With family-oriented holidays just around the corner (and your grandparents asking you about who you’re dating), it’s a stressful time for collegiettes in serious relationships, especially those asking: “Is it time for my boyfriend to meet my parents yet?”
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to tell you what exact time you should bring him home. However, there are some questions you can ask yourself to figure out whether a meeting with the parents is timely for your specific relationship. Dating experts and HC readers have weighed in below, and we’ve condensed this nerve-wracking issue into four questions you have to consider before bringing your boyfriend home!
1. How long have you been dating?
Before taking the next step of bringing your boyfriend home, you should think about how timely it would be within the context of your relationship. Marni Battista, the founder of Dating with Dignity, says couples usually enter the “safe zone of introduction” somewhere between the three-month and six-month mark. However, you’ll have to use your own judgment to determine when the two of you are comfortable and ready. Battista warns that bringing a boyfriend home too early in the relationship can scare him off, so be reasonable with your timing. As excited as you may be to show off the man in your life, Battista says, “take care not to invite him on that family cruise on your one-week anniversary.”
However, if there is a special occasion coming up, it can be acceptable for your boyfriend and your parents to cross paths a little earlier. “I waited a month to meet my boyfriend's parents, but with good reason,” says J’na Jefferson, a senior at Rider University. “A month after we started dating was his birthday, so since we were finished with school, I spent his birthday weekend with him and his family. They were very warm and inviting!”
2. How serious is the relationship?
Bringing a guy home shows that you take a genuine interest in him and plan to have a lasting relationship. Because this is such a meaningful gesture, you want to make sure you and your guy are on the same page. “Be sure you're both serious about your relationship and committed to each other,” Battista says. If you see a future with your guy (one that has potential to go beyond graduation) and he’s also in it for the long haul, don’t be afraid to take that next step.
“I've been with my boyfriend for over three years now, but I met his parents (and he met mine) pretty early on because we were pretty serious from the start,” says Shira Kipnees, a senior at Franklin & Marshall College. So the more invested you are in the relationship, the more appropriate it is to introduce your special guy to your parents.
One challenge of having a serious relationship in college is that you visit home less frequently—usually only during major holidays if you attend a school far away. This means that if you do decide to bring your boyfriend home, the first meeting will be during a significant event (possibly with a larger gathering of family members). Because of the added pressure, Battista says, “you're probably going to want to be pretty comfortable with him.” If you aren’t quite at that stage in your relationship but still want your boyfriend to meet your parents, Battista suggests bringing him home during a lower-pressure time, such as spring break or a long weekend.
3. Have your parents asked about him (or has he asked about your parents)?
While you may feel completely responsible for making the call on when your guy should meet your parents, remember that your parents and your guy are probably contemplating it, too. If you’re unsure whether it’s too soon for an introduction, gauge the situation by using their reactions. Battista agrees that if either your boyfriend or your parents has expressed interest in meeting the other, then it’s probably time to arrange a meeting. It’s natural to be curious about important people in a loved one’s life, so mutual interest (or even interest from one party) is a great reason to pop the parent question.
Instead of stressing the next time your parents ask about this mystery guy, be happy that they are interested in getting to know someone who is so important to you. And if it is your boyfriend who is doing the asking, dating coach Evan Marc Katz says that “any guy who feels strongly enough about you to meet your family should be allowed to meet your family.”
4. What does your gut tell you?
As the relationship becomes more serious and you integrate your boyfriend into your home life, it’s just a matter of time before he crosses paths with your family members. When your boyfriend turns into a major part of your future, it’s time for Mom and Dad to meet the special guy who's taking up so much of your calendar space.
Asiana Smith, a senior at Le Moyne College, encourages collegiettes to follow their instincts. “I think you truly know when the time is right and should do it then,” she says. While Asiana said it was a little weird to meet her boyfriend’s parents in an informal way (it was an unplanned encounter while she was at his house), she warns collegiettes about pushing for a premature introduction. “I feel you should never force meeting the parents because that just make the whole ordeal more difficult and probably [increase] the pressure put on your [significant other],” she says.
Katz says, “The bigger deal you make about this, the bigger deal it becomes.” In other words, it’s better to go with the flow of things and follow your instincts. If you feel compelled to bring it up, then go for it. If not, there’s plenty of time later in the relationship for formal introductions.
When in doubt, have a talk with your boyfriend about where the relationship is going and how quickly things are progressing. There’s no point in stressing over that awkward first meeting if the two of you don’t see eye-to-eye about your future together. If the two of you are ready to take the next step, then welcome the occasion warmly, because meeting each other’s parents is a huge milestone for your relationship. It may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll be so relieved when first impressions are out of the way. Plus, being on good terms with each other’s families can make your relationship even stronger. By the time the actual meeting rolls around, you’ll be wondering why you were even worried in the first place!