'My boyfriend met my parents on our first date and now we're getting married.'

I was 18 so any dates I’d been on in the past were more of a ‘meet at the bus-stop’ affair. 

Clint was 24 at the time. He had manners (especially compared to 18-year-olds – I had a guy once beep out the front and my Dad was so peeved).

I didn’t expect him to come to the door, I thought he would text me when he was outside, but he came and knocked on the door – my sister answered and he introduced himself he then came inside an said ‘hello’ to both parents. I was so nervous and awkward. I said “Clint, this is my mum,” and he said “Hi, mum”. (Lame, I know.) It was a painstaking five minutes of small talk and then we left.

He was nice though. He kissed my mum on the cheek. Shook my dad’s hand. Asked them if I there was a time I needed to be home.

My parents have always had a good relationship with him since then – especially my dad because he had his fair share of ‘horn honkers’ between my sister and I. (My sister even had a boyfriend who would charge my mum for petrol money if he picked her up from the train station. Even though my mum would feed him dinner, he would charge her $10 for a lift.)

My dad, to this day, still says “Clint came to the door”.

We are getting married next Friday, I can’t believe it and we’ve been together for almost 10 years

This is the story of Nicolle. Without knowing it, her partner’s manners (and that awkward five-minute conversation and kiss on the cheek) might have formed the foundation to the success of their relationship.

According to brain behaviour specialist, Terri Bowman, meeting your partner’s parents early (in this case, on the first date) can help couples understand each other better before taking things further. It’s an opportunity to make an almost-sub-conscious decision about the relationship, before getting caught up in the emotions and messiness and passion of falling in love

It makes sense.

Mamamia confessions: Relationship deal-breakers. Post continues below video. 

Nerves aside, meeting the parents is a mine of juicy information on the person you’re dating. You can better understand their values and temperament by watching the way they interact with and introduce their family. For example:

Is their dad as awkward as your dad? Are the Dad Jokes and socks-with-sandals game on par?

Is this very-cute-individual’s mother still giving him money for the dentist? Is she supportive? Or monster-in-law material?


Most importantly, does he have a dog? And does he love the family dog UNCONDITIONALLY?

These aren’t just personal deductions. This is science. And it involves brain chemistry and human behaviour, as Bowman explains.

“Investing time early on to get to know the family can tell you a lot about the person you’re dating and how they’ll treat you,” she said. “We are 60 percent genetic and 40 percent conditioned which is why meeting the family could give you insight into the behavioural and character traits of family members.”

It’s best to do this meeting and analysis early, before the love hormones kick in. (Objectivity is a cornerstone of science, after all).

“When two people first get together their brains start emotionally mapping each other creating chemistry, connecting to similar feelings and sharing the same emotional reality, so they feel bonded and one the same page of emotions,” Bowman said. “The brain then gets flushed with a rush of oxytocin, a love drug that makes everything feel positive, new, special and exciting.”

Bowman calls this a perception of love, which flourishes in the first six months of a new relationship.

“This perception of love is similar to the feeling of going on holidays, because the sensors are so stimulated by the new experiences that a person’s judgment can be clouded, which is why it’s so important for couples to meet the family several times in those first few weeks,” she said. “Meeting the family can tell you if you are entering into either a positive or negative mindset of family conditioning.”

“Knowing this information can save you from wondering in the future why you are with the person you are with, because after the rush of oxytocin diminishes and you no longer have the “love Perception” reality sets in – leaving some people in disbelief, angry, regretful and feeling resentment,” Bowman added.

So in that first five minute conversation of small talk and niceties, you’re really looking for insights into temperament, outlook on life, extended family, values and beliefs…. (No pressure).

But most importantly, meeting the parents early gives you a chance to witness the connection between your partner and their family. It will help you understand your partner more deeply. And will give you an idea of what life might be like if you choose to become a part of it.

Plus, it means you can enter that lovey-dovey-oxytocin-phase slightly more assured. After all, he loves his dog and his dad has jokes.