Considering introducing your significant other to your family this holiday season? Pat yourself on the back for tackling this next step in your relationship, and don’t fret — here are a few tips to help you navigate this stressful and possibly awkward time.

Tell your family ahead of time

As excited as some of your relatives will be to meet your significant other, it’s always good to give your family a heads up! You can use this time to ask them to not pressure or crowd your new partner with questions about their relationship. Similarly, you can answer a few preliminary questions your family might have. The last thing you’d want is to walk in the day-of and have your family members be in total shock.

Explain family dynamics or traditions to your partner

Let’s say every Christmas your family goes on a morning walk, or every Thanksgiving your cousins chop firewood together. Let your significant other know ahead of time if they’re expected to participate! If you want to introduce this person as a potential new member of the family, you’ll want them to engage in family activities, so they feel welcomed and included.

Warn them about that aunt who will ask when you’re ready to have a baby.

You can also use this opportunity to warn them about that aunt who will ask when you’re ready to have a baby. Or maybe that uncle who’ll ramble about “When I was your age…”.

Give your significant other some breathing room

As stressful as this time is for you, try to recognize that your significant other is probably stressed as well! Communicate your expectations and needs to each other so you don’t feel smothered or abandoned. Your significant other might need to step outside and take a break from trying to impress your family, or extra hugs to get through it – you two can make a plan for if/when this happens. Wanting to meet the family is a sign that the relationship is moving forward – this is a chance to seek parental and relatives’ approval, which is significant for many couples. Your two worlds may have been separate until now, so the clash might be slightly uncomfortable at times, no matter how prepared you are. 

If nothing else, realize that meeting the family is an important milestone — be proud that your relationship has progressed this far! Written by: Angie Won