We dated the Zeros… so you don’t have to.


Awkward moments with your dude’s family


Over the years I’ve dated my fair share of guys. Many of them were wonderful people who just turned out not to be The One. Many of them turned out to be complete and total Zeros. When you spend several years (or decades) dating Zeros, you’re bound to collect an assortment of awkward or embarrassing stories (hence our book). But what about when the awkward moments come not from the guy you’re dating, but his family?

Dealing with embarrassing moments provided by your own family is one thing, but dealing with awkwardness provided by your guy’s family is something else entirely.  With your family, you are used to the dynamics in play, and when someone gets out of line or does something bizarre, you can call them on it. Sure, it is mortifying when a date or boyfriend witnesses your family’s ridiculousness, but at least you can tell your own family to knock it off. When it is his family, chances are you’ll just end up sitting politely, pretending nothing’s wrong while secretly wanting to run away screaming.

Such as the time I went to my post-college boyfriend’s mom’s house for dinner and was informed by his stepfather, rather proudly, that the meal we were about to eat was courtesy of a deer that had jumped out in front of his car a few days previously. At the time I was a vegetarian and thus saved the ‘to eat the road-kill or not to eat the road-kill’ conundrum, but it was still a fairly awkward moment. My boyfriend was not a fan of his stepfather, and felt no need to temper his feelings about coming home with his girlfriend to a dinner of road-kill, making the awkward moment even more excruciating. Then his mother got upset that my boyfriend was being rude to her new husband and started sobbing at the dinner table. Good times.

Is there a right way to handle such moments with a family who isn’t yours? A friend of mine told me a hideous story about going home with her boyfriend to meet his entire family, and her guy’s cousin blatantly hitting on her any time her guy left the room. What would Emily Post suggest in such situations? She tried to laugh it off and pretend the cousin was joking, but as the weekend progressed he become more and more overt. Should she tell her boyfriend? She felt that a huge scene would be even worse than the unwanted attention, but what if she told her guy and he didn’t do anything, or even worse, what if he didn’t believe her? She went with the path of least resistance and just made sure she that whenever the cousin was around she was with the boyfriend at all times.

Thank goodness my guy doesn’t have any male cousins. I’m very fortunate that my husband’s family is awesome (and no, I’m not just saying that because his mom reads this blog daily), but the fact that they’re awesome is not necessarily a get-out-of-awkward-free card. For example, when having brunch with my guy’s dad and stepmother at a very small restaurant in our neighborhood and the women who was sitting less than a foot away from his dad decided to breastfeed her newborn without any attempt to tent or cover her engorged boobs.  And here’s an embarrassment-bullet I recently dodged… though certainly no fan of having to return to work two days after Christmas, it did save me from the familial awkwardness my husband and sister-in-law endured of watching Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo with his mother and 93 year-old grandmother, complete with exposed nipple piercings and brutal rape scene. The fact that both his mom and grandmother had gone into the movie having read the books and knew what to expect did not mitigate I what I can only imagine was a new level of cringing horror felt by my guy and his sister. Like I said, my husband’s family is cool, but I don’t care how cool your grandmother is, you neither want to watch depictions of anal rape seated next to her, nor do you want to engage in a lively discussions of sadism with her on the ride home.

Yeah, that was one family bonding opportunity I was happy to miss out on.


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