Meeting the in-laws

In the stern words of Jack Byrnes: “Let me put it very simply. If your family’s circle does indeed join my family’s circle, they’ll form a chain. I can’t have a chink in my chain.”

After the release of comedy films Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, people from all walks of life could breathe a sigh of relief, because at least their father-in-law wasn’t as nightmare-ish as Jack and their grandchildren wouldn’t become little Fockers.

However, I am sure there were a few moments in those movies all people could relate to, and a few times people have thought they would become the unapproved ‘chink’ in the new family chain.

There’s always the awkward moment of using the future in-law’s bathroom for the first time, and of something going wrong, losing the family pet you were entrusted with, or being interrogated by aunties and cousins.

Not all in-laws are as frightening as the movies suggest, but meeting them can be a nerve-wracking experience for any new boyfriend or girlfriend.

Picture this: you walk into an unfamiliar house, hand in hand with your partner, and all eyes follow you as you cross the room.

Curiosity and uncertainty radiates from each person, as you shake their hands and are introduced to parents, cousins, friends and grandparents.

Names go in one ear and out the other, while you try to at least remember each person’s relation to your partner.

The first time I met potential in-laws, I remember questioning every detail about myself.

Was my hair nice enough? Am I dressed properly? What has already been said about me? Can I hold hands with my partner in front of them or is that weird?

Your brain can go into hyperdrive and you start to assume everyone hates you.

The Spanish Inquisition seems more appealing.

Going into these types of situations can make you over-analyse everything.

If they ask about your job, will it make you look underqualified or snootily overqualified, or will you gain respect for holding employment?

Will your chosen black clothing make you seem gothic and questionable, or give off a classy, timeless look?

Here’s the thing: your parents count as potential in-laws too, and they aren’t scary (mostly), so give the future in-laws a chance!

Meeting the in-laws used to be something you would do after a marriage proposal, but these days, families meet when a couple is simply dating, or are close friends.

Particularly with the role of social media in relationships, potential in-laws have more than likely already seen your face and that video of the pizza you smashed back in a minute one drunken night.

For some, meeting the family isn’t a big deal.

When you are in the dating game at a younger age, it’s more than likely you still live at home, so whenever your partner picks you up to go out, your parents or siblings will probably answer the door to them.

Depending on your family’s culture and your living circumstances, meeting the in-laws can either be a super intense, highly planned event, or a casual hello as you pick up the jumper you left at their house.

Back in the day of primary and secondary school boyfriends and girlfriends, most people didn’t have a driver’s license, and therefore relied on parents to do the carpooling.

You would meet the parents at school drop-off, down at the beach or before the movie starts at the cinema.

Despite the apprehension and unease surrounding meeting the in-laws, it isn’t always as scary as it can seem.

Just be yourself, be confident, be polite and don’t undersell yourself.

One tip?

Don’t wear that tight, low-cut number.

The in-laws’ dress preferences will probably not coincide with your partner’s favourites.