By Lori Zaslow and Jennifer Zucher for Project Soulmate with contributing writers Elizabeth Hamilton and Alexandra Ciuffo

We’ve all been there: you’re dating the man or woman of your dreams and then all of a sudden they suggest meeting their parents. *gasp* This can either go really well or be something of a disaster. When a loved one’s parents don’t like you dating their son or daughter, well, it can bring a lot of stressful elements into your relationship. Here is some relationship advice from VIP Matchmakers from Project Soulmate on getting through tough times with your “in-laws” – and how you can come out from it even stronger than before!

Relationship Advice That Will Help You Deal With Difficult Parents

1. Take A Second To Think: Before even talking to your significant other’s parents, take a second to decide how you feel. If you’ve met their parents, chances are things are pretty serious. However, if you’ve been having doubts about your relationship, this might be a sign of a deeper problem. If you decide that you are happy with your partner, then keep that in mind for the next few steps. Finding love in NYC can be hard enough, so if you’ve found it, hold onto it! Your love for them is what will make all the hardships of your relationship, including difficulties with their parents, worthwhile.

2. Talk To Your Partner: Once you’ve thought about your feelings, bring them up to your partner. Getting this awful feeling off your chest will ease your relationship and will open up true honesty between the both of you. By talking to your partner, it will give both of you the opportunity to express your true feelings and see what the next steps should be. Tell them how you feel and ask them to do the same. Chances are they may have noticed their parents behavior too! They might even have insight to help you improve your relationship with their parents. Keep in mind that they may need some time to think about what’s going on, especially if they weren’t aware of relationship problems in the first place.

Related Link: Relationship Advice: How to Handle Your Significant Other’s Family

3. Talk To Their Parents: Once you’ve talked to your partner, the two of you should take the discussion to their parents. A laid-back and open talk gives you and your significant other and their parents an opportunity to express and understand each other’s feelings with compassion. Here’s helpful relationship advice that will help you move forward during this talk:

  • Start off by telling your S/O’s parents what you’ve noticed tension and how it makes you feel. Focus on yourself. Remember those “I” statements you had to learn in middle school? Bring those back. Tap into your own emotions and avoid blaming them.
  • Come together as a united front. Make sure the parents know that you and your S/O have talked about this and are on the same page. Have each other’s backs, and support each other during the discussion.
  • Listen to what their parents have to say. Maybe this whole thing has been a misunderstanding. Or maybe something you said when you first met your S/O’s parents left a bad taste in their mouth and they didn’t know how to approach you about it. Maybe they genuinely just don’t like you. You won’t know until you ask and listen to what they have to say.
  • Relationship experts and NYC Matchmakers Jenn and Lori say that the most important step is to express your feelings towards their son or daughter. Tell them that you care about your S/O and want to have a better relationship. Also tell them that their actions will not influence your relationship with your loved one. You should be friendly when you talk with them, but don’t let them push you and your S/O around.

4. Move Forward, But Don’t Obsess: If the talk goes well, great! If the talk doesn’t go well, don’t worry! All is not lost! Remember what has grounded you throughout this experience: your love for your significant other. If you don’t think that your relationship with your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s parents will improve, there’s nothing more you can do at this point to help the situation. Ultimately, you and your partner decide what’s best for the two of you. Dating in NYC can be tough, but just keep calm and focus on being happy with your cutie!

For more advice on love and relationships from relationship experts, check out our website.