Family Ties – Making the Best of Spending Time with Her Family

It’s been a few months ago, and the woman you’re dating is incredible. The two of you are as thick as thieves, and you think things are getting pretty serious. It’s a great feeling, but you start to think to yourself… hey, people all come from somewhere right? There’s a pretty good chance she has parents…. shit.

That’s when it clicks for you. One day, sooner or later (probably sooner), you’ll have to meet her family: parents… sisters… maybe even weird uncles. They’re all waiting in the wings to meet you, and they could either be awesome or some of the worst people you’ve met. But as a wise man once said, you can’t pick your family. At least, your girlfriend or wife didn’t have that option, so you’ll simply need to make due. So on that note, here are a few of the finer points of prospering in the court of your significant other’s family.

When Spending Time with Her Family, or Anyone Else…

I’ve spent quite a bit of time with my girlfriend’s family over the years, and she’s spent time with mine. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, and what it takes to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Because after all…

“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.” 

~ Harper Lee
  1. Make a point of talking to everyone and getting to know them. Perhaps some of you would consider this a no-brainer, but when faced with potentially awkward social situations, many tend to slink into the shadows to avoid pain. This is a bad idea… these people probably aren’t going anywhere for a long time, so you may as well make the best of it and have fun with the whole thing.
  2. Be generous with your money. Certain people make a point of buying the family, say, lunch… or picking up that ice cream cake they know you love to eat every time you come to visit for Christmas. Just as with everyone else in life, reciprocation goes a long way, even if it’s just buying simple personalized gifts for the in-laws, or that bottle of wine that your girlfriend’s father likes so very much.
  3. You may believe it useful to act a certain way, ie: completely different than you usually act, but I think this is terrible advice. No, instead be yourself, to a point. Trying to forever wear a mask around the family is going to become exhausting in short order, and eventually, you’ll slip up anyway. Better to get them acclimated to you right off the bat. Having said that, perhaps try and avoid being completely disgusting and making the family or in-laws feel extremely uncomfortable. No one wants to hear about you banging their daughter, or how you love to get wasted and vomit out the window of taxis. Some things are better left to the gutters of your filthy mind. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of other stories to share with the in-laws.
  4. This isn’t so much a rule, but a useful tool. Make sure to absorb all the embarrassing details of your girlfriend or wife’s childhood. Was she completely unable to ride a bicycle until her teenage years? Good to know. Did clowns make her cry? Write it down. Laugh about these things together as a group, or even just make fun of your woman mercilessly. They’re both valid options.
  5. Drink profusely when possible. I’ve found that it makes all family interactions that much better. Even if you’re already having a great time, a few bottles of wine tends to get people talking, and besides… drinking is just plain fun. Indeed, we don’t need alcohol to have a good time, but it certainly doesn’t hurt any.

Human Interactions: Pain or Pleasure?

Unlike other areas of your life, spending time with your wife or girlfriend’s family isn’t one of those things where a little pain is a good thing. No, you want the experience to be largely enjoyable. That’s why it’s so important to set yourself up for success and simply embrace it. Yes, there are probably going to be aspects of them that you really dislike, and you know what? They probably feel the same way about you – the boyfriend or son-in-law. Dealing with others is just a part of life, so once again, make the best of it and prosper, both in the living room of your in-law’s home during the holidays, in the workplace, or in the world at large



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Chad is the co-founder of Unfinished Man, a leading men's lifestyle site. He provides straightforward advice on fashion, tech, and relationships based on his own experiences and product tests. Chad's relaxed flair makes him the site's accessible expert for savvy young professionals seeking trustworthy recommendations on living well.

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