The first time a guy introduces a girlfriend to his family is pretty nerve-racking at the best of times. But when the girl is significantly older girlfriend, the stress and anxiety levels experienced often go through the roof.
Many parents are immediately suspicious about a so-called cougar leading their “little boy” astray — leading to tension and potential confrontation from day one. But it really doesn’t have to be this way. As long as the older woman is respectful and empathetic about the situation, there are some relatively simple ways to approach the issue of disapproving relatives.
Be absolutely sure that the hassle is worth it
Before you even think about introducing your older girlfriend to your close family, you need to be sure that the hassle and stress is worth it. If you’re only in this relationship for a bit of fun, what’s the point in causing your relatives stress and concern.
If you’re genuinely affectionate with your older woman, your relatives will pick up on this — and they’ll be far more likely to accept the situation. However, if you don’t seem particularly loving and affectionate, they’ll probably have trouble accepting the relationship.
Talk with your family first
That last thing you should do is turn up to your parents’ home with your older girlfriend on your arm. The shock will be difficult to hide, which will get the new relationship with your girlfriend off to a terrible start. Instead, you need to prepare your loved ones for what’s about to happen.
Choose a moment when people are generally in a good mood to break the news about your older girlfriend. Give them some background information about her, and talk about how you met. End the initial conversation by explaining why you’re in a relationship with her.
Prepare for a barrage of questions
If your girlfriend is particularly older than you, your parents and close family members may struggle to hide their disapproval. Those closest to you probably had a very clear picture of what direction your life would take, and the chances are that life involved settling down with someone nearer your own age. In order to address your family’s concerns, you’ll probably need to answer a barrage of questions.
Try not to be too defensive — although there’s nothing wrong with defending the honour of your girlfriend. Answer questions as objectively as you can, and remain calm throughout the entire conversation. Your relatives will most likely want to know more about your older girlfriend, so answer their questions fully. However, you shouldn’t share any information about her that she probably wouldn’t share herself during a first meeting.
Prepare your girlfriend
Once you’ve spoken with your family, you’ll have a reasonable idea of their attitude towards your girlfriend. Whether your relatives reacted with pleasure or disdain, you’ll need to prepare your girlfriend for the greeting and reception she’s about to receive.
Start by explaining the dynamics within your family. Who is receptive and open-minded about your relationship, and who is sceptical? Who, if anyone, might be willing to get others to accept the relationship? Should your girlfriend be particularly wary of anyone?
You can help your girlfriend make the initial meeting a success by highlighting any shared interests she might have with members of your family. This is a great way to get conversations going and to avoid painful silences.
Just before the first meeting, brief your girlfriend on any house rules there might be in your family’s home. If she’s staying overnight, will she be expected to sleep in a different bed? What are the meal times? Is there a curfew? Make sure your girlfriend is aware of all the house rules to avoid embarrassing confrontations.
Regardless of how open your family is to your relationship, your girlfriend is likely to be very nervous about meeting the family. As an older woman, she’ll be very aware of the concerns and prejudices she’s about to face — so providing emotional support is very important.
While you should never take sides, it’s worth bearing in mind that your girlfriend is your significant other. Yes, the views of your family should be heard, but they should never belittle, embarrass or demean your girlfriend. If you feel that your girlfriend is being attacked, you should be ready to defend her in a respectful, non-confrontational way.
You can demonstrate how much your older lady means to you by making an effort to praise her publicly. Talk about specific moments you’ve shared together, and how they made you both happy. If your family can see how much you mean to one another, they’re far more likely to accept the relationship.
At the end of the day, the only opinion of your older girlfriend that matters is your own — regardless of how much older she is. If you care for and respect her, the chances are your family will do the same.