How to introduce your same-sex partner to your parents

By Emen8, updated 2 months ago in Sex and dating / Dating and relationships

Young gay couple have a happy conversation with older parents

You’ve found the guy you want to be with.

All those years of dating in a hook-up world and thinking you’d never meet a decent guy have finally paid off. You’ve moved from ‘just dating’ to ‘in a relationship’, and you’ve started sharing your lives, friendships, and a Netflix account — obviously getting serious.

There’s just one last hurdle. He hasn’t met your parents.

Whether your parents are your best friends, or you just have to tick the box — ideally, you want him to be welcomed as part of the family. But maybe you haven’t introduced your parents to a same-sex partner before, or you’re not sure how they’re going to react.

It’s a daunting proposition. But with good communication and a lot of love, you can make that first introduction the beginning of a fantastic new chapter for everyone.

1. Make sure this isn’t also your coming-out story

While it may seem like a great ‘two birds with one stone’ opportunity, introducing your boyfriend as a way of coming out to your parents might be overwhelming for everybody involved.

Coming out can be a complicated time for families, especially if your parents are conservative or come from a cultural background that doesn’t embrace your sexuality. It’s important to give your parents time and privacy to process it in their own way before you bring your significant other into the mix.

Senior Asian father gives advice to adult son in living room

2. Discuss it with your parents beforehand

Ask your parents how they’d feel about meeting your boyfriend well ahead of time. Tell them how important it is to you that your family and your partner get to know one another.

If they’re not as open to the idea as you were hoping, ask them to think about it and tell them you’d like to talk about it again in a couple of weeks. If they do eventually warm to the idea, chat through what might make them comfortable on the day.

3. Discuss it with your boyfriend beforehand as well

He needs to know what he’s in for! Even if your parents are generally supportive, it’s still a good idea to let him know what they’re like and what he should expect. If you’ve already discussed it with your parents, tell him their reaction so he can be prepared.

It’s also a good opportunity for you to see how he’s feeling about it and be able to support him if he’s nervous. Priming him with a few good topics of conversation can help him feel confident going in, even if everybody is excited to meet each other.

Happy gay couple holding hands talk on deck outside

4. Keep it short and casual

While it might be a big deal for everyone involved, marking the occasion with a fancy, hours-long dinner could be torture. Coffee, brunch, or lunch are usually safer options — enough time to get first impressions, but not enough time to run out of things to say.

If you live far away from your parents and you’re just visiting (or they are), try to make independent accommodation arrangements for you and your partner. Sharing a house on the day you first meet might be a little awkward!

5. Find a location that’s comfortable for everyone

An invitation to lunch at the family home might be your parents’ way of showing their hospitality, but it may not be the most comfortable place for your partner to meet them. Try to choose a place that’s neutral like a park or a café, so that nobody has the home-ground advantage. A relaxed, public place makes it easier to keep the occasion casual and removes any pressure around cooking a meal or overstaying your welcome.

Happy couple are sitting with a woman at a cafe

6. Keep the conversation light

Be prepared for some awkwardness and gaps in the conversation — you will probably need to play moderator some of the time. It can help to introduce your partner with a little starter to help break the ice: “Dad, this is Ben. I was just telling him about your slow cooker — he loves to cook too.” Try to find common ground between your parents and your partner and give them a nudge when necessary (e.g. cooking, gardening, fitness, sport, travel — so that everybody will have something to contribute).

It’s probably a good idea to avoid controversial topics. If you think your parents might feel awkward talking about things like money, religion, politics, sexuality, or gender, then prep your partner with the no-go areas. We know it might feel a bit strange holding back, but it’s just about getting the first meeting done without too much drama.

Be gentle, compassionate and supportive — let everyone make their own first impression on their own terms.

7. Don’t get drunk

You may find it tempting to have a drink to take the edge off a stressful situation.

If you’re going to do this, make sure you know when to stop. You’ll want to remember this as the day you introduced the most important people in your life to each other, not the day you had four wines before lunch, yelled at your parents and threw up in a café!

8. Give everyone some time before you debrief

If your parents have had trouble accepting your same-sex relationship, you might find that they need some time. Thank them for coming and tell them how much it means to you that they’ve met your significant other. Tell them you’d love to talk about it more once they’ve had time to process.

This goes for your partner, too! Acknowledge that it might have been a stressful occasion for him as well and reassure him with how you feel about him.

Frustrated black man sitting on sofa at home

9. Be prepared for the possibility that it might not go well

Families are complicated. If your parents have had trouble accepting your sexuality, they may not ever be completely comfortable with your same-sex partner — or they just may not be ready yet.

If the introduction doesn’t go well, make sure you’re getting the support you need, both from your partner and from the other important people in your life. Make time to talk about it and try to keep communication open with your parents. With time, hopefully they’ll realise that, even if it’s not who they imagined, the person you love can still be as much a part of the family as you are.