There comes a golden moment in every relationship when you're ready for your two worlds to collide by introducing bae to your friends. You may have in mind the perfect time for a get-together (or have rehearsed all the funny anecdotes you're going to tell), but you might still be wondering just where should your friends meet your boyfriend or girlfriend. This relationship milestone may require a lot of vulnerability — on both your end and your partner's. But that doesn't mean you should be nervous. It just means that you'll need to pick a place where everyone is comfortable and where it's easy for the ice to be broken.
Ideally, this means a very chill situation — somewhere fun and low-pressure, and where all parties can talk and get to know one another. So, go ahead and cross ragers and raves of any kind off your list. Weddings and birthday parties can be a bit dicey because it puts a lot of pressure on your SO, so play those by ear. But definitely not a funeral or any kind of big, intimidating event, especially with family to meet on top of friends. (Introducing your SO to your family is another milestone that both needs to be planned out and needs for the timing to be just right.) So, how should you go about setting up this introduction?
Licensed counselor and dating coach Marquita Johnson (aka the Millennial Dating Coach) says her top places for introducing your SO to friends are restaurants, parks, sporting events, concerts, and festivals. Johnson's thought process is that you should pick a place where your friends and your beloved can engage each other, yes, but also learn about one another. Chatting about favorite foods, playing Frisbee at the park, talking smack about one another's teams, or trading thoughts on the artist you're seeing lays the foundation for your crew's budding relationship with your SO. "It also allows for commonalities to emerge without feeling forced," Johnson says. That is to say: You, your friends, and your SO get to be in that moment together.
Another situation that you can get bae and your friends together for is a game night. This can be somewhere super comfortable and casual like your house, apartment, or residence hall. It can also be at a bar where they do trivia nights. Similar to watching sports (or playing them in your local park), game nights bring about some friendly competition. And if you're playing a game like Cards Against Humanity, your partner and your friends will get to know each other real quick!
A happy hour at a very low-key bar — not the busiest one in town where you must shout to be heard — and then going to the movies isn't a bad move. Neither is an outdoor markets with vendors that you can check out. There's also the magical promise of the beach, if you're lucky enough to live near one. Not only are your surroundings gorgeous, but there are so many routes you can take to make sure the meet-up goes smoothly.
You can split the crew up into teams for volleyball. You can bring food and do a little beach picnic. Everyone can take turns wading into the water or even doing water sports, if they're about that life. It's hard to be grumpy or lukewarm toward someone as you're squishing sand between your toes, splash-fighting them, or clinking a cold one on a perfectly spread-out, tethered, and hopefully sand-free towel. That's the ultimate mix of drinks, snacks, sunny conversation, and actual sunshine.
What you've got to look out for is a place where there's an opportunity to connect, but also an "out" if conversation slows or folks aren't quite clicking. "Having another activity to engage in — eating, watching a sporting event, or enjoying nature — can provide a healthy distraction and allow for natural conversation," Johnson says. "It helps ease potential feelings of discomfort that usually accompanies meeting new people." That is to say, the pressure is off your friends to like your partner right away (and the heat is off your partner to be liked right away).
If it seems like one isn't too keen on the other, don't stress. Johnson reminds us that ultimately, we're the ones in a relationship with our SO — not our friends. "If your friends are not head-over-heels with your significant other, don’t panic," Johnson says. "It is OK to be open to their feedback, but know that it is your decision on who you decide to be in a relationship with." Your friends probably have good intentions and could have a thoughtful reason as to why your SO rubs them the wrong way. But ultimately, you've got to trust your own gut. "No one knows you better than you," Johnson says.
One pro-tip that Johnson gives — apart from avoiding graduations, weddings, birthday parties, and work events — is not to surprise your SO or your friends with the fact that you're introducing them to one another. "It can be awkward for all parties involved," she says. It's also a good idea to touch base with your partner and see if meeting one friend at a time would be a better fit than meeting the whole crew at once.
If you are feeling anxious or nervous about picking the proper place (and just making sure everything runs smoothly), acknowledge those feelings: They're valid. But also see the planning process as an opportunity to make some positive memories and bring your two worlds together — while having a bit of fun in the process.