I'm not sure why but I have this weird rule that a relationship isn't official until I've met my partner's closest friends. I know it's not always the case but my general thinking is that as long a new relationship remains solely between the two of you, it's almost too easy to make a clean break — to ghost, basically. There's no one perfect time when you should meet your partner's friends but it's safe to say that once you do, you've both agreed that things are getting more serious.
Meeting each other's friends means you're ready to go public with your relationship — it's today's equivalent to being Facebook-official. Dating coach and best-selling author Diana Dorell explains that the best time to meet your partner's friends or vice versa is when you're ready to be more involved in each other's lives.
When your partner introduces you to their friends, they're sharing another side of themselves that you may not be familiar with. Getting to know the people they enjoy spending their time with can reveal a lot about your partner's hobbies and lifestyle choices that will ultimately strengthen your relationship with them. Even if the meeting is a casual one, it's still a significant step forward in your relationship.
During my last relationship, I met my partner's very large group of guy friends at a backyard barbecue they hosted during the summer. We had been dating for about a month and I was beginning to worry that I was his only friend — a red flag in my books. I was so far off. His friends all showed up to the event in tiny, neon-colored swim trunks and called each other by elaborate pet names all afternoon. I loved how laid back the whole thing felt and how comfortable they seemed around each other because ultimately, it made me feel more comfortable around my partner. I could tell that they had been friends for years and I felt privileged to observe all of their weird traditions, like taking an annual group shot as they held hands and cannonballed into the pool (we've since broken up but Facebook has confirmed that they still do this).
What I appreciated most about meeting my partner's friends, though, was hearing him introduce me as his girlfriend. It was clear that most of his friends already knew who I was and had heard a lot about me — you know, like people always say when they meet someone new... except I could tell they really meant it. Meeting his friends helped me clarify exactly where I stood in his life, which made things a lot easier going forward. In fact, I'm still friends with a few of them today, more than a year after my partner and I split.
Of course, if you and your partner met through mutual friends on your college campus or at your favorite bar, you've probably already met their friends. In this case, the question isn't so much when you should meet their friends (since their friends are your friends) but when you should talk to your mutual friends about your relationship. Assuming your friends set you up or that they spend a lot of time with you two, they may already know that you and your partner are involved so a formal, sit-down talk isn't exactly necessary. Instead, casually let them know that you and your partner have decided to date each other exclusively and that you hope they can support your relationship. Because they already know and love you both, I'm sure they will.
On the other hand, if you've introduced your partner to your friends and they haven't reciprocated, they just might not be ready for that step. Dorell advises, "Have a conversation about making a plan to meet theirs if it's important to you but don't stress if it doesn't happen right away. Everyone has their own timeline!" Instead of getting impatient, try to understand your partner's concerns — it might have nothing to do with you at all. Maybe they've recently lost friends over a traumatic relationship or have had a friend ruin a former relationship. You don't want to stress them out further by demanding to meet their friends before they're ready. In the meantime, maintain open communication and let them know you're excited to be a part of their lives. Eventually, you'll be able to discern if their concerns about introducing you to their friends are legitimate or if they're simply leading you on.
Although meeting each other's friends is a good way to solidify your romantic relationship, remember that your relationship should be based primarily on how you feel about each other. If you get along well with your partner, chances are you'll do just as well with their friends.
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