So, you’ve landed a table at the number one restaurant in town, that bouquet of Peruvian Lilies has just been delivered to her workplace and there’s a rare Sangiovese vintage that’s waiting in your kitchen. And if tonight’s Valentine’s plans prove a success, you may well be treated to a quick succession of dates in the near future. But what happens after that?
Eventually, as your relationship starts to develop, you’ll slowly be introduced to family and friends, and for men, few occasions will be as unnerving as meeting her dad, the number one man in her life. To get you started on perfecting your parental charm, here are ten pointers that are guaranteed to impress him…
1. Set the tone
The initial seconds of meeting her father will either put you on a good footing or have him instantly question your competence. So, start with the correct handshake (firm, but not tight) and make full eye contact. You only get one first impression, so make it count.
2. Reassess your wardrobe
That Balenciaga outfit may well turn heads on the streets of Soho, and the lumberjack facial fuzz will certainly go down a treat in Shoreditch, but will they do a sufficient job of winning over your potential in-laws? Ditch the trends and make sure you shave (or at least trim), groom and dress appropriately – a pair of slim chinos, a button-down shirt, a deconstructed blazer and some polished shoes may not make a statement, but they’ll definitely give you an understated hit of finesse.
3. Come bearing gifts
If you’re visiting her parents’ house, and if you really want to make an impression, then try not to dish out generic presents. Instead, get personal and find out what his favourite wine, whisky or dessert is (basically, anything that goes well with dinner is a good area to stick to) and buy accordingly. A gift with thought will make a bigger impact than, say, the customary Jo Malone candle.
4. Do your revision
Find out what he likes and dislikes, what sport he follows, what team he supports or other hobbies he may enjoy. Even if you don’t have an interest in his pastimes, with this knowledge in the bank, you’ll be able to sail smoothly through any conversation that arises, fill any awkward silences and hopefully start to paint an amicable picture of yourself.
5. Know your boundaries
No matter how long you’ve been with your other half, do not – under any circumstances – overstep the mark when it comes to what they think is best for their daughter. Once you’re married? Fine. Before then? Bite your lip and stay out of it. In the same vein, steer well away from other sensitive topics such as politics – after all, what will dampen the mood more than a tense exchange about the pros and cons of Brexit?
6. Go on the charm offensive
Charm will get you most places in life, so compliment his home, his choice of wine and, most importantly, his daughter.
7. But don't be a try-hard
Keep it genuine gents – there’s nothing less subtle or off-putting than contrived charm or an unsavoury remark.
8. Have a digital detox
Well, at least during gatherings. Browsing through your iPhone or Pixel is rude in any normal social situation, so why wouldn’t the same apply here? Ultimately, her father will be from the pre-smartphone era, so he’ll most likely see compulsive scrolling as both insolent and immature.
9. Learn to lie... sort of
Remember, that much like a job interview, you’re trying to show the very best version of yourself, so play to your strengths and learn to put a positive spin on certain truths. Want to talk about your trip to Guyana when you spent a year on narcotics and learned to live like a rainforest hermit? Why not try: “After several years in the city, I felt I needed to gain some perspective on life, so I took some time away to see how other cultures lived”.
10. Keep the PDA at bay
Finally, even if you’re lucky enough to be in the “we just can’t keep our hands off each other” stage, try to curb your primal urges. No one likes to see explicit osculation at the dining room table – least of all the man that raised your girlfriend.
Not at this stage yet? Here’s our advice on when to call after your first date