Befriending your girlfriend’s mother can be challenging. In fact, it might be simpler teaching a toddler calculus with a little bit of quantum mechanics thrown in for good measure. Nevertheless, getting in the family matriarch’s good books is essential for long-term relationship success, so it pays to be prepared.
Like Bond infiltrating a Soviet chemical weapons facility, you too must evoke your inner secret agent. Patience, persistence and excellent manners: these are the qualities required of you while you suffuse yourself into their family dynamic – and you don’t want to make any missteps along the way. Read on for our essential etiquette guide to making an excellent first impression.
Bring a gift
Like any good guest, if you’re being introduced to your girlfriend’s mother in her own home, a gift is absolutely essential. Don’t over do it though. A good bottle of wine, some Charbonel et Walker chocolates, a bouquet of flowers, these are all suitable gift options for the first encounter. If you go too big, too soon you’ll be constantly attempting to out-do your last offering. Start small and remember, while first impressions count, the trick is to make a lasting impression with your personality – not your wallet.
Despite what we would all like to think, society really does judge a book by its cover and, just as you would with a job interview, dressing appropriately for meeting your partner’s mother is a must. Leave the skinny jeans, hoodies and overly loved trainers at home. What this situation calls for is a smart pair of chinos, freshly polished lace-ups and a timeless shirt (don’t forget to iron it please).
This one goes without saying. Chances are, on your first meeting, your partner’s mother will be observing everything you do and it’s the details that count. Small things such as opening the door for her, clearing up after dinner, not being on your phone at the table and making your bed if you stay over are all polite acts she’s noting. These are also, of course, all things that simply make you a gracious guest and shouldn’t be reserved solely for making good impressions alone. Make them forces of habit and you’ll be regarded as a gentleman without even trying.
Keep the conversation flowing
The art of conversation is something a true gentleman must master. You should know what to say, what not to say and be ready with a humorous story or witticism should conversation lag. Listening is also of fundamental importance. There is nothing ruder than a person who interrupts while others are speaking while a thoughtful back and forth demonstrates diplomacy and empathy; absolute kryptonite to mothers. Don’t forget to throw out a compliment everyone once in a while as well. You’ll be surprised how far a “You have a lovely home” or “That meal was delicious” will get you.
A fond farewell
Letter writing might be considered a dying art but there is nothing more wonderful than receiving a handwritten thank you letter. Not only does it show that you were willing to take the time to curate a complimentary letter, but it’s the height of good old-fashioned manners and will leave a positive lasting impression in her mind. Remember, all good things come to those who impress mother.
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