’s to be expected so he won’t be caught off-guard.
Make Sure To Check In with Yourself
As the go-between for both your family and your boyfriend, you’re bound to get tired, overwhelmed, and testy. After all, you’re the one with all the answers. This can easily lead you to exhaust yourself with making sure everyone else is okay.
But it's important to check in with yourself amid your boyfriend’s introductions and your family’s dinner gathering to make sure that you’re not just at peace but happy with how everything is going. Make sure that you and your desires don’t get lost in the middle of trying to please everyone else.
Family holiday gatherings have their own stresses and dynamics. Don’t add to any worries by leaving your boyfriend’s introductions up to chance. Take charge and make sure that everything goes well to give yourself peace of mind.
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