It can be a really big moment in a new relationship when your partner says they want to introduce you to their parents, because they’re letting you into their true inner circle. However, with that excitement and feeling of acceptance often comes some major nerves. After all, there’s a lot of pressure to make a good first impression. This can be especially challenging if you’re shy or have a bit of the old social anxiety. In that case, having a few go-to icebreakers for meeting your partner’s family can keep the conversation flowing. They can also help when you inevitably encounter those awkward silences that happen when you’re first introduced to someone, but feel extra intense when meeting your partner’s parents.
Icebreakers are essentially just friendly open-ended questions that will engage your partner’s family and show that you’re also interested in getting to know them better. Plus, they have the bonus of helping you getting to know your partner a little bit better, too. With a good icebreaker, you can settle everyone’s nerves and get engaged in a real conversation, which is a great way to ingratiate your partner’s family and start building that bond with them. So, if you’re planning on meeting your partner’s family soon, here are some questions to keep in mind to help break that ice.
1. "What was [your partner’s name] like as a kid?"
If there’s one topic that’s both safe and likely to get the conversation going, it’s asking your partner’s parents about them when they were growing up. Maybe you’ll learn something sweet about them when they are a kid. Or even better, your partner’s family might offer up some funny and embarrassing stories to lighten the mood. Your partner may cringe a little, but hey, nothing makes everyone in the room feel more at ease than having a great laugh together.
2. "[Partner’s name] told me you really enjoy [things you have in common]. Me too! How did you first get into that?"
Do a little recon with your partner before you meet with their family and find out a few things you may have in common with each of them. That way when there’s a lull, you can immediately bring the conversation back to some common ground. You’ll all feel comfortable talking about the subject and you may even feel a bit more connected when you express a shared interest, experience, or passion.
3. "[Partner’s name] told me [a fact] about you. Is that true?"
Again, this question is going to require a bit of pregaming with your partner before the big meeting. Find out some interesting details about their family members — something unexpected or something they’re proud of — then ask them about it. There’s a good chance they’ll be excited to discuss it (since most folks do enjoy talking about themselves), but it shows that you’re interested in getting to know them, too.
4. “How did you two first meet?”
Who doesn’t enjoy a good love story? After all, you’re there because of your love connection, so it’s natural to wonder how the other family members met their significant others. Nostalgia is a great way to connect and get a little deeper with another person, so naturally this is a great topic to break the ice with.
5. “Do you enjoy traveling?”
Traveling is another great icebreaker topic, since it lends itself to a lot of stories, especially if you know in advance that this is something your partner’s family members enjoy. You can follow up with questions about their favorite places they’ve been and ask for suggestions of locales you should make sure to visit. They may even break out some vacation photos for you to ooh and ahh over.
Meeting the family is often a very nerve-wracking experience, but it can be a lot easier knowing you can avoid the lulls in conversation. The key is just to put your best foot forward, be present, and show genuine interest in getting to know them. Just that alone is a great way to make a good first impression. Take a deep breath, because you’ve got this.
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