You’ve gone out on a few dates and it’s gone well! There’s definitely chemistry, you get butterflies when you think of her and you both seem to be on the same path in life. What comes next?
It’s the ever-important, ‘meeting her friends’ moment!
She is making you quasi-official, as now people will have a name to put with a face and will be completely judging you and testing you to see if you are a good fit for their dear friend. It can be a little intimidating, depending on the type of friend group she has. DO be on your best behavior
You don’t need to turn into a parody of a Rom-Com suitor or turn into some weird chivalrous prude, but you obviously want to make a good impression. It’s not as formal (or formidable) as meeting the parents, but these are the people that will have the most influence on her and her relationship with you.
My wife’s friends were instrumental in helping her realize that I was the best man for the job! (sarcasm)
But seriously, just be aware that this isn’t the time to get raucously drunk with her old high school pals and demand embarrassing stories of her. That comes later on the ski trip! For now, it’s almost like a friend interview, so you want to be as good and inoffensive as you can be.
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DON’T Be Stingy
A little money goes a long way. Buy her friends some drinks or a round of shots. Suck it up and pay for the dinner.
If you’re all going to see a band or comedy show, get up front and pay the cover charge for everyone (within reason). Everyone knows what you are doing: buttering them up. But, it’s also a social nicety that shows that you are into this woman and want the others to know that you are as well. It’s sort of like picking up the check on the first date.
Is it absolutely necessary? Maybe not, but it will definitely set a positive precedent and show that you are aware of both her needs, and that you understand how to turn on the charm.
DO Prove She’s In Good Hands
All of her friends are going to be looking for a disqualifier all night. A “disqualifier” is a trait or action that, in their mind, disqualifies you as a good match.
Bragging about cheating on your taxes can mean that you are fine with cheating in other areas of your life as well. You want to prove to her (overly) protective friends that you are a solid and stable guy.
Talk about your job a little, but not too much. Tell a little story about doing something nice for her. Brag about how lucky you are with her. Let on that you see a possible future for the two of you.
Right now, they are looking for stability and non-craziness. The fun and sarcasm and roguishness can come later.
DON’T Interrogate or Bring Up Divisive Topics
This is not the time for you to figure out where all her friends stand on political or societal beliefs. If anything, this is their time to interrogate you.
The topics of conversation should be light and fun, like it is supposed to be on a first date.
If someone says something that you don’t agree with (even if it’s really bad), just smile, nod and move on. You can privately discuss this with your girlfriend later if you have an issue with one of them. Now’s not the time to get into it or turn it into a heated discussion.
Likewise, if they are asking you pointed or risqué questions, try to answer but be vague or non-confrontational.
I used to have a Republican friend that always wanted to debate my wife. She would try and say a few thoughts and niceties and then steer the conversation to something else. And, while yes, we live in a politically charged atmosphere now, try and avoid it.
If you start spouting vitriol and getting all fired up, you may come across as an opinionated hothead. Read the room and act accordingly.
DO Encourage Her to Spend Time with Them Alone
When you’re in a group and she and her friends are talking about doing something fun, encourage her to go with them. Don’t invite yourself to everything.
You may think that you look like you are a supportive partner, but you may come across as needy and clingy.
Publicly encouraging her to spend time with her friends shows that you are not the jealous type and that you think that each person should have their own life outside of the relationship.
I say that there are 3 people in any relationship: “you”, “me” and “us.” Each of those entities needs to be nourished.
Likewise, if you are in a big group or out at a party or bar, letting her talk with some of her friends without you hovering at her side like a protective shadow will go a long way. Go out on your own and talk with others in the group and get to know as many people as you can.
They want to see how you are on your own as well, with your lady friend right next to you to offer up the “right” answer to one of their questions.
DON’T Try to Impress Them
Men love to impress women. Let’s put it even simpler: Males love to impress females.
It happens all the time in the animal kingdom. Whether it’s a moose beating down a rival, a peacock showing off his feathers, or a mudskipper demonstrating how high he can jump, the animal kingdom is rife with examples of males doing their darnedest to impress females.
But, meeting her friends is not the time to try and demonstrate how “alpha” you are. Men who try too hard to impress people can come across as insecure at best and an oaf at worst.
While yes, feel free to discuss your job, don’t keep mentioning the promotions or salaries. Share the hobbies and things you are into, but don’t try and brag about the awards you’ve won or how skilled you think you are.
And, for god’s sake, do NOT try to impress them about how good you are with women! You might think that it shows what a great catch you are, but what it really shows is that you are a player that might play their friend.
Hunt Ethridge is a Hoboken-based dating consultant and a fashion writer. Currently, he is the Senior Dating Coach at New York Dating Coach (www.newyorkdatingcoach.com).