Fathers-in-law are tricky humans to mess around with. They’re full of contradictions. They usually respect that their daughter makes pretty good decisions, but they also have a parental responsibility to her, even if she’s grown up, so they’ll always view you at least slightly suspiciously. Getting along with the in-laws is key. The mother-in-law is pretty simple if you’re a guy. The father-in-law? Not always. The important thing to remember is that there are several types of them.
The Good Ol’ Boy
The name might imply that this guy is from the South, but there are versions of the good ol’ boy everywhere. Basically, he’s the laid back guy who just wants his daughter to marry someone who he can have a few beers and do activities with. He’s not a high maintenance guy. As long as his daughter enjoys being around you, and you treat her right, and you laugh at his jokes, you’re alright in his book. He doesn’t pry too much into your affairs, and he does his best to act as a buffer when your mother-in-law does. Just don’t underestimate him. The good ol’ boy has a few tricks up his sleeve, and he knows a few key people if you ever fuck up.
The Unnecessarily Protective Dad
He usually works in some sort of labor-intensive job and drinks Bud Heavy. He’s a pretty nice guy overall, but he never really broke out of the high school dad stereotype. He’s not cleaning his gun on the porch when you arrive, but he definitely puts out a metaphorical shotgun vibe. It’s a tough situation. Sure, he cares about his daughter and he only wants the best for her, but it’s a little weird that he’s still in this mindset. I mean, your girlfriend is very much an adult (probably more than you) and has a real job with a real salary (that pays probably more than yours). So why is it that he still acts like he’s the patriarch whose obligation is to his daughter’s innocence so that he can get the best dowry of goats for her when she weds? Well, he was raised that way. In all likelihood, he had to put up with this shit from his wife’s dad, and it’s all he knows. Robert (that’s always his name) doesn’t know that the world views women as individuals capable of handling their own affairs. He’s not an ass, he’s just out of the loop. Your responsibility is to first placate his fears and prove that you’re a good guy, and also to encourage your girlfriend to assert her independence.
The Goofy, Fun One
Is this guy my favorite? Absolutely. I’m a dad joke connoisseur, so if a girl I’m seeing has a dad who tells lame puns and responds to “I’m cold” with “I’m Dave, nice to meet you, cold,” then that’s just an added relationship bonus. Ty Burrell on “Modern Family” is obviously the archetype for this guy. I could hang out with that fictional father-in-law all day. Hell, I’d probably rather hang with him than my girlfriend half the time. He’s easy to win over, too. As long as you tell some goofy jokes around the dinner table, help clean the dishes, and listen to him misquote “Airplane,” you’re in the money.
The Disinterested Party
He doesn’t really hate you, but he doesn’t particularly like you, either. It’s tough to say whether this father-in-law is overall good or bad to have. On one hand, he’s pretty cold and hard to talk to, but on the other, he basically leaves you alone and doesn’t talk shit about you to your girlfriend behind your back. I’m gonna chalk this one up as a tie.
The Dad Who Likes You Way Too Much
It’s always great when your girlfriend’s parents are fans of you. It just makes your life easier. Parents, just like friends, are in your girlfriend’s ear all the time, so if they’re saying good things about you rather than talking shit, it lessens your burden of having to constantly prove you’re a good boyfriend. The problem is, this can sometimes go a bit far. Maybe it’s because your girlfriend has always dated shitheads and you’re a breath of fresh air, or maybe he just craves the approval of other males–who knows? But for whatever reason, her dad is just way into you. He invites you to go golfing, take fishing trips, and pretty much do all extracurricular activities, which is great. But the problem is, you’re the only person tagging along under the age of 50. He also has this tendency to joke around about how if you and his daughter broke up, he’d choose you over her, which would be funny and all, except you have this sneaking suspicion that he’s serious. By the way, I hear stories like this all the time, where two people break up and one person still stays close with his or her ex’s parents. Like, why? Seriously, if you’re reading this and this applies to you, please enlighten me, because it makes no damn sense..