How to Impress Your Girlfriend's Father

Three Parts:Making a Good First ImpressionActing AppropriatelyDeveloping the Relationship Further

You are never prepared enough to meet your girlfriend’s father. You may have loved the Steve Martin movie Father of the Bride, but you wouldn’t want your first interaction to be like that. However, if you take a little time to reflect and prepare, you can impress your girlfriend’s father when you meet him for the first time and continue to impress as your relationship with his daughter grows.

Part 1
Making a Good First Impression

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    Dress well. When your girlfriend’s father opens the door, the first thing he will notice is how you are dressed. You don’t want to turn up in a sloppy sweatshirt and torn jeans. Even if it is a casual event, you need to look presentable. Ensure that your clothes are clean and well-ironed. If you are wearing shoes, ensure they are polished.[1]
    • Avoid t-shirts with bold graphics of your favorite band or offensive slogans.
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    Greet him warmly. Part of making a good first impression involves your demeanor during the first greeting. You want your girlfriend’s father to feel like you are a warm person who is easy to get along with after he meets you for the first time. [2]
    • Remember to make eye contact with your girlfriend’s father and smile.
    • You should also include a more formal aspect of calling him by his last name (for example, Mr. Jones) until he tells you to call him by his first name.
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    Give a strong handshake. Most men appreciate a strong handshake. And your girlfriend’s father is probably hoping for a sign of strong character when he meets you so he knows you can take care of his daughter. That may seem like a lot to read into a simple handshake, but it is often the truth.
    • Take his hand firmly in yours and grip tightly – but not too tightly.
    • A limp or weak handshake will probably not make the best first impression.
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    Take a gift. Find out what your girlfriend’s father likes. The safest bet is to bring food or a drink, especially something that goes well with dinner. You can also opt to bring flowers, or a gift for your girlfriend's mother. Bringing a gift to your girlfriend's mother shows your girlfriend's father an example of how you might treat his daughter.

Part 2
Acting Appropriately

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    Control your nervousness. It is normal to be nervous, but you need to control it. It’s only when you feel great that you give out positive vibes. It is even good to appear nervous at first and then relax later. It makes her father know that you are taking this meeting seriously.
    • There are many ways to treat your nervousness. Consider some mild relaxation exercises, like yoga and deep breathing. You could also try meditation.
    • Some people feel better after a short mental distraction, like watching a comedy show on TV or listening to some soothing music.
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    Appear confident. Smile a lot and speak with confidence. Shake hands firmly with your girlfriend’s father. Prepare a few sentences about yourself and your career or aspirations. Avoid talking too much about yourself. Rather, ask questions about your girlfriend’s father and show interest in what he has achieved.[3]
    • For example, you could say, "I'm a software engineer at a small company, and ultimately I'm looking to move to a management role. I visit my parents down south every couple of weekends, and I also love to windsurf."
    • You could also say something like, "I'm not sure what I want to do exactly with my career, but I definitely want to do something creative in the New York theater world. Right now I'm working on a play with a friend that I'm hoping to get published soon."
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    Be engaged in conversations. People enjoy conversing with others who seem interested in what they have to say. Listen intently when others speak and add thoughtful comments to the conversation. Ask follow-up questions when they seem appropriate and avoid controversial topics when possible.[4]
    • Tell a funny anecdote about yourself so your girlfriend’s father feels like he’s getting to know you a little bit.
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    Turn off your phone. Checking your phone constantly is considered rude during most social engagements, or at the very least a sign of disinterest. If you want to impress her father, stay off your phone while you’re hanging out with the family.[5]
    • People from older generations can be especially critical of this kind of compulsive phone checking. So her father might interpret this behavior as very rude.
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    Be respectful. A lot of people try being humorous or witty. While these are amazing qualities to have, they can often backfire. However, being respectful does not have drawbacks. This does not mean you need to pay a lot of compliments. There are many ways to show respect. Avoid laid back postures. Mind your Ps and Qs.[6]
    • If your girlfriend's parents offer you food, make sure that you say "please," "thank you," or, if applicable, "no, thank you." Good manners are always impressive.
    • Use your manners and call your girlfriend's dad "Sir" or "Mister."
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    Keep the PDA to a minimum. Nothing will turn a father off more than seeing you fondling, kissing, and groping his daughter. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your arm around her occasionally or hold her hand – just keep the public displays of affection to a minimum around her father.
    • The only kiss you should give your girlfriend in front of her father is a quick hello or goodbye peck.

Part 3
Developing the Relationship Further

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    Follow up your meeting. After your first meeting, do not behave as if your girlfriend’s father does not exist. Follow up your meeting with a phone call. If you feel apprehensive about calling, you can send him a thank you card or gift for inviting you over and treating you well. You could find out what he likes and buy an appropriate gift.[7]
    • For instance, if he is fond of poker, you can get him a new deck of playing cards, or some poker-themed glasses.
    • You could also give him a nice bottle of bourbon or a nice cigar as a thank you.
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    Find out his interests. Learning about another person gives you more topics to talk about. You may even discover some common ground you didn’t know existed. Try to find out some things about your girlfriend’s dad so that you can initiate conversations in the future about these topics.
    • Or you can learn about his interests so that the two of you could do something together. For example, you could invite her dad to go golfing with you if you discover he enjoys golfing.
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    Open up to him. Part of being accepted by your girlfriend’s father depends on letting him feel like he is really getting to know you, and not just on a surface level. Be open with him about your opinions and beliefs. Tell him stories about your family. Help him get to know the real you.[8]
    • Make sure you choose appropriate stories that cast you in a good light, especially at first.
    • And be able to back up your opinions if you venture into a political discussion.

Article Info

Categories: Relationship Issues