It’s easy to get ourselves worked up about introducing the man in our life to our family. Perhaps we are envisioning something akin to what Ben Stiller goes through in the comedy Meet the Parents. Hide your cat, and lock Dad away so he can’t interrogate him!
Don’t worry, things can’t go as badly as they did for poor Gaylord “Greg” Focker and his girlfriend. Still, there is no denying, meeting the parents is a pretty big deal. How our boyfriend gels with our family can oftentimes make the difference between a future of drama or a future of bliss.
But you are not the only one analyzing the situation. Your boyfriend also hopes to learn some things about you and your future together from your family. To get a sense of what kinds of things men are on the lookout for, I asked a group of seven guys what’s on their mind when they meet the parents. This is what they said.
What will she act like around them?
The fact that we are most ourselves when we’re with our families hasn’t slipped past these guys. In fact, this is one of the things that all of the men I spoke to value most about a chance to meet their girlfriend’s family.
Justin explains, “I think we are much more easily ourselves around our family. Our old habits, memories, values all start to come out (for better or for worse). If anything, it should help us better understand each other and embrace each other for who we are.”
Dan also says that with his now fiancée, meeting the family was a big moment for their relationship. “Meeting the family isn’t the make or break of a relationship, but it sure does tell a lot,” he explains. “Meeting my fiancée’s family was a big reason why I was sure I could keep dating her. It gave me great insight into her character, drive, and humor.”
What is her mom like?
We have heard this one before, but several of the men I interviewed felt that meeting their girlfriend’s mom was a glimpse into her future. Bill said that he has always been told, “If you want to know what your girlfriend will be as an adult, go meet her mother,” and he has taken this to heart.
While Enzo explains that he looks for a lot more than superficial things when he meets his girlfriend’s family, he also can’t help but wonder, “What does her mom look like? Because that’s what she’s going to look like eventually.”
Oh, but it’s not just her mom in the hot seat. Colin says that he hopes his girlfriend’s dad will be someone he can respect and jive with, too. “Whether her dad is someone you could get along with, that you could learn something from, that you won’t have one of those terrible caricatured relationships with him where you’re complete adversaries, is very important,” Colin explains.
Is her family dynamic healthy, and will they support us?
When these guys go into a Meet the Parents situation, they want to know that they will gel with their girlfriend’s family and that the family will support their relationship.
“When I meet her parents, and they’re awesome, it makes me fall in love with her even more!” Enzo says. But then he also explains that he knows not everyone can boast an amazing family dynamic, and you shouldn’t be judged for that. “I steer clear from weighing them against the qualities of the girl,” Enzo explains. “If the family sucks, that’s a cross that we will carry together. It’s just part of the deal. I’m a strong believer that you don’t marry people, you marry families.”
Andrew agrees with Enzo that a tough family dynamic is not necessarily a deal breaker; in fact, he found that this turned out to be an opportunity to love his now fiancée even more. “I learned to be sympathetic to her own weaknesses,” Andrew says. “Her parents have been going through a tough time since I met them, and meeting them has given me a chance to see a deeper, hidden aspect of my fiancée’s life. I am now better able to understand her struggles and how to support her.”
Isaac also explains that he likes to know that his girlfriend’s family has a healthy dynamic and that the family will support their relationship. “I’m happy to prove myself, don’t get me wrong,” Isaac explains. “But if there is too much of a sense of ‘he has to prove himself, or we won’t support it,’ that can be a recipe for disaster.”
Photo Credit: Jess Hunter Photography