How to Impress your Girlfriend’s Parents

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An overwhelming majority of the counselling requests I receive deal with parents not allowing their children to get married to the guy/girl of their choice.

Picture this. Your daughter is approaching marriageable age. You’ve been thinking of starting to look for a suitable partner for her. She suddenly announces, “Hi mom/dad, meet my boyfriend X. We’ve known each other for three years and we feel we’re made for each other. I’m completely convinced he’s the one for me. You might get a bit worked up over his caste though. Think it over. We’re not in a hurry. We’ll get married only with your blessings.”

Your daughter’s “marriageable age bracket” has already started shrinking. You have to come to a decision fast. Generations of conditioning makes you feel anxious about giving your daughter up to a guy you haven’t chosen yourself. Add to that the beliefs you hold about the likely dangerous consequences of inter-caste marriages. Tell me honestly – do you feel gung-ho about your daughter’s marriage to such a stranger? We all know the answer.

Impress girlfriend's parentsPhoto by mytkada

Hence, the key to creating an environment more conducive to parental cooperation is not being a stranger. How do you do that? By building a rapport with your girlfriend’s parents over time. Always remember:

A rapport cannot be built in a day.

Here are some tips to cultivate a relationship with your girlfriend’s parents which would make to easier to get a “Yes” out of them when it comes to your marriage.  

  1. Get introduced as a friend first: Start visiting her at her home as a friend. If that’s not possible, start as a part of a group of friends. The idea is to allow her parents to get to know you in a relaxed environment (without the pressures of a possibility of marriage).  Continue this throughout the period of your courtship, such that it gives them ample time to know you and trust you. (I hope you’re not planning to get married before knowing each other at least for three years.)
  2. Spend time with them: If possible include them in your chat with your girlfriend from time to time (of course all the while appearing to be “friends” with her :D). Watch a movie together (of course the kind you can all appreciate ;)). No matter what they might show, parents always like to be included in children’s lives. If you come across as the type of friend who values elders and likes to spend time with them too, you’d have earned a lot of extra brownie points. That will make it easier for them to visualize you as a possible son-in-law later.
  3. Drop inhibitions: Stop thinking of them as “my girlfriend’s parents” when you interact with them. Think of them as a friend’s parents instead. Drop inhibitions, relax and be yourself. If you try too hard to impress them you’ll feel strained, under constant judgement (when you’re not) and will be unable to sustain the show for a long time. Do not approach the whole thing with the objective of impressing them but with that of familiarizing with them.
  4. What to talk: Whenever you’re having a chat with them, steer the conversation to a topic on which they’ve got a lot to say but you have very little. Like her mom’s childhood, her dad’s work, vintage movies etc. This will serve two purposes. First of all, good listeners are hard to come by and everyone loves them. The more you come across as one, the better for you. Secondly, you can’t afford any bad blood between you and them, and there are always chances of disagreement and tempers if you discuss something of mutual interest.  You can avoid that by letting them speak about topics which you’re neutral on.  

What are your stories of interactions with your girlfriend’s parents? Let me know by leaving a comment. 

17 thoughts on “How to Impress your Girlfriend’s Parents”

  1. All are amazing point to Impress Girlfriend’s Parents specially “Get introduced as a friend first” I will must follow all these steps to Impress her Parents but I think some more valuable points can more help to Impress lovers Parents.
    1. Arrive on time:- Most of Parents dislike their daughter’s boy friend & whey became more angry while boy friend Arrive late so must Arrive on time.
    2. Treat your girl friend well in form of her Parents can make a good shape of your & loves Parents.
    3. Being confident while meeting with loves Parents. I know this is really tuff task to be Being confident front of loves Parents.
    & some where I read that “Don’t look back” Once you exit the door it is imperative not to look back – because you know darn well that her parents are watching until you are out of sight.

  2. I think d 4th point…let them talk n “B A GOOD LISTENER”… dats wats going to win it/can win it & tilt everything in d boyfriend’s favour… seriously i mean, i believe 4th point iz d impactful point…

    1. You have to replicate the strategies over calls, but there’s really no perfect replacement for developing the relationship over time, in face-to-face meetings, in a relaxed environment. If you and your girlfriend are both from the same city where your parents still live, you can visit the would-be in-laws on your home visits. That’s the best you can do.

  3. In India, love marriage is still difficult. On the other hand, in the US the divorce rate is close to 60%. What do you think about this irony?

    1. Thanks for bringing up this very interesting debate, Alan. :)
      Well, to start with, the low divorce rates in India result from the huge social taboo that’s placed on divorces (It’s really difficult to support the popular belief that it is because of greater compatibility fostered by the arranged marriage culture). In many cases, couples stay together not because they love each other but because they believe they “should”. This is sometimes coupled with structural factors. Many Indian women stay back in their failed marriages because they don’t have the wherewithal to support themselves financially. I’m by no means saying this doesn’t happen in other countries. But the higher divorce rate in certain countries seems to suggest that such beliefs and such social structures are at least less common there.
      Secondly, the centrality of individualism to the US culture also contribute to their high divorce rates. Indians are taught from childhood (at least most are :D) that life is all about compromise. That one has to compromise if one wants to be happy. On the contrary, in certain other cultures – like the US for example – individual freedom is considered a greater virtue.
      As we know, a successful marriage always, always involves voluntary (NOT forced) compromises from both sides (it cannot be a happy/sustainable marriage if it’s one-sided.) The extent to which an individual is ready to compromise is entirely their prerogative. This degree, I feel, is very different for the average American from that for the average Indian.

