- Deseret News - Monday, September 15, 2014

Worried how your parents will feel about your new boyfriend or girlfriend?

Don’t worry: not all is lost.

More than half of the U.S. population is single, according to a new report cited by Bloomberg. This has led to a shift in the dating culture in recent years, especially with the rise in technology as well as online dating, which accounts for more than one-third of new marriages, according to USA Today.

But once you start dating, how do you introduce your new significant other to your parents? What if religious affiliations conflict? What if general values and morals are different? There are, of course, dos and don’ts, but what kind of environment works best for introducing your parents to your significant other?

Here’s a look at good methods to introduce your parents to your new boyfriend or girlfriend, according to studies and experts.

Over a nice meal

A recent study found that food — whether it be comfort foods or anything else — can help bad moods disappear and calm people down. That’s why introducing your new significant other over a comforting, home-cooked meal may be a good move. If the parents don’t approve of the person, at least they can bury themselves in a tasty burrito or meatloaf.

At a sports event

A sporting event may be the right place, given that sports make us happier. Forbes reported that seeing athletes do well and succeed inspires confidence in people, lifting their spirits and elevating their moods.

A sports-related meet may include actually playing a team sport together. According to Men’s Health, playing team sports makes people happier. The compliments and words of encouragement from team members boost people’s moods and allow them to feel more comfortable with each other, Men’s Health reported.

Sports are one of the best ways to make friends, according to About Relationships. So if you’re worried about introducing someone to your parents, doing it over a baseball game or some flag football may give you a better chance of things working out.

Bring your significant other to your parents’ home

Home field advantage is a notion athletes know all about, and it may be a tactic to consider when introducing your significant other. Bringing your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your parents’ house may allow them to feel more comfortable and willing to talk openly with your significant other.

Plus, people are always trying to impress others in their own home. So if you bring your significant other to your parents’ house, your parents may be trying their hardest to win over your new boyfriend or girlfriend, rather than the other way around.

Meet over video chat

According to 2012 statistics, 31 million people are using Skype across the world. The online video-chat service may be the right way to connect parents and your significant other. Plenty of employers are using Skype for interviews, according to Bloomberg, so it wouldn’t be much different introducing your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your parents in this virtual way.

Tweet or like their posts

Social media is the ultimate way for your parents to give the person you’re dating a thumbs-up.

The way people meet each other these days has changed quite a bit, and a large part of that is because of social media, according to NewsOK. And, much like employers use Skype to do interviews, almost 40 percent of companies are looking up potential job candidates on social media to get a grasp on who they are, according to The Next Web.

With that said, introducing your parents and your significant other over social media might not be that bad of an idea. Have them start following each other on Twitter or get them to send each other a friend request on Facebook. This way they can do their homework and get feel for the type of people they’re about to get to know a bit more.

A day at the beach

Dinner is easy. Going out to the local coffee shop is simple. So maybe it’d be best to plan an experience, like a spiritual hike through the mountains or a day at the beach.

As Quartz reported in August, research “suggests that overall well-being can be advanced by providing an infrastructure that affords experiences — such as parks, trails, beaches — as much as it does material consumption.”

These types of experiences can make people happier than buying possessions. A lot of this is because the anticipation that builds before the experience can increase happiness even before the powerful payoff of the event itself, Quartz reported.

Wherever the parents want

According to Lovepanky, a dating and relationship advice website, the biggest part of meeting a significant other’s parents is making sure the new boyfriend or girlfriend has the right manners and presents him- or herself in an acceptable way.

“Be yourself, assert your personality and do not fake it,” Lovepanky reported. “Be careful though so your sweetie’s parents don’t take a dislike towards you in your very first encounter.”

So, with that in mind, the courteous thing to do might be to let the parents pick the spot. It is, after all, the chivalrous thing to do (a concept some say has died in recent years).

See a tearjerker movie

You want a positive reaction from the parents, right? Well, a 2012 study from The Ohio State University said tearjerker movies can actually make people happy. When people see a tragic movie, they tend to adjust their own circumstances so they don’t suffer the same fate as those in the movies they watch, according to the study.

“Tragic stories often focus on themes of eternal love, and this leads viewers to think about their loved ones and count their blessings,” said the study’s lead researcher, Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, in a press release.

So, sure, there may be some tears shed during the film. But the aftereffects of watching that kind of movie may have a big payoff, especially when trying to inspire the parents to give your new boyfriend or girlfriend the thumbs-up.

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