Every year around this time, many divorcees find themselves in new relationships and meeting their significant other’s family for the first time. This can be an extremely stressful event, especially when your SO is the only person there with whom you’ll be familiar. As an online divorce site, we get questions like these all the time: What if they don’t like me? What can I do to make a good impression?
And every year, the advice pretty much shakes out like this: don’t try to impress anyone. Instead be yourself.
Now, on the surface that may seem like very generic advice, but let’s break it down a bit further to show how you can be yourself in awkward social situations like these.
Remember this one rule above all else: listen more than you speak.
That doesn’t mean that you have to keep your mouth shut, but it does mean that you should not be stepping out of your comfort zone with the interactions that you have with other individuals. People love to talk about themselves, and if you let them take the lead, then there will be moments where you can interject your personality in a natural flow. This also does something else that will really help you down the road.
It allows you to ‘win them over’ at your pace.
At the very worst, they will end up thinking that you’re “quiet but nice.” This not only enables you to “survive” the first impression, but it also shifts the focus of future get-togethers. Instead of “trying to get a read on you,” the family will start looking at their loved one — your SO — for “clues.” It will in essence become more about how happy you make your SO, and less about whether you fit in.
You’re certainly right to take these meetings seriously, but don’t let it handcuff your responses. Just focus on listening and let others lead the conversation. Before you know it, you’ll be on to those second and third and fourth family get-togethers, and it will become much easier to get their approval.[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]