"So I'm meeting my girlfriend's whole family (including the cousins and the aunts and uncles and so on) and I'm nervous. I tend to freeze up in large group settings and the fact that I'm trying to make a good impression is making me stress out more. Any words of advice?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
HELLO ME FROM A FEW YEARS AGO. HOW ARE YOU?! I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN A WHILE.
Honestly, Nony (anonymous nickname), these were all of my exact feelings for most of my life. I had to literally talk myself out of about a million anxiety attacks. I spent countless evenings at shows or events or parties with my eyes on the floor, my back on the wall, and my heart racing. IT WAS THE WORST.
Nowadays, I can totally handle myself in groups because of a game I invented called, “Ask one million questions and never answer a question using only one word.” Basically, you come up with questions in your head that EVERYONE has an answer to (i.e. where are you from, what do you do, how do you know (mutual friend) and build a starter convo right there. When they ask you questions as well, don’t just give one word answers, actually keep the conversation going.
ALSO, ask them to elaborate on stuff it’ll lead to stories and families love to tell stories, PLUS it shows them you’re interested in what they are saying…
THIS IS ALL ANYONE CARES ABOUT, YOU GUYS. You’re afraid that everyone will be judging you for being silent OR thinking about how you were saying all the dumbest things. BUT REALLY, we are all thinking about ourselves. We all want to seem cool. You want your GFs fam to think you’re cool. Her cousins want you to think THEY’re cool, everyone’s aunts and uncles always want to seem cool. We are all obsessed with ourselves and our own cool factor.
Take a deep breath. They’re your gfs family, but they’re also just people. Breathe in, breathe out, practice questions in your head, stay engaged, and remember Aunt Marlene just wants you to think she’s cool.
Also, you guys… most families KNOW how anxiety-ridden a person can become when it is time to “meet the family.” You don’t only get one shot at making a good impression!
I think that Dannielle’s advice is spot-on, but I think the other key thing to remember here is that you aren’t going to only meet these people one time. I dated a girl awhile back who was extremely shy and quiet in group settings. It was hard because she was not shy or quiet in our relationship, and actually was hilarious… but when she would get around my family she would just look at the ground and say just a few words.
My family members were very nice to her, and at first understood that it was hard for her to make conversation. They asked HER questions and helped her become more comfortable. They weren’t immediately like “OH MY GOD SHE IS SO FUNNY AND AMAZING,” but they also didn’t just throw her to the wolves and call it a day. Over time, she was able to become much more comfortable, and started to open up and make jokes, and interact with them in bigger ways.
I don’t even date that girl anymore and she is STILL best friends with my family. POINT BEING: Don’t put all the pressure on yourself. Look at this as the first of many meetings, and remember that almost every person on the planet is nice enough to know that meeting a whole bunch of family for the first time can be a little scary.
You’ve got this.
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