Dear 100 Hour Board,
How do you impress your significant other's parents when you meet them for the first time?
Be your best self. I mean, if you do something crazy just to impress your future in-laws, then they will come to expect that from you every time you interact with them. It will be much easier just to show up and *figuratively* say, "Here I am, this is what you're going to get for the rest of eternity. Hope you like me!" instead of saying, "Here is something I'm going to do because it's the first time I'm meeting you, but I'm never ever going to do this or act this way from now on. I hope you're prepared to be disappointed in the future."
-Sunday Night Banter
P.S. Wow, am I just a drop of golden sunshine or what?
Do a back flip.
Yes, obviously be yourself. Their child fell in love with you for a reason, and you just have to let that amazing personality shine. However, I realize that can be harder said than done, and it's completely nerve-wracking to meet your significant other's parents for the first time. That anxiety makes it a lot harder to be yourself. So, in the absence of you feeling comfortable enough to really be yourself, there are still things you can do to make a good impression.
- Wear nice clothes that are appropriate for the occasion. Now is not the time to wear your favorite old t-shirt and your oldest, comfiest pair of jeans. Dress to impress.
- Smile! Not non-stop, you don't want to seem like a crazy maniac, but, you know, throw one in every now and then.
- Ask the parents questions about themselves. Most people really enjoy it when others take an interest in them, and will naturally warm up to someone who seems to care about them. This is also a good time to use bits of trivia that your significant other already told you about their parents. For example, "Mark said you're a software developer. What project are you working on right now?" or, "So I hear you really like to paint. That's so cool! How did you first get into that?"
- Compliment the parents. It can be on their clothes, or their hair, or their witty conversational skills, or on raising someone who you obviously think is a good enough person to date. People generally like receiving compliments, and therefore they tend to like the givers of compliments, too.
- Have some good talking points about yourself. Now is your chance to brag about how awesome you are, but in a humble way (without having it come off as a humble brag). Chances are the parents are going to ask you some questions about yourself, and like in an interview, you want to present yourself in the best light while still being honest. Talk about how amazing your mission was and how cool it is to be able to speak a foreign language! Tell them why you think your major is great and how you'll be able to make the world a better place because of it! Discuss how you're going to be graduating soon! Talk about your awesome job! You don't have to be a perfect person, and it's okay for you to not totally have your life figured out right now to be able to portray a picture-perfect representation of your life, but let them know that at the very least you've done something worthwhile in your life. They want to make sure that the person their child is dating is worth their time, so have some cool facts about yourself at the ready to help assuage their fears.
- Try to find common ground with the parents. The sooner you can stop making awkward small talk and talk about something you both care about, the better. And hopefully talking about something that you're passionate about will help you relax to the point that you can be your best self. Katya gives some great advice in Board Question #92308 on how to find common ground with people.
- Finally, don't freak out if there are some minor awkward moments. You going in for a hug while the mom was just trying to give you a handshake is fine. Telling a joke that falls flat isn't the end of the world. It's not a big deal if there are awkward silences. Sometimes those little social hiccups just happen, and I can almost guarantee that the parents, being older than you, have experienced many more over the course of their lives than you have, and they know that life goes on despite them and wonderful relationships can blossom despite them.