The percentage of 20 to 34 year olds in UK living with their parents has gone up from 21% in 1996 to 25% in 2016, with men more likely than women to be living with their parents (31% of men compared to 20% of women in this age group – Office for National Statistics)
This means that, when your date invites you back to his home, you have a one in three chances of bumping into his mum and dad. Put more dramatically, you have a one in three chance of walking into your potential in-laws.
Of course you’re not thinking about them as potential in-laws yet but, sooner or later, if not this boyfriend’s parents, another one’s will be.
This is a crucial fact to bear in mind because, not only first impressions count, but habits formed now will stick with you and will be difficult to change later.
One day your in-laws could become turn out to be formidable allied when, for example, your husband thinks of taking up cliff-diving as a hobby, or he wants to turn your family home into a mechanics’ workshop. You might be surprised at how many parents side with their child’s spouse in cases of disputes. I guess that’s because they know their child better. You need to be in good terms with your in-laws also because you need somebody to complain to when your husband doesn’t work out as you had expected. You might even be able to spur your in-laws to arrange a last ditch prenuptial cooking/cleaning/DIY training for their son if you threat returning him if unsatisfactory.
So you must work at winning their affection as soon as you step into their home.
First step: prepare yourself psychologically. Remind yourself the rule of ‘innocent until proven guilty’: as far as you know, they are delightful people who are looking forward to meeting you and think the world of good about you.
Second step: make it come true.
You objective is to make sure that your in-laws strongly feel:
- That you are better than any of their friends’ daughters (even if these play ten musical instruments, speak twenty languages, cook like Nigella and look like Angelina Jolie) that they’ve hoped to match their son to since he was a toddler.
- That you’re the best girl that’s ever walked into their son’s life
- That you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to their son
To this end, every time you meet them, you will engage in pleasant conversation with your potential in-laws by asking them about their health/their knitting club/food blog/model train, and you will listen attentively, with the occasional sound of approval, admiration or sympathy, as the matter requires.
Should they not be immediately within sight when you arrive to your date’s home, you will loudly ask for them saying something along the lines of: “I’d love to say hello to your delightful parents. May I please see them?”
Should you date ignore his parents’ whereabouts, you will hunt them down.
You will never ever enter or leave their home without saying hello and goodbye or, at least, be known to have gone to great lengths to do so.