We women love our families. Even when we hate them, we love them. We love having them. And we spend a lot of our lives looking forward to the day when we can bring Him home. That One. The One that many of our relatives may never even like, but we want them to meet him anyway.
Why? Well, we all have different reasons, but the most common one is, when we bring him home to the family it’s our way of saying, “Look! I’ve succeeded! I’ve found a man that wants to meet you too!”
And our family loves us back, and they want us to be happy, and for many of us, they have been asking every Christmas when this milestone is going to happen. We want to give them an answer! So we’ve finally been dating someone long enough to wonder….is now the time?
When it comes to navigating dating advice and families my advice sounds along the lines of, “later than sooner is better.”
In other words, don’t bring him home after date #1 just to show him off. Don’t even think about it on date #1. Okay, think about it. But think about it in terms of, “Maybe I could bring THIS one home. Maybe. One day. I don’t know yet.”
Or, “Hell to the no. You will never meet my family, friend. In fact, not only are you never coming home with me, but I’m going home by myself right now.”
I can’t tell you not to think about this, because as women, we think about this. And if you have children, you especially need to be thinking about this. But don’t rush this step. And the reason I say this is because…you can’t take it back. Once you take this step, it is taken. If it goes badly, that is not a bell you can unring. You just can’t change it if you one day realize after the fact that it was too soon. So the best relationship advice for women that I can offer is, the more you wait, the better off the outcome, unless you want him in the No Contact Zone for good.
But you want an answer to this question of….when? I get that. Here are some guidelines in DO’s and DON’TS format for you to consider as my answer.
1. DO: After you become exclusive. This is a good milestone to reach when all else fails and you are wondering when. This sets the tone for both of you. You both have made the decision to make a commitment, and it is all good from here, right? Makes a perfectly sound timeline for you to take this next step, and this is not a step that, after this milestone will make him question or feel pressured. This is a good rule of thumb for those of you that already have kids. We need to keep the little ones in mind, and most importantly remember that, their little hearts matter too. The last thing you want to happen is to have THEM fall in love with him too, but have to say goodbye because you never made it a real thing. It’s nobody’s fault, you just want everybody to be happy, but this heartbreak can be avoided if you just wait. If he’s worth it, that time will come, and the wait will be worth it as well.
2. DON’T: During the holidays, for the first time. The exception to this is if you have been together for a while, between six months to one year, and you are traveling over the holidays together and this is the only time you will get to meet the families. I do recommend that you both watch “Four Christmases” together first, and then regroup and discuss all of your contingency plans and escape code words if you both still think this is the best decision.
3. DO: When you are engaged. Again, in this day and age and long distance relationships, and family living all over the country, this is a tough one. I’ve known people who never met their brother’s girlfriend until the wedding. This makes for an awkward wedding. If you get engaged and he hasn’t met the family, take a road trip to meet your important people! Hop on a plane together and have that dinner! Don’t put off this milestone. I get that sometimes you do have to wait, life is just like that sometimes. But if you can swing it, this is the one relationship step that should NOT be put off when a ring is on your finger. You really don’t need me to tell you that. But some of you do, so…I’m saying it. You’ve earned it, shake it for mama and show him off girl! It’s time.
4. DON’T: If you think your family won’t like him. By that I mean, if you KNOW your family won’t like him. And you know what I mean when I say that. What’s the point? Why put him through that stress and hell if you already know the outcome? If you know you will love him anyway no matter what they will think, why go through this stress until…that next holiday when you are forced to do so? Put this one off if and when and for however long that you can. It’s been 20 years and my brothers still rib me about the guy who didn’t like hockey. The guy that they never saw again. I knew that reaction going in, and I’m STILL fielding/ignoring the “remember that guy who didn’t like hockey” questions. Just trying to spare you the same pain, ladies.
5. DON’T: If you think your family WILL like him, too much, or maybe even more than you do. Hey, you don’t want to hurt them any more than you want to hurt him. If there’s a chance he isn’t The One that will be making them pancakes every Christmas morning, don’t do it. If he’s SO great, but you just aren’t feeling it the way they might be, why put ALL of you through that? Doing this too early with a guy that you aren’t completely into will lead to the next 50 Christmases where you will hear the annual question, “When will we get to see the guy who made us pancakes again?” to which you will have to say, “Mom, you really need to get over him and let it go.” Who wants that? If he’s too great, hold off until it’s a real deal sure thing, your family has the whole rest of your lives together to eat his pancakes. Enjoy him to yourself a little bit, you’ve earned it.
6. DON’T: If your gut is telling you no. There’s a reason for that. I don’t even need to expand on that one, you know what I’m talking about. If you are rushing this step because you think it will fix something that is already broken, you are now bringing your family into something that…is already broken. If you just have a funny feeling about it, then it’s probably not go time for this milestone.
7. DO: If your gut is telling you yes. Your instinct will give you the green light when it is time. Pay attention!
Ladies, there are about 20 thousand more DO’s and DON’Ts with this question, but that’s just because dating is just not as conventional or black and white as it used to be. If you have a specific situation that does not fall into this relationship advice list, drop me a question and I’ll help you figure it out. Until then, the most important ones on this list are the last two. Follow your instinct. If it feels rushed, or it feels like it’s been too long and you really should hit this benchmark together, then DO, or DON’T. Only you know the answer. Follow your heart, but always, always, always…..take your head with you. Good luck!