Holding a Successful Family Introduction

by Anne B. Robinson

You’ve met someone amazing, and they could be the one. Things are going so well that you’re considering breaking the “meet my family” barrier. The problem is that there is something about your relationship that may be outside of your parent’s comfort zone, and you aren’t sure how you want to handle that. Here are the steps to make this process easier.

What Makes a Family Introduction Challenging?

It can be hard to introduce a new partner to even the most accepting families. You may have a family with very strong personalities, outspoken political beliefs, or simply very odd ways of doing things. Your family of origin may have traditional beliefs that your dating choices might challenge.

Sadly, there are people who must navigate relationships with family members who hold deeply racist, homophobic, or other hateful beliefs. If this is you, this article wasn’t written for your situation. There simply isn’t a way to handle this introduction in a way that is safe or healthy for you or your partner.

Inform And Empower Your Partner

If you respect your partner enough that you are considering making a big commitment to them, respect them enough to give them all of the relevant details. Why are you concerned about this meeting? What do they need to know about your parents and their beliefs?

Then, let them decide if they want to continue with the meeting, and respect their choice. Remember that no person is obligated to allow themselves to be used as a tool to challenge another person’s prejudices or preconceived notions. It also isn’t your partner’s job to be a prop in your efforts to enlighten your family.

Prioritize Your Mental Health And Peace of Mind

Your mental health is also important. Even if your family surprises you by being more open-minded than you expect, this process can do a real number on your mental health. Keep that in mind, and give yourself plenty of space to process things or simply enjoy some respite from the chaos that challenging families often create.

You may find that it helps you to keep the introductory visit short. Also, consider scheduling it when there aren’t other factors to make the situation more stressful for everyone. A family wedding, funeral, or holiday is probably not the best time to introduce your new partner. Instead, have a casual lunch or afternoon BBQ. If people are eating, playing games, or watching TV together, perceived differences often fall away.

Design an Information Diet

You shouldn’t lie to your family. That doesn’t mean you need to tell them everything. For example, your internet-phobic dad could probably go the rest of his life without knowing you met your true love on the Taimi app or that you are in an intense BDSM relationship.. Some things can definitely be left on a need-to-know basis. Even if you think a family member’s approach is puritanical and close-minded, they still have the right not to be exposed to things they don’t consent to.

Set Clear Boundaries

What are you willing to accept from your family? Know your boundaries beforehand, and make them clear. If your family pushes beyond those, cut conversations short. End the visit if you must. You cannot control what your relatives believe or how they feel. But you do get to control what you will accept.

Final: Get an Emotional Support Friend

You’re going to want to find a supportive friend or family member to serve as your support system. This might be your hometown BFF, a super cool aunt, or a sibling who has been through all of this before you. They will be the one to talk you down when you are most frustrated or smoke you out when you need to let off steam.

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