So, most people meet their in-laws before they’re actually bound together through marriage. In the modern dating world, most people meet the prospective in-laws after a few months of dating. This is long before anybody is talking about walking down the aisle. Now, while meeting your significant other’s parents is a stressful situation, you no longer need to be too concerned about what they think about you. Many people date whomever they want, whether their folks approve or not. So we can all rest assured that we won’t get the boot for not being besties with our lover’s mother.


However, if you present yourself as a primitive animal, you’ll face a firing squad. And angering your partner’s entire family will only leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Also, even if their parents don’t have a say in their personal life, if you upset the mom or dad, you’re in for trouble. Your partner won’t approve of your bad behaviour if it affects their family.


So you need to make a good first impression at the very least. Set yourself up for a win. Creating a good first impression takes less than five minutes, which means you need to work hard and quickly to get them to like you. Once this has happened you can relax a bit, but often times the scenario in which this first impression takes place is a lunch or dinner. This means you’ve got to play nicely for a couple of hours at the very least. People will base all their interactions with you on this first impression and if you did a bad job, you’re in for years of judgement. For no other reason other than people don’t like to be wrong. If they’ve decided you lack manners, you’re untidy or your standards are low, they’ll spend their time watching and waiting for all the signs that they’re right.


Thankfully, there are steadfast ways that’ll ensure you leave a good impression at this first, and very daunting, meeting. These are things you can do that will show you off in a positive light. By behaving in this way you could be forgiven for the odd dirty joke you just had to tell, the slip of a swear word into conversation or even missing a future event altogether.


Dress up a little

Even if your partner decides to go to dinner in their ancient sweat pants that you know for a fact they slept in the night before, you cannot do the same. Now it’s not necessary to suit up, but even if you need to dress casual for a family braai, wear your clean, unstained and well-fitted casual wear. Even if you go out in your active wear, make sure it’s the good stuff. You want to make sure that whatever look you go for, it’s the best version of the style. But stay away from dressing too dramatically. Guys, even if you’re into bikes, don’t pull out your Hell’s Angels jacket and ladies, easy on the Kardashian winged tip and oversized lips. Keep it neutral on all fronts.


Have some go-to responses

You never know whether the parents or family members will grill you to find out who you are. Or find out your weakness. So expect tricky conversations and have some already prepared responses. Of course, this means you have to have some idea of who you are and what you stand for and be prepared to say you simply don’t know if you’re unsure or don’t want to answer. But have some insight into current news. Form a light, even funny opinion on the Trump saga in America but perhaps steer clear of strong opinions on the South African government. Have some conversation starters in your back pocket, even if it’s only an opinion on the latest movie you saw. And, if all else fails, ask politely where the restroom is and excuse yourself gracefully.


Manners make the man (or woman)

Check yourself before you wreck yourself with good manners. Mind your Ps and Qs but also don’t allow yourself to get too posh. Acting hoi polloi can be as detrimental as having no manners whatsoever. So say your “pleases” and “thank yous” and clean up after yourself and enquire about the people around and don’t cuss at the dinner table. Don’t interrupt people, choose what you share wisely and don’t drink too much or raise your voice. You know how to behave, it’s how your mother taught you.


Wine and dine with decorum

This is extremely important. There’s nothing more off-putting than someone with terrible eating habits and bad table manners. So, do some research. Know which cutlery to use for which course of the meal and don’t gesticulate with cutlery in your hands. Pointing with your knife or fork is possibly one of the worst things you could do. Don’t try and slice through your beef fillet with the fish knife. If you drop cutlery on the floor ask for a new set. Also, watch your bite sizes and don’t talk with your mouth full. No matter how hungry you are, you mustn’t stuff your face. You need to pace yourself. If the eating time is later than you expected and you know you’ll be hungry, have a filling snack beforehand.

About The Author

I was born in the Eastern Cape, close to the waves. After getting my degree in Media, Communication and Culture, I knew it was time to make my way to a big city. Not wanting to leave the ocean, Cape Town was the natural choice for me. At first I thought the fast paced world of marketing. But I never forgot that what I'd always wanted to do was write. Now I'm a freelance writer, where my office is my bedroom and my platform is the World Wide Web. I live with my partner and our two beloved Great Danes. When not reading or writing you can probably find me on the beach or exploring nature trails.

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