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Early adulthood is a developmental stage in which romantic relationships often take priority (Ciesielski & Janowicz, 2021). Parents and parent-in-laws play an important role in new romantic relationships, even before marriage, and their role increases as the couple becomes more serious (Ciesielski & Janowicz, 2021). The family acts as a socialization agent by transferring schemas from parents to children, and the family’s role in an adult child’s life can influence attitudes toward outsiders (Young & Schrodt, 2016). Meeting one’s family is often viewed as an important milestone in a relationship because parents’ approval of a couple’s relationship has been shown to have an impact on future aspects of that relationship. The present study examined what the process of introducing a new romantic partner to one’s family entailed, the relational implications of such an introduction and also attempted to explore how culture can be an influencing factor on expectations surrounding romantic relationships. Initial findings indicated that Introducing a new partner to one’s family has the potential to introduce tension into the familial relationship, but it also has the potential to bring about increased closeness with one’s parents and new relationships with the partner’s family. Participants have different motivations for wanting to introduce their partners to their family members, and this process can shape how the relationship proceeds and how the relationship between the partner and family members affects the romantic relationship. Overall, findings indicated that family members’ communicated acceptance is important for adult children, and relief was a common emotion expressed after the introduction occurred. Based on findings from this investigation, the research team was also able to provide advice for family members and romantic partners about how to approach this introduction.


Dr. Toni Morgan, Communication and Media Studies

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Communication and Media Studies, family socialization

Meet the Family

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