Superstar Taylor Swift and boyfriend Conor Kennedy hadn't been dating long when he took her to a family wedding in August, despite reported requests that she not go because some worried Swift's presence would take away from the bride's attention. That's a problem most of us don't have to worry about, but it does raise the question: When is it a good time to meet your new flame's family? And is it really ever a good idea to attend a big family event so early in a relationship?
Sometimes the timing can't be helped. You have been dating for a few weeks and his sister just happens to be getting married next week. Or it's his older brother's birthday bash and everyone will be there. On the one hand, it can feel flattering that your new partner seems to be so into you that they want to bring you to a big family party and meet the important people in their lives. On the other hand, you might be walking right into a judgment fest where, if you haven't established your own strong connection yet, your newly significant other might be too easily swayed away from you should his or her family suggest you aren't the right match. Instead of gaining favor, you run the risk of getting the seal of disapproval.
Think of it as building a good fire. Sometimes the top takes off right away, burning high. But if there isn't a hot, smoldering base, that fast fire can quickly fizzle out. Take the time to establish a foundation before opening yourself up to any possible criticism. If you are asked to that wedding or birthday celebration early on, you can politely decline -- but add that you would love to go to the next occasion. That will give you a chance to build a solid relationship. When you do meet the family, you are already an item and your new partner can better withstand any negative comments that might come your way.
Swift and Kennedy didn't choose this path, but jumped right in. She has met the family, attended big events and even visited the grave of Kennedy's recently deceased mother. Only time will tell if their foundation will be strong enough to sustain them.
— Relationship expert Dr. Jane Greer is creator of “Shrink Wrap” – national commentary on what we can learn from celebrity relationships – and host of “Let’s Talk Sex” at Healthylife.net. Her book, “What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship,” is available nationwide.
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