M: After more than a year of postponement due to the pandemic, Bernardo is going to be home and will be meeting his girlfriend Samantha’s family for the first time. Any tips on how to make a good impression? Yes, bring gifts for everyone! Seriously, meeting the family of a significant other for the first time is always a cause for anxiety so best be prepared. Bernardo, I suggest you ask your girlfriend about her parents. What they are like, their love story, their likes, dislikes, in other words, all the things that are found in a slam book, including their definition of what love is. And maybe a definition or description of what a potential son-in-law should be like.
DJ: First, be compliant with health protocols. It’s the first meeting. It should be memorable in a good way. Second, it’s good to bring her parents something her dad or mom collects. He can ask Samantha. It speaks about his thoughtful and responsible qualities. What to wear? Just a tasteful version of him will do. Worst case, err on the conservative side. Now let’s move to the all-important getting to know him portion of the program. Being completely silent can be awkward. Talking too much can be annoying. Thus, let the family set the tone. Use sir or ma’am. Don’t assume and call them manong or manang.
M: I’m curious to know though if Bernardo has also personally met Samantha. There are many long-distance relationships these days where couples meet for the first time after many months of communicating through Zoom. So if Bernardo hasn’t met his girlfriend yet, best to meet first with her, then afterward meet her family. As to preparing for the meeting with the parents, Bernardo should cover the basics. Handshake—firm, and look the dad straight in the eye. Venue—if it’s in their house, know the layout, not so he can make a fast exit but so he knows the terrain and thus can be more confident.
DJ: I’m assuming he’s already met them remotely considering what technology does these days. It helps to do his homework to avoid surprises. Is her mom deaf in one ear for example? Are there topics to avoid? Find out early. Stay clear from jarring subjects, like the community pantries for example, or the West Philippine Sea. In case they bring these up, just listen to what they say. This is not the time for a debate. Are there any business or career interests that he can connect with? Observe. Is he curious about that trophy on display? Do any of the photos of her grandparents strike some resemblance with Samantha? They sound generic but they can help the conversation flow especially if she’s joining Mom in the kitchen and he’s left with Dad. Offer to lend a hand too. Be sincere but be respectful if the family declines. Now if things are going well, don’t put that foot on the table just yet or start playing games on the phone. No matter how comfortable they make him feel, he’s got to remember he’s being observed.
M: The best preparation is really to be himself, the guy who Samantha fell in love with. Do not pretend. Pretensions just make for bad expectations. Don’t expect that her family will immediately warm up to him unless his girlfriend has told them all glowing things about him and they are just so happy that she has finally found someone who will make her happy. Always be respectful, courteous and kind. He’s coming home to spend the holidays with his girlfriend and with her family. Enjoy and make wonderful memories so that when he goes back to the States, he’ll look forward to coming home.
DJ: Ultimately, Bernardo will have to gauge the vibe and go with it. Everyone’s family is different. Just remember to be polite without being fake. Her family might be the most important persons in her life but they are people too. Of course, it’s not a bad idea to put his best foot forward. But he still has to make sure that it’s his foot.