Building a relationship with your girlfriend’s dad can be one of the most intimidating experiences a man can face. This is the man who raised her, and all of her expectations about men stem from this all-important bond. Meanwhile, he wants reassurance that his little girl will be treated with respect. It may be choppy waters to navigate at first, but, with time, things can get easier.
It's Not a Test
While it is true that you may have to earn your girlfriend's parents' trust, thinking of this as a pass or fail situation will only make things worse. Do your best to act naturally even though it's completely normal to feel nervous around your girlfriend's father. Rather than put pressure on yourself to succeed at some arbitrary test, view it as a journey. That way, if you do commit a faux pas, you won’t think it’s the end of the world. Simply acknowledge the bumps in the road and move forward.
Find Common Interests
It’s not always easy, but even the most different personality types can share some of the same interests. It might be a good idea to ask your girlfriend ahead of time about what her father likes to do or talk about. You could also check out his social media profiles for ideas, but be discreet. You won't want to come across like a stalker! Keep things casual, don't try too hard and let your commonalities speak for themselves.
Whether it's fishing, hitting the golf course or remembering birthdays, do your best to avoid competing with your girlfriend’s father and allow yourself to focus on the positive. While you are both vying for the love of the same woman, albeit in two very different ways, it can be a blow to the ego to be defeated by a newcomer. Instead of trying to impress at his expense, find ways to play on the same team in order to encourage a feeling of cooperativeness.
Remember that romances may come and go, but that this man will always be her father. Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright advocates seeing things from a parent's perspective in situations such as this. Your girlfriend's father has cared for her all of her life and has been there for her many ups and downs. If he gives you a hard time, it’s probably because he wants the best for his little girl. Show him respect and you may very well win him over.
- Evolution & Behaviour: The Evolution of Parent–Offspring Conflict Over Mate Choice
- PsychCentral: Five Strategies to Revitalize Relationships
- Don't Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws into Family; Ruth Nemzoff
- Psychology Today; Mate, Relate and Communicate
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