Everyone knows the importance of a guy making your family like him, obviously. I have friends who wouldn’t even think of continuing to date a guy after their dad decided he didn’t like the boyfriend in question. Even I, as headstrong and rebellious as I’ve been known to be, have been swayed against guys because of what my family thought. I think what we forget, most of the time, is why it’s so important for his family to like you, too.
The scary thing about dating is that when you start a relationship, he’s always either going to become your ex or your husband. This means that his family is either going to be a group of people who ends up hating you for hurting their precious baby, or they’re going to become YOUR family. If your relationship isn’t good with them, it can seriously screw up your relationship with HIM. That, my friends, is not okay. If you’re putting 100 percent of the effort into your relationship that you should be, then you’re already making the effort to get to know his family. If you’re not, then you’re not doing everything that you can to make your relationship a success, and you need to get on it.
Look, if you’re not on good terms with his mother, there’s a problem. Growing up, I lived in a house where if my mom wasn’t happy, NOBODY was happy. My dad always said that the first rule was to keep my mom happy. So please, don’t start that creepy war with his mother over who’s going to be the favorite woman in his life. Accept that she birthed him, raised him, put him through college, and that thus far, she’s been the only consistent woman in his life. My boyfriend LOVES his mother. (Not in that bad, creepy, mama’s boy kind of way, obviously. Been there, done that, it’s so not worth it.) He obviously values her opinion on things, and she’s very important in his life. This means that if she’s not happy with me, chances are, he’s not either. (Luckily for me, his mother is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, so it’s not hard to love her.) But even if your guy’s mother is awful, it’s important to make an effort with her, to try to connect. At least he’ll see you trying and give you an A for effort. Chances are, the only reason she wouldn’t like you is because you might be about to take her baby away, and one day you’ll be doing the same things to whatever girl thinks she’s good enough for your son. Cut her some slack.
Siblings are a little trickier, obviously. Some people feel like their opinion might matter a little less, but I can tell you that if my big sisters hate a guy, there’s usually a good reason why. It’s important to get to know his siblings. Not just so you can say hi at family gatherings, either–ACTUALLY get to know them. If you’re faking it, they can tell, and there’s nothing families hate more than that girl who’s only pretending to like them. Listen to them when they talk. If you’re not a big talker, the least you can do is listen and remember the things that they say to you. I may not talk a lot or loudly when I’m around his family, but I remember just about everything they say, and it comes in handy later on.
Then there’s the big one: his father. While most guys say they don’t really care what good ol’ dad thinks, most guys are also usually lying. If they’re anything like my boyfriend, their father’s opinion is actually really important to them. And, as the patriarch of the family, his opinion of you could change everyone else’s, for better or worse. Of course, if you’re shy, it might be hard to figure out if his father likes you or not, so you might just have to play it by ear. I’m still praying that I’ve made a good impression on his dad, and I might never know for sure. But at least I’m trying, and you should be, too.
The truth is, there’s no list of rules that I can give you to make his family like you. There’s no specific formula to make them beg him to propose so he can lock down a catch like you. You may never call his parents Mom and Dad, and that’s okay. The only thing you can really do is try. Be polite, be genuine. Show them how much you care about their son, their brother. Act like you care what they think about you, because you should. When you’re with his family, whatever is happening on your phone, on Twitter, or on Facebook doesn’t matter. Put it away and get to know the people who gave you the man sitting next to you. I can guarantee that they’re more interesting than anything that’s being said online anyway. Don’t try to isolate him. His family is just as important as yours, so if you ever get to that weird we-live-together-so-what-Christmas-are-we-going-to stage, don’t throw a fit if he wins rock, paper, scissors and it’s his. (We decide everything based off of varying games of rock, paper, scissors.) It’s just as important for the two of you to spend time with his family as it is for you two to go see yours.
Family is the one thing that remains consistent throughout most of our lives, and if they’re important to him, they should be important to you. Even if they don’t see you trying, he’s going to, and he’ll appreciate it. So even when you’re not around them, make that effort. There’s nothing weird or wrong with you asking about how his sister’s doing, or if his mother is feeling better. He’s going to appreciate your interest, and you’re going to get to know an amazing group of people. I mean, they must be pretty great if they raised an incredible man like him, right? I got lucky when I picked mine, because he came with an amazing family, and I’ve already come to love them. (His sister calls me her future sister-in-law, and I almost jump for joy every time.) But if you’re not as lucky as I am, keep trying. It will get better, and you’ll be a better person for the experience..