Four ways to ensure eternal harmony between your friends and lovers. Congratulations, you got someone to agree to date you! You've flirted very obviously in front of your coworkers, you've done sloppy drunk makeouts in the backseat of a Lyft, and you think you've figured out who her ex is based on Instagrams from 2012 and you actually think he looks like a nice guy. Now it's time to introduce her to your friends.
Friends and romantic partners are probably the two most important people in our lives once we move out of our parents' homes, and it's vital that they at least tolerate one another.
A lot of men bungle the intro. You don't want to be a lot of men. You want to be the guy who smoothly navigates the differences between how he behaves around Chaz and Chet and how he acts around the current love of his life. You don't want to lose your friendships, and you certainly don't want to lose the first woman to ever find your disgusting car "charming." So here's how to treat your girlfriend around your friends.
Don't throw her into the deep end
No matter how much we'd all love the contrary to be true, first impressions have a way of sticking. In a lot of ways it's on you to make sure your girlfriend makes a good first impression when you bring her around. If you can help it, don't introduce your partner to your friends during an overwhelming event.
The first time your girlfriend meets the gang should not be during the float weekend that you and your four childhood friends do every year and have for the past fifteen. Save vacations for when she knows all of your friends' names, their partners' names, and isn't the only person not in on the inside joke you guys have about Nic Cage or whatever.
Bringing someone into the fold like that sets them up to feel the full weight of their outsider-ness and makes it almost impossible for them to get to know anyone. Instead-especially if you are in a tight-knit, long-standing group of friends-introduce your partner to people one or two at a time.
Don't abandon her
Once your girlfriend does know your friends, and you start bringing her to larger and larger group events, don't leave her alone. I obviously don't mean follow her from room to room and linger outside the bathroom when she's in there. I don't even want you to feel like you need to be involved in every conversation that she's a part of.
Just don't abandon your partner at a party you brought her to, where you know twenty people and she knows two (you, and your sketchy roommate Jay). Just check in. Ask if she needs anything (ask once, or even twice!) You don't need to dote on her, but just being there and reminding her of the names of people she's only met once, after two pitchers of sangria, is a nice touch.
And try not leave her alone with difficult or creepy people. If you know that your friend Hannah tends to be very overwhelming to talk to, don't let Hannah corner your partner for two hours. And if Edwin is a sexist asshole, don't abandon your girlfriend and head for the wine pong.
If you aren't hanging out with her, but see that she seems uncomfortable in a situation, come up and talk to her. Give her easy outs. It's not your job to hold her hand through every social interaction, but be aware of what makes your friends difficult to be around.
Watching your friends play Madden for four hours isn't fun. Leave social events earlier than you would on your own. Whether you're introverted or not, new people usually take a lot of energy to be around, and your date probably has to put in a lot more effort with your buddies than she does with her best friends. So don't stay over until 4 am reliving every "epic" drunk night you guys had in college while she sits on the couch refreshing her Instagram feed, hoping that you'll get the hint that she wanted to leave six hours ago.
(Also, please stop saying epic; it's 2018) Yes, she is absolutely capable of vocalizing her wants and needs, and I'm sure she will. But she might not: Maybe she doesn't want to put a damper on your good time by tamping out. She's there and smiling because she cares about you, so respect that and make a move to leave as soon as you can tell she's bored. Make it seem like it's at least a little bit your idea: Just ask "are you ready to get out of here?"
Don't treat her differently around your friends
I'm hesitant to use the movie Grease as an example of anything other than a bangin' soundtrack. The moral of the movie is "change yourself for love." But! The movie has at least one good lesson: Danny Zuko looks like an ass when he tries to be cool in front of his friends. That is how you will look if you try to impress your friends. You don't behave the same way you do around your Nonna as you do around your coworkers, and that's great.
But who you are around your friends and who you are around your girlfriend should be very similar. If it's not, that means that either that your girlfriend sucks or your friends suck (you may also suck). Don't you dare bring your partner around your friends and then try to impress them by telling embarrassing stories about her, or by unleashing the douchey side that you've somehow kept hidden from her.
Almost nothing could be a bigger red flag than a guy who turns into an asshole in front of his friends. No one is asking that you do full-on PDA or use the cutesy nicknames you guys have for each other in front of other people, but don't become a tool just because your friends are watching. It's embarrassing for everyone.
Ultimately, if you're not ready to admit that your friends can be dumb, loud, or overwhelming, you probably aren't ready to introduce your date to said friends. And if you put the wants of your friends over the needs of your date, you won't have a girlfriend for much longer. Do remember though, that while she may never love Crazy Geoff as much as you do, a good partner will put in a lot of effort simply because Crazy Geoff means a lot to you.
Sophia Benoit is a writer
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