By: Talia Lakritz
Spending the holidays with your partner’s family for the first time can be an opportunity to get to know important people in their life, partake in new traditions, and grow even closer. It can also be stressful to feel like you’re being evaluated with every move. The holidays can be notoriously difficult times, even for the best of families.
INSIDER spoke to relationship experts to find out the best ways to make a good impression while still feeling like yourself. Here are eight tips for meeting your partner’s family over the holidays.
Make sure your partner has your back.
Before your visit, talk to your partner about how you can look out for each other during the holiday. Maybe you want them to sit next to you at meals, occasionally check in, or run interference if you get stuck in an unending conversation with a talkative relative.
“There are some people who believe that if I bring somebody along, they should be socially capable of taking care of themselves and I shouldn’t have to look after them, but that’s a mistake,” relationship expert Dr. Stan Tatkin, author of “We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love,” told INSIDER. “When the other person has a home-field advantage, it’s important that people talk about how they’re going to protect each other, particularly the person who doesn’t know anyone.”
Your partner might ask for backup from you, too.
“That’s the idea of being a couple,” said Tatkin. “They protect each other. They have each other’s backs, even with people that are familiar.”
Bring a gift.
Don’t show up empty-handed. Susan Winter, relationship expert and bestselling author of “Allowing Magnificence” and “The Cure for Heartache,” recommends bringing something tasteful and simple, such as a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers.
“Any kind of gift that’s thoughtful — food, wine, flowers — is very safe and much appreciated,” she said. “It’s a generous gesture that will buy you a lot of traction.”