Friday, June 4, 2010

Sharing and Caring: Meeting Friends and Parents

If you’ve been dating for more than a month and you haven’t met and spent time with any of her friends, she’s not that into you. You say “But we’re sleeping together!“ Is she recently divorced/separated? Does it seem like you are her masturbatory toy more than a sexual partner? She is not incorporating you into her life. She may even be ashamed of you and not think you are really good enough for her. She likes you well enough, but don’t expect this to get serious, and don’t expect it to last past her meeting someone who is a better fit.

The same goes if you have been dating for a couple of months but have never spent any of the holidays together (including your or her birthday). If that’s okay with you, no need to end it, but if it isn’t okay, have some self-respect and break it off.

But maybe the time has come and she is going to meet your parents or your friends. Meeting your really good friends can and should happen fairly early. Once you think you might want to be exclusive at some point in the future (or even before that), it’s best to start incorporating her into your regular life. See what your friends think of her. And what she thinks of your friends.

When she does meet your friends, or family, remember that she is new to your world and will not understand the in-jokes or know what you are referring to when you talk about your chemistry experiment that went so very awry at Cal Tech. When these references, incidents or code words come up in conversation, explain them to her. She shouldn’t constantly have to interrupt and ask questions in order to be able to follow the conversation.

Meeting the parents can wait until you’re exclusive. First, you don’t want your parents calling you every weekend asking how Joan is and if it’s serious. (And you know your mom will do this.) Second, meeting the parents has certain cultural meanings attached to it. Like “We’re exclusive,“ like “We’re serious and you better get used to her being in my life.”

If you are meeting her parents for the first time and are going over to their house, do not bring alcohol as a host(ess) gift without checking with your girlfriend first. While people of our generation are still deep in our alcoholism, people of their generation have figured out they have a problem and stopped drinking. You want to know for sure before you introduce liquor into someone’s house if it’s acceptable. And if you bring flowers, bring them in a vase. A host(ess) doesn’t need another task to do (cut the stems, hunt down a vase, pour water in, etc.). Other than that, take the lessons you have learned from the chapter on conversation and put them to work.

After a first meeting of the friends or parents (hers or yours), be prepared to talk about it with her. First impressions are endlessly fascinating to women, and fresh observations about people she’s grown used to can be enlightening to her. Not having any observations to share translates to her as “I don’t care enough about the people you hold dear in your life to have an opinion about them.” You can be honest, but don’t say anything you wouldn’t want the person you’re talking about to overhear. Because she may just tell them. And you don’t know everything about the person and you’ll come off as a jackass if you only say negative things about the person. She will want to talk about your friends, too--who’s dating whom, why they seem to make a good couple or not, why so and so engaged in some weird behavior, etc.

Up on Tuesday: Gift-Giving

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