Ah, the coveted approval of your girlfriend’s family; there are few things in life that seem so trivial and yet are of utmost importance. You could probably get through life without changing their opinion of you but it’s likely against your interest. Two words to help you realize the monumental significance of what her mom thinks of you: guest bedroom. No, seriously, do you want to be stuck sleeping in the guest bedroom every time you sleep over? “Fuck you man, I’m 21. I’ll sleep where I want”. Oh will you? Are you going to tell her father that, or should I? Now that you’re hopefully aware this is something you should pay attention to, I can get started…
Remember when you were nine years old and every now and then the lunch room would break out in arguments of my older brother could beat your older brother up? Well unfortunately those older brothers now have their sights set on whoever’s banging their sister (AKA you). On the plus side though, they’re probably the easiest to win over which is why we start here. It’s simple science really: just don’t be a huge dickhead and they’ll like you. Older brothers are the only ones who have a real gauge on what you’re like. Unlike her parents, he can see through the make-believe bullshit like bringing a nice bottle of wine for dinner. He cares about what kind of beer you drink, your favorite football team and whether or not you’re going to cheat on his innocent younger sister. Having said that, being the easiest to recruit they will be the first one to abandon your ship should you break her heart.
The best approach to take here is to look at them as a potential friend. Find your common interests, tell funny drunk stories, and reassure him that you’re not a douchebag. Think of it as trying to cozy up to the cool kids at school; you want them to like you for who you are but you’re willing to change your preferred brand of vodka to fit in. Also, let him win at Xbox.
TIP: It’s important here to make sure you know where the line is. There is an invisible ceiling on your friendship as long as you continue to date his sister. You’re going to be forced to take her sides in arguments so spending too much time with him might not be a great idea.
Wine, wine, wine and more wine. Honestly, just show up with a bottle of wine every single time you know she’s going to be at the house. That may be a little excessive, so we’ll create a rule of thumb: If you’re going to eat any of their food or drink any of their booze you will bring a bottle of wine. They don’t even have to be expensive; it’s just a nice gesture. Another suggestion is to treat her in the same manner you would treat her daughter. If she’s telling a boring story you will listen, if she’s cooking you will tell her it’s fantastic (and assist with dishes), and if she gets too drunk at dinner you will reassure her that everything is alright. In essence, you will attempt to be the perfect son.
TIP: Think of the way you treat your best friend’s mom: likely better in some manners than you treat your own mom. You address her politely, frequently compliment the cooking and occasionally tease your friend together. This is the kind of relationship you will attempt to forge with your mother-in-law.
Also, take into consideration that should your relationship dissolve she could potentially tell her mom every detail of the break up (including the 4am screaming cellphone fights) whereas her farther probably won’t hear the full story.
I don’t have a 20-year-old daughter but I can imagine the communication lines between one and her father are rusty to say the least. He’s not going to know why she came home crying Friday night when she was supposed to spend the entire long weekend at your cottage, but he’s going to damn well hate you for it. To be truthful, its luck of the draw: some dads are going to despise you regardless of what a stand-up guy you are. I don’t know why that is but I’ve narrowed it down to either the whole his-daughter-lets-you-bang-her-thing or the fact that you have the ability to completely destroy her emotional state. On the other hand, some father-in-laws are great and will enjoy a competitive hockey pool rivalry, or even ask her to invite you to the Sunday afternoon barbecue.
TIP: There are very few generic tips I can give you other than the repeated advice to not be a jackass so we’ll leave it at that (FYI this includes smart-ass, definitely don’t be a smart-ass).
Honestly, try to just sit there without pissing him off while occasionally contributing to conversation and offering to grab him a beer each time you get one and you should be fine.
The real fun is when the entire family is together and you have to focus on impressing them all individually while simultaneously waiting on your girlfriend. Remember, while her family is important she is priority #1. All of the compliments to her mom’s cooking don’t mean shit if she dumps you. Keep her happy and you’ll win them over in no time.
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