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Article by Nicholas Velotta

So you want to know if you’re making the right decision: to bring him home or to put it off. Fortunately, we live in a time that we can actually ask ourselves whether it’s time for our bf to meet the fam. It wasn’t too long ago that most gay couples knew the answer was almost always “no.”

Even still, we live in an era of blurred lines where “dating” can mean anything from casual bed-buddies to long-term lovers and the point where us needs to meet them lies in murky waters. For the sake of your holiday season sanity though, let’s try to break this down.

Your anxiety isn’t outta control

Anxiety is normal, but if just the thought of introducing your beau to your family triggers a panic attack, it may be a sign. Would they be oil and vinegar? Is there something about your boyfriend that your parents or siblings would find abhorrent? Or vice versa?

I hate to be a harbinger of bad news, but if it’s causing you that much psychic trauma to imagine introducing your partner to the family it may allude to a hang-up of your own. Does your bf have a B.S. work ethic? Are you too enmeshed with your parents? Those things really come out when you get a new pair (or pairs) of eyes analyzing your relationship.

The fam is cool with it

The last thing you want to do is send your partner into hostile territory. Make sure the ‘rents are cool with you bringing him home, and if they seem apprehensive reassure them about how great your bf is and answer any questions they have.

Your bf is cool with it

The second to last thing you want to do is pressure your boyfriend into meeting your parents. If he’s against it, it may be a signal that you’re trying to make things too serious for him (or that he’s never going to get serious enough for you). Approach it casually and tell him why you’d love him to meet your close family members and ask him if he feels good about it. Also, if it costs lots of dinero to get/stay wherever your family is, it may be nice to offer to help finance his ticket or offer to only stay a day or two.

He knows about your family and they know about him

There are two levels for this one.

Level One: all parties involved need to know each other exist. You can’t pull some rom-com stunt and bring your surprise boyfriend home. It’s better if your family is told well before the holiday that you are in fact dating someone. The same goes for your partner; he should know how much family you have and who you’re closest to, which leads us to the second level.

Level Two: all parties have a basic understanding of each other. Let your bf know about the dynamics that exist in your family. And let your family know some stuff about your man. This will help everyone avoid touchy topics, get everyone familiar with one another, and it will (hopefully) prevent any parental/sibling interrogations of your partner.

The circumstances are (relatively) normal

Timing is everything (or at least very important, in my opinion). It’s not fair to anyone if you bring your boyfriend home during a high-stress time. If there’s been a recent family tragedy (like a death or cancer diagnosis) or major transition (like an ongoing divorce), think twice about bringing the bf home. His presence may create too much tension amongst your relatives and his first impression of your family will probably be skewed. Use your best judgement here.

You’re in it for the long haul

ATTENTION SERIAL MONOGAMISTS: This is not the time to test out the guy you’ve been seeing for a couple weeks and think is The One. It can be oh so tempting to show off how in love you and your boyfriend are, but this scenario really loses its impact the more you do it. Family members will start recognizing your pattern and give your relationships less credence.

Even if you aren’t a repeat offender, it’s still important to treat your relationship with maturity. It can be embarrassing to bring your boyfriend home only to break up a few weeks later. So do yourself a favor and self-reflect before deciding to take the leap; make sure he really is The One…to take home at least.

He’s said he wants to meet your family

Does your bf tell you he wants to get to know your family (or even just a specific family member you keep referencing)? That’s a great sign that it’s time. If an ideal opportunity presents itself AND he’s excited to meet your fam, take the hint.

You understand the consequences

No matter how well you know your partner and your family, there’s always the chance they don’t hit it off right away. Firstly, it’s not the end of the world if the first impression is a little awkward—they often are—but, secondly, be prepared for what comes after mixing your two worlds, and be willing to put some effort into making your bf feel comfortable around everyone at future gatherings.

Remember, he will likely become a regular discussion piece in family conversations, and invitations for family get-togethers will now extend to him too. You’re taking your relationship into new territory so be ready for all the fun, annoyance, and emotion work that comes with growth.

Nicholas Velotta is a sex and relationship researcher and writer located out of the University of Washington in Seattle.

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