When you're dating someone from a large family, and you don't come from one yourself, there are so many little adjustments necessary to get used to this radically different family dynamic. It is easy to occasionally forget that they have an entourage of siblings and parents and cousins and other relatives who will occasionally pop into your life without warning. But that's the thing about big families: They can and will pop up all the time, so you can't forget about them even for a minute. Those of us who come from large families laugh in the face of people who make long-term plans for their weekends—we know that there is no such thing as a plan when there are this many humans in our lives. It is a beautiful kind of chaos and if you're dating someone who is already living it, I promise you will get pulled into it, too.
Fair warning: Dating someone from a large family isn't going to turn into some Duggars-like fantasy world where everyone is chipper and gets along all the time. (Well, I guess if it were actually a "Duggar-like" world, it would also be creepy and homophobic too, but that's not the point.) Those of us in big families love each other and we have plenty of love to go around (hence, our ability to love you, person we date, so much), but as an outsider, if you spend enough time with us, you will occasionally see an entire different side of us. When the whole tribe gets together and we're all interrupting and yelling over each other and generally acting like goons, things can get real in a way that you probably never experienced in a small family. But if you can take the heat, you're more than welcome in our figurative kitchen. There are just a few things you need to know first:
If you offer us food, we will take it, and we will eat it as fast as possible
You snooze, you lose. That is the cardinal rule of eating in big families. You will wonder why we are eating like a trash monster, and we will be smug about being the last to survive the oncoming zombie apocalypse.
We can pretty much sleep through anything
People from big families are, in fact, the wisest choice for those of you chronic snorers out there. Once you've slept through all of your siblings running around yelling on a Saturday morning, you can sleep through literally anything.
We will totally stop on sidewalks to talk to strange babies and pets
When you grow up surrounded by baby siblings and cousins and so many family pets that you can't even count them, you get pretty shameless about talking to the ones that aren't related to you, too. So get ready for your long romantic walks to occasionally get interrupted by NEW FRIENDS.
Bringing food to our house is the fastest and most surefire way to earn our family's love
My little sister wasn't even technically dating a guy when he brought us cupcakes and I still wanted our family to adopt him. Take a note from his book: When you're bringing us food, you should bring a LOT OF IT (have I not mentioned that we are barbarians?).
We can complain about our family all we want, but you're not allowed to
And this will probably be the rule for the rest of our lives. We, in turn, will not complain about your family, and will listen to whatever complaints you have as well.
We have very little regard for personal space
Is that a booger in your nose? Here, let me grab it for you without asking for permission, on our second date.
We will occasionally talk very loud and very fast
We are so used to getting interrupted that, even when everyone around us is totally calm, we'll be telling you about the weather with the kind of volume that other people use to warn you that a meteor is about to hit.
You will likely never meet the entire family
Because we're not even sure if we have at this point.
Our eye roll game is on fleek
One of the tried-and-true mottos of parents of big families is, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." So we pretty much mastered side-eyes and eye rolls before we even knew how to formulate full grammatically correct sentences. When you have a big family, you need to know how to make your annoyed feelings felt without words that will get you in trouble.
We are very big on sharing
I mean all kinds of sharing: Over-sharing about gross stuff; sharing our food and our clothes; sharing chairs that clearly only have room for one person's butt without the other person's express permission. We don't mind and we hope you don't either, because nothing belongs to any one person around us.
We think of expected arrival times as suggestions
If we all managed to get piled in the car to actually go somewhere during my childhood, we didn't know what to do with ourselves. And we were never on time. It is a miracle we ever got on the planes we didn't miss (and trust me, we did miss a lot).
You will likely get pulled into some random family thing every weekend
In fact, the odds that we don't have a graduation, a birthday, an actual birth, or a wedding taking place on any given weekend are pretty slim. Also, we just like each other a lot so we're going to find any excuse to hang out that we possibly can. If you want to spend time with the person you're dating, and that person is part of a big family, you're likely in for a great many "date/family function" combinations.
We are not always the neatest people
In our defense, NEITHER WERE OUR SIBLINGS. Although we will try very hard not to be total slobs when you're around, it is basically woven into the fabric of our DNA.
You’ll work twice as hard to get our family's approval
Only because there’s twice as many of us. Don't be scared, though: Once you earn their approval, it is totally worth it.
You will be smothered with love by our families forever
Did you enjoy breathing out of that ribcage of yours? Too damn bad, because you're going to get squeeze-hugged like an anaconda pretty much every other day.
When we make room for you, we worked really hard to do it
You can take one look at us and the army that is our family and know that our lives are crazy. If we have carved this much time and shared this much love with you, then you know that we think you're really special. Trust me, we wouldn't do it for just anyone.
Images: ABC; Wifflegiff (13)