Dating After 50: When to Introduce the Family
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Before considering the introduction of your friends and family and your date’s friends and family at length, start with the most important directive: Do this at the right time or the consequences can be messy. The “right time” is different for every couple, but the following cues give you an idea of when you and your date may be ready for this next step:
When you feel that your relationship is secure enough that a bad reaction by someone wouldn’t doom it: You need to have had enough experience together so that if a parent or sibling doubts that you’re the right partner, your date knows the grounds on which he would defend his choice.
If it’s too early in the relationship, he may not really know why the relationship is a good one or why you’re a good person. You need enough time together so your date is sure of his choice and won’t readily buckle under to another opinion. This goes for you as well when it comes to your family and friends.
When you’ve been dating long enough to plan these introductions together: Meeting friends and family is consequential, and it shouldn’t be a test that only one of you studies for. Unless you and your date want to plan these introductions together (for example, knowing what topics to avoid with which person), it’s too early to meet the family.
When you have enough intimacy to discuss who would be a good introduction, who wouldn’t be, and how to plan the order of who gets to meet who: There are always people to avoid early on in the relationship. Maybe it’s an uncouth relative who will offend your date or incessantly praise your departed spouse because she can’t handle the idea of someone else in your life.
Your relationship should be mature enough to explain why you should skip a specific introduction, and the two of you should have enough trust that your date supports your reasoning.
When you have a good idea what it means, and doesn’t mean, to be meeting friends or family: Understanding the meaning of any given act is critical. Some meetings show your parents or children that this is a serious relationship and that it may even be a committed one; other meetings are of a far less determined and perhaps more casual nature.
It’s so important to know which is which that you might ask your partner, “What does this get-together mean to you?” or “Are your children used to meeting your date?” or “Will this meeting be some kind of signal to your son or will he just be happy that you’re dating?”
You want to have as much of a framework as possible so that you gain some perspective on how to act or how to interpret the reactions of the people you meet. It’s important, for example, to know whether his best friend will be scrutinizing you because he has never introduced anyone else.