I’ve been thinking about whether or not to invite my boyfriend over to my family’s Thanksgiving gathering. We’ve been dating for just over four months and I’ve been preoccupied with the thought of, if it will be overwhelming for him to meet a lot of my relatives at once? Do you have any ideas on how to broach this subject with him that can be easy, not stressful to decide?
Nervous Bird — Wailua
Aloha Nervous Bird,
First, take a deep breath, everything is going to work out. You raise an important question. When is the right time for your boyfriend to meet “the family?”
The right time is the moment the opportunity arises and mutually you feel comfortable taking that step; now or in the future. Don’t worry, if you decide that this isn’t the moment and if the relationship is right for you both, you’ll be together for next year’s celebration. Hopefully by then, he would have met some of your relatives, so you’ll both feel more comfortable in this emotionally rich and sometimes uncomfortable family holiday.
Let’s explore some ideas to help you both make your decision.
Do you really like him? Are you seeing each other exclusively and feel your connection has the trimmings of a long-term relationship? If yes is the answer for at least the first two questions, then I’d say discuss with him this juicy idea.
Is his family on island or not? Does he have a celebration to go to as well, if you decide not to go together? If he doesn’t and you decide this isn’t the time to experience the “eating fest” together, maybe you can share with him some of the leftovers and have your own special thanks-for-giving your hearts to each other meal, later that night or on Friday.
As you both are discussing whether or not to go, watch for his verbal and non-verbal cues. How excited is he to meet your family? Does he have any concerns from stories you have told him? Or for that matter, are you comfortable with him meeting your family?
Do your parents know about your relationship? How open are they to bringing someone new into this special family gathering? If they are more traditional, this may not be a good idea. Therefore talk with them as well and make sure they are OK with it.
Don’t press the issue with him or your parents. If you’re not getting strong signs of openness in both camps, don’t fret it; because on Friday, life will be back to normal, regardless how wild and crazy the holiday goes.
It’s better to move with caution. Christmas is coming; that maybe the moment where everyone might feel more comfortable and if not, as the Chicago Cubs fans say, “Wait till next year.”
If your parents are open about introducing him to the family, and he goes, it’s very important during the gathering that you make sure he feels comfortable and not left alone with Grandpa, getting a monologue about treating his granddaughter properly.
Discuss with your family beforehand that you are newly seeing each other and please hold off on an interrogation. Think about conversational lead-ins you can make about common interests your beau and different family members share; i.e., sports, music, movies, travel, hobbies, etc. By doing this, everyone will feel more relaxed. If he is good with kids, play with the young ones in the family where he tells them a few knock-knock jokes. The laughter produced will open everyone’s heart to him.
Have fun, even joke together after the event about any zaniness of your family’s behavior.
Here’s to juicy living,
Cary Valentine is the author of “In Love Forever — 7 Secrets to a Joyous, Juicy Relationship,” is a relationship expert and wedding officiant. He can be reached at Facebook.com/InLoveForeverCaryValentine and 346-6652.