  4. you meet them as a friend, being such a nice guy, so gentle too. Now, when you announce you like their daughter, what they think is, “This guy was pretending to be nice because he has other intentions in his mind, such a cheater”. Boom!! your hard work takes you to be called as cheater later…

    1. Thansk a lot Saurabh for bringing out such an important altrnative perspective.
      In such situation their daughter needs to sit them down, keep them calm and explain to them that no one has cheated them. Her boyfriend (say Rahul) was indeed a friend to start with. WHen he visited her parents as a friend he was indeed telling the truth. But deep friendship can turn into love, and in fact that’s the most stable kind of love. That’s what has happened.
      Does that help?

  5. hi me nd my love r in love 4r 5yrs.v r of different caste a wide gap.we were away 4m home in college days nd i couldnt get him interacted wit my parents nd grandparents who is in far off vilage.i am 25 nd my parents wanted me 2 get married when i told them about my love.they denied nd wants me2 marry my caste boy. i have a sister 16yrs.they fear reputation ll be lost and no boy in my caste ll come 2 marry my sister nd no relatives ll include us in any good or bad ceremonies.i love them nd my boy so much. i am very much depressed,my grandparents r very upset too they family tell me of group suicide my ma also called to my man nd blackmailed him if anything happens to anyone he ll be held responsible….. eveything in chaos,,,,, i dontknow how to manage this situation,,,,i knowits difficult for them 2 accept a complete stranger but they couldnt even consider my wish……i wish i could give them some solution 4r my sisters life and facing relatives but i couldnt think of anything…….very depressed plzzzzzzzzzzzzz help me somehow

    1. hi vidhya what has happened to you… I am exactly in same situation as hers… can someone help me in this situation…. I don’t know have reply about social ostracism and my sisters marriage when my parents asks…

  6. Hi,
    I need your help in convincing my girl’s Mother.
    I came to know about this(Pavvi) girl(same cast) through matrimonial site in Oct-12, and I contacted her & said I’m interested in you. After somedays her parents asked me to visit them.
    In Feb-13, I visited their native and I told them that I’m interested in your daughter and you can talk to my parents. Mean while this girl was constantly in touch with me over the Phone and we both shared our thoughts on our likes/dislikes, interests, hobbies, etc… And later one day she proposed me and said she is willing to marry me..!! That time I was on top of the heaven, the most happiest person in the world..!! Some more days were gone talking each other over the phone..
    My girl has one elder sister(is a widow) she stays with her Mother only.
    After 1 month I asked my girl again about her Mother’s opinion and I came to know that
    our Kundli did not match and her Mother don’t want to proceed further. Now both her Mother and her elder sister are against this proposal.
    Then one day I met her personaly and asked her opinion, she said she still loves me and willing to marry me only if her Mum agrees.
    So to convince her Mother I went to her native but i could’t meet them. Few days later I called her Mother on phone and explained everything about our Love relationship
    and asked them to support us. But that went in vain. Then I met her girl’s aunt and told everything. Her aunt is really good at heart, she welcomed me and said, she’ll try her best to convince her Sister in this regard. I don’t know what to do next?
    I’m planning to meet her mother once again during this weekend and will try to convince her…
    One thing I would like to tell you, after she proposed me, oneday we both went to her home-GOD temple. Their we both prayed infront off the Idol sitting together. Its a custom that after praying if a Flower from right side of the idol falls down then God is Okay with our WISH. You believe it or not, that day, flower from right side of the idol fell down. And she was very much happy and that day she promised me that she will marry me only, and said she won’t leave my hand in any situation whatsoever it may be.

    Please suggest me how can i convince her Mother in best possible way.

    Millions of thanks,

  7. Well totaly agree wid al points.
    But in my case u was intially introduced to my gfs parents as a friend only. But now they kind of have a doubt about r relationship so they have made her stop talking to me(i mean at least in front of them) so how do i convince them now any ideas

  8. my girlfriend’s mother is really narrow minded person .she cant agree with our relationship .we really love with each other. her mother doesn’t like me & my caste please give me some steps to impress her

  9. my girlfriends mother know me & she don’t like me a little bit. she told her daughter to be away from me & keeping her in check all the time; it’s very difficult for me to let her go.
    so, how can i manage my girlfriends mother to like me or accept our relationship?

  10. Please please help me i don’t know what to say in front of my girlfrend’s parents… we love each other a lot n i want to tell this in front of my gf parents but i don’t know how to say that…. n i also want to say this to my parents.. but i didn’t know what to say n how to say… soo please please help me….

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