The beginning stages of a relationship are always exciting. Lots of flirting, fun dates, getting to know each other, new feelings arising!
But at some point, you reach a stage that can (and often does!) put a damper on things: meeting the parents (and the rest of the family).
Once you’ve met them, it’s expected that you may be invited to join them at family events and outings so they can get to know you better.
If you feel shy and awkward around them, it can make the relationship feel strained. You may even be hesitant to hang out with them.
Try to overcome your shyness by using a few of these tips!
Why you might be nervous and awkward around your boyfriend’s family
If you weren’t acquainted with your boyfriend’s family before the two of you started dating, it can be intimidating to spend time with them. Even if you did know each other prior, it can still feel awkward because you’re meeting them in a new capacity: as his girlfriend.
Families with an especially close bond can sometimes be wary of welcoming outsiders, especially one as important as a significant other, because you have the potential to alter the established dynamics. Not to mention, you could potentially put him through the ringer and break his heart later on.
You’re most likely nervous because you want them to accept you. If they don’t, it can make the relationship a little more complicated.
It’s totally normal to be nervous, but don’t let that stop you from making an effort to put your best foot forward. Read on for tips to get in good with his fam!
How to stop being shy and awkward around your boyfriend’s family
1. Hang out in a neutral setting
Try getting to know them away from their territory. Doing an activity outside of their home helps even the playing field a little bit and can make everyone involved a little more comfortable.
Suggest a group activity that the whole group can enjoy, like playing putt-putt, going to a park, or visiting a museum or aquarium together.
2. Break away from the group
Get members of the family alone to get to know them more on a personal level outside of the family dynamic! Understanding each person individually can help you feel more comfortable when you’re all together.
Making connections and bonding with them on a personal basis will also help them warm up to you. In a group setting, tight-knit members will sometimes play off of each other’s feelings. Do something fun with one or two of them at a time to ease the tension and form genuine bonds.
Here are a few examples of how to bond with individual family members:
- Get a mani/pedi with his mom
- Go shopping with his sister
- Talk to his dad about his hobbies like cars or history
- Play a few rounds of video games with his brother
- Invite his siblings or cousins to see a movie with the two of you
- Teach his younger sibling how to play Go Fish or Tic-Tac-Toe
It’s important to just be yourself when spending one-on-one time with his family. Don’t brag too much about yourself and don’t pretend to know things or have skills (unless you actually have them) to create commonalities. Just be honest, kind, and genuine.
3. Remember, they’re just people.
Keep in mind always that they’re not immortal, all-powerful beings that have the ability to change your relationship in an instant. They’re just people! People with hopes and dreams, people with pasts, people with shame and sorrows and flaws all their own!
In other words, they’re completely ordinary. All that makes them important in this situation is that they’re important to him. If he already loves you, why shouldn’t they love you just as much?
What to do if you think your boyfriend’s family are making you uncomfortable on purpose
1. Determine who is leading the hostility
Sometimes, the opposition is orchestrated by one or two members of the group who are holding a grudge.
Others may feel neutral or even favor you, but they don’t feel like they can stop the aggression (or they join in) for fear of breaking ranks. Figure out who really has a problem with you so you can address it directly.
2. Get real with them
Talk to the person or people who are causing the majority of the issue. Approach them as diplomatically as possible and start a dialogue with them about how you feel and how to repair the relationship. You might say something like this:
“Hey, can I borrow your ear for a few moments? I really want us to have a good relationship for Boyfriend’s sake, and I feel like I’ve been trying very hard to facilitate that. From where I’m standing, it sometimes feels like it’s not been received well. I wanted to talk to you to see if I’ve done something wrong or if there are other factors I don’t know about that are keeping us from having a positive relationship.”
From there, listen earnestly and address their concerns (if they have any) once they’ve finished their explanation. If they deny any sort of animosity, reiterate specific events or conversations that have made you feel uncomfortable, like so:
“When x happened” or “When you made x comment, I felt y.”
Once you feel you’ve reached a resolution, cement it with an act of goodwill!
Send a thank you text or note outlining how happy and thankful you are that they were willing to get vulnerable with you, and how you’re looking forward to having fun with them in the future.
3. Take the high road
Continue to treat them with kindness and empathy, but don’t accept abuse or disrespect from them.
Firmly but calmly let them know that you don’t spend time or engage in conversations with people who don’t offer the same respect you offer to them.
4. Talk to your boyfriend about it
If you’ve already tried a few of the steps above, it may be an appropriate time to get your boyfriend involved. It’s his family, after all.
Have him talk to them about how they act around you or treat you ahead of the next scheduled get-together. It may be a little awkward once you start hanging around them again, but in time it will start to feel natural.
5. Limit contact if they refuse to be kind
Lastly, if you’ve tried everything and they still refuse to be friendly or even cordial towards you, it may be best to protect your peace and limit contact with them.
Your boyfriend should still be able to hang out with them if he wants to (they are still his family), but he shouldn’t be tolerant of disrespectful comments or jokes made at your expense. If you’re not there to defend yourself, they’re just taking cheap shots and he should address them on your behalf.
There are a few instances where you may still have to see them, like holidays, but decreasing the amount of time you spend with them will be beneficial for your mental health in the long run.
Keep working on honing these skills and you’ll get over your anxieties in no time! You may even become one of the fam with enough due diligence.
Above all, just remember to be yourself. If it was enough to capture your boyfriend’s heart, it should work just as well on his family.
Were these tips helpful? Check out more relationship tips!