Relationships are complicated, even though they involve (typically) only two people. The beginning stages of a partnership can be challenging, especially when introducing your new partner to your circle of friends. A conversation with friends can be torture when you hear from them that they aren’t too fond of your new beau. What to do? Do you end the relationship because longtime friends don’t approve? Or do you stick to your guns and continue to grow the relationship, despite the fact that your best friend can’t stand being around the two of you?
There are a number of things to consider when deciding how much your friends’ opinion matters when dating someone new. First, and probably the most obvious misunderstanding could be because your best friend doesn’t see your interaction when you are most intimate – (s)he doesn’t see the raw physical connection between you and your partner in that moment. (And (s)he probably never will.) It’s hard to articulate to anyone, let alone your entire social group, the physical chemistry between the two of you.
On the flip side, one cliché is true: Love is blind. Make sure to take a step away and analyze how well suited you and your partner are for each other. Be certain you’re not “dating down” just because of a strong physical attraction or connection in the bedroom. As a long time matchmaker, I know a physical connection is important; but long term, it’s about “the whole package,” not just a hot body.
If your closest friends are adamant that your partner is a not a good fit for you, make sure to ask and understand why they believe this. In some cases, your closest friends feel that your (new) partner is sucking up all your time, and you aren’t leaving enough “alone time” with just friends.
This is especially true in new relationships (great example of “love is blind”). On that note, does your partner not want to meet your friends for some reason? Does (s)he expect that all your free time be spent together, and alone? Are you subconsciously letting your good friends go by the wayside? Always keep a balance, and listen to your friends if they feel neglected.
If friends start complaining that you are spending too much time with your partner, or that they don’t like seeing the two of you together, their main motivation for these statements could be because they are single, and potentially extremely jealous that they “lost” their best friend or “wingman/woman” when going out to the bars or to singles events. Jealousy is an ugly thing – and we would like to think that it only exists in immature people, but unfortunately, it’s not the case. A jealous friend will probably never like your girl/boyfriend.
Your closest friends should be supportive of your relationship goals - they love you and want you to be happy. If your friends are genuine in these feelings, they should give your partner a chance and truly get to know her/him before passing judgment. Introducing your new partner in a more intimate setting will ease conversation. Group events, even large dinner parties as a first meeting can be intimidating to even the most self-confident people. And as much as alcohol can be a fantastic social lubricant sometimes, excessive drinking or partying with your friends and partner as a first time meeting can end in total disaster. Lunch, coffee, a small dinner party are the best settings to introduce your partner to your buddies.
Another thing to remember before your worlds collide, is to make sure to prep both sides. Tell your friends NOT to bring up the time in college when you streaked the quad as a dare for a free slice of pizza. Tell your partner NOT to only have “small chat” with you, talking only about inside jokes. Both sides could see this as competing for attention or your love – and it will only go downhill from there.
Prep your friends in telling them that your partner is a bit of an introvert, if so, for example, and not to judge or be on the attack if (s)he seems quiet over brunch. Have your partner understand how you know your friends, who they are, and how far you go back. (Note: if your social group is an entire circle of your exes, AVOID introducing them right off the bat!)
One more thing to consider: Did your friends absolutely LOVE your ex, and were they more devastated than you when you broke up? If this is the case, realize that your friends might compare your new partner to your past – and don’t let this hold you back from exploring a new, loving relationship. On the other hand, if you are one to jump from relationship to relationship, your buddies might not be willing to give your new partner the time of day – so hold off on introducing them to each other until you feel committed and/or exclusive.
You should value what your friends have to say about your partner – and consider what steps to take to ensure a smooth introduction. But in the end, YOU’RE the one in the relationship, not them.
If you want personal advice, email me, Meghann@mixologydc.com. Happy dating!