If you have siblings, you may feel this innate protectiveness over them—even if they're older. With this in mind, it makes sense that when they introduce you to someone who may potentially break their heart, you may be a little tougher on their new partner than you would be on, say, their new co-worker. Even though it's coming from a place of love, try to ease up a bit because their new S.O. is probably already intimidated and nervous about meeting his or her partner's sibling.
Even if your sibling's new partner isn't exactly your cup of tea, being rude or standoffish won't do anything except upset your sibling and give their partner a bad first impression of her significant other's family. Our advice? Be as nice as you can (without coming across as fake), and if she isn't the right person for your sibling, they'll realize that on their own in due time.
Do: Welcome Them
Nothing puts people more at ease than a warm and inviting host. If your brother and his new girlfriend are coming to stay with you, talk to him and find out what sort of things she is into, so you can make a concerted effort to bond with and get to know her. Of course, you don't have to go too big and grand; just keep it simple. If she loves Italian food, make a restaurant at your favorite pasta joint. If she's into exercising, sign the two of you up for a spin class. Your brother will also be so glad to see two important people in his life getting along.
Don't: Throw Your Sibling Under the Bus
Of course, a little fun-poking can lighten the mood, but make sure your jokes are appropriate and don't paint your sibling in a bad light to her new partner. For instance, funny stories to tell over a glass of wine that won't make your sister's cheeks go red could be that time she overslept and missed her flight or when she burned the Thanksgiving pie and had to run out for a store-bought option at the last minute.
Stay away from anything that your sibling may be ashamed of or wouldn't want to talk about, like a drunken night or an embarrassing sexual encounter.
Do: Read the Room
If your sibling's new partner is coming to the extended family's big holiday brunch, keep an eye on her. Notice that she's been talking to your pretentious and politically-charged uncle for the past 20 minutes? Jump in and save her with a family story of your own.
If the vibe is much more intimate, like a couples dinner at a your place, keep the conversation flowing so that there aren't any awkward silences. Maybe come with a few stories prepared just in case, if on-the-cusp witty banter isn't exactly your strong suit.
You may be curious about your sibling's new love interest, but try to keep your questions at bay. After all, you don't want him to feel like he's at a job interview. Be engaging and inquire about his interests, childhood, college experience, and profession, but definitely don't ask about her any of his former relationships.
Some safe questions to ask: Where did you two meet? What did you do on your first date?
Do: Be on Your Best Behavior
Cocktails and red wine may help ease any pressure for this meeting to go well, but try to limit your consumption so that you don't end up getting drunk and doing or saying something you may regret. On that note, be extra cautious of any potentially hurtful comments. Your sibling's new partner may have a different sense of humor than yours, so what you deem hilarious, she may take as rude. When in doubt, air on the side of caution and be considerate.
Don't: Embarrass Anyone
This goes hand-in-hand with being on your best behavior. Deferring to your sibling may not come naturally to you, but for this particular occasion, try to avoid doing, wearing, or saying anything that you know will bother her. If you want to be extra considerate, ask her if there's anything she'd rather you stay away from.
Do: Make an Effort
Even if you don't see this relationship lasting a lifetime, make an effort to get to know your sibling's new S.O., and make her feel welcome. As we said, she's probably already feeling a little nervous about meeting you, so acting like you're happy and excited to finally meet her (even if you aren't) will make both her and your sibling so happy.
It's hard not to judge a book by its cover, but do your absolute best not to be openly judgmental. Whether she's wearing a hideous turtleneck or a too-low-cut dress, keep your opinions to yourself because commenting on her outfit will just make her uncomfortable and ruin the whole evening.
The same goes for what she says: Unless she says something downright offensive, try to keep quiet and just nod politely. On a similar note, she and your sibling may be annoyingly public about their displays of affection, but it's only because they're so happy and want to express their love for each other. You may have been the same way when you and your partner started dating and were probably relieved that no one made you feel bad about it.
Do: Give Them a Chance
Keep in mind that everyone doesn't always give off an excellent first impression, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're bad people. Before you write your sibling's new partner off as someone you don't like, give him a chance and consider the circumstances. Maybe his luggage got lost at the airport lost his luggage, and he's feeling a little stressed; maybe he and your sibling had a little spat in the car on the way to your home and are trying their best to be amicable until they're in private; or maybe he just got bad news from a friend or family member and is trying not to be a downer.
Give him the benefit of the doubt and be open-minded.