The first meeting between you and your girlfriend's parents can be a nerve-wracking experience. If they don't approve of you, it might not be the end of the relationship, but it can pave the way to an awkward future for your dating life. By appearing confident, you can win their trust and assert yourself as a fine match for their daughter. But first, learn a few strategies that will help you boost and maintain your self-confidence when you meet them.
Ask your girlfriend a few questions about her parents before the meeting, suggests psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker in her PsychCentral article, "Meet the Parents: Navigating the Holiday Dinner without the Stress." Get to know her parent's interests, dislikes and personalities beforehand. This reduces the uncertainty involved with your first meeting, so you can enter the encounter with a confident attitude. In addition, you will have some conversation points to start off with.
Speak and Listen
It's easy to lose confidence when it comes to conversing with the parents, which leads to awkward silences. However, you can alleviate some of that social pressure by taking your focus off of your own insecurities and replacing it with curiosity. Ask questions and take a sincere interest in the answers your girlfriend's parents offer, suggests Hartwell-Walker. Reply to their responses or keep things going with follow-up questions. In time, you will forget your own internal doubts and fears. Remember to mind your manners and stay away from sensitive topics.
Watch Your Posture
Having the right body posture can engender feelings of confidence, suggests a study by professor of psychology Richard Petty et al. In the study, participants who were told to maintain an upright and confident posture rated themselves more highly than those who were told to slouch. Approach your girlfriend's parents with a confident posture, without looking too stiff. Keep your back straight, chin up and shoulders relaxed. Practice this in front of a mirror before the engagement.
Hold a Smile
Wear a smile when you meet your girlfriend's parents. Smiling comes with numerous psychological benefits, suggests professor of leadership and organizational psychology Ronald E. Riggio, in his Psychology Today article, "There's Magic in Your Smile." For example, smiling releases neurotransmitters that boost your mood, such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. This will relax your body while allowing you to look sociable and confident in front of her parents.
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images