When to Introduce Your Date to Your Friends
by Kat Richter

Lego girl looking nervous about getting introduced to her date's friends. All of them.

New relationships are like toys. They're fun, they're entertaining, and chances are, you'll want to show them to your friends as quickly as possible. But hold on a minute. We're not talking about a new Barbie or the latest iPhone. We're talking about a human being, and you need to consider their feelings and those of your friends.

Introducing your date to your friends can be a great way to move your relationship forward (especially if you manage to initiate a conversation about your status as a couple during the process). But before you ask, "So...should I introduce you as my friend or as my girlfriend?" make sure you're equipped to handle those introductions.

Timing is important and we recommend you wait at least a month before the unveiling. We also recommend that you give some thought as to why, how and to whom you introduce your date.

Patience, Grasshopper

If you're hatching a scheme to "accidentally" run into a few friends on your next date, stop. Stop right now. Think about it: how would you feel if you were envisioning a romantic evening for two and suddenly you found yourself surrounded by an entire cheerleading squad?

Of course, if you're into cheerleaders, this might be your greatest fantasy but if you're interested in getting to know that one particular cheerleader, the appearance of her entire squad might not be such a welcome development.

Ask yourself why you want to introduce your date to your friends. Are you looking to show off? To gain their approval? To ask them if they think the two of you should continue dating? We're all human, and we all like the validation that a friend's support can provide, but if those are your reasons for wanting to introduce your date to your friends, you may want to think again.

Talk About It

If, on the other hand, you want to introduce your date to your friends because you enjoy spending with them and want to bring your date into the fold, then go for it. If you're getting serious and you'd like to introduce your date because you always apprise your friends of serious developments in your life, then have at it. If your date shares a common interest with one of your friends and you think they'd enjoy each other's company, start planning. Just make sure they don't feel like you're putting them on the spot.

Before you invite your BFFs to crash your next date, take some time to talk to your crush about your intentions. Let him or her know that you're not trying to put them on "display" and that you're not looking to gain your friends' approval. Ask them what sort of situation would be the most comfortable for them, and if your friends are known for their weird sense of humor or off-color remarks, be sure to warn your date beforehand.

Keep it Social

Start off by inviting your date to a party, sporting event or a concert. By giving your friends somewhere else to focus (the band, the football team, the make-your-own-martini bar), you'll take some of the pressure off of your date. You'll also be giving all interested parties the chance to establish some common ground - and something common to talk about.

This is especially important if you're dating someone outside of your usual circle. One of the reasons why introducing your date to your friends can be so challenging is because your friends have known you longer than your date has. When you reunite with your old posse, you may be tempted to reminisce about last year's ski trip or all of the crazy stunts you pulled in college but you don't want to leave your date out of the loop. By inviting everyone to meet up for a specific activity, you can help to ensure that no one - especially your date - ends up feeling left out.

Prep Your Friends

Just as you you've prepped your date for meeting your friends, you need to prep your friends for meeting your date. If you'd rather they didn't share that embarrassing story about what happened during Senior Week or at the office Christmas party, then ask them not to. And if your date feels passionately about a particular subject - be it politics, social issues or even tutoring underprivileged kids - make sure your friends know to respect your date's opinions, even if they disagree.

It's your job to serve as the host/hostess in this situation, which means it's your job to make the introductions and to ensure that everyone feels comfortable.   If your friends start attacking your date or vise verse, it's up to you to step in and restore the peace.

Family vs. Friends

One final thought: you may wonder why this article has focused on introducing your date to your friends instead of your family. Well, that's because at this point, you probably want to leave your family out of it. There are exceptions of course - especially if your date comes from a more traditional household - but generally speaking, your friends are your peers. As such, they're way less intimidating than your parents or your older brother. They're also less likely to give your date the third degree - and less likely to give you the third degree if the relationship doesn't work out. (If, however, you start the introductions with your mother and the relationship falls apart, mom is going to being mightily disappointed to hear that grandkids won't be happening any time soon.)

Homework

  • Think back to your last relationship. Did you introduce your date to your friends and if so, how did it go? Ask your friends what they thought and if there were any awkward moments, ask them how you might be able to do better this time around.
  • Gauge your date's interest by casually mentioning an event you're planning with your friends. If they seem keen, ask them to join you.
  • If your date is shy and reluctant to meet your friends, suggest a small get together in a low-pressure situation. Do something fun like bowling or ice skating so that you'll have plenty of things to talk about and your date won't be forced to interact with your friends the entire time.
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