I’ve never felt sure enough about a boy to allow him to meet my friends. For the most part, I’ve never felt strongly about the boys who I’ve casually dated and therefore, was never willing to have them be a bigger part of my life, Wesley however, was a different story. One of my biggest pet-peeves is when people start up new relationships and immediately forget about their friendships with other people–I didn’t want to be that kind of person. Granted, lives get complicated with work and school and everything in between but my friends mean everything to me, so it was definitely a big step when I decided that Wesley should meet them.
Even though I had already met his friends, I was completely terrified to have him meet mine, especially since my friends and I are a bit of an intimidating group due to how long we’ve all known each other.
But I decided that for my friend Richard’s 24th birthday BBQ, I’d invite Wesley to meet the five people that I’m the closest to, since nowadays, I was so close with him.
“I can tell you’re nervous,” he observed as we rode the train together and I compulsively picked at my fingernails. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it. “It’s going to be fine, you know that, right?”
I nodded, trying to calm my nerves. In reality–there wasn’t much to be nervous about, he was excited to meet my friends and they were excited to meet him. Still, it made me anxious to have people that I care about meet one another and interact. What if Wesley’s sense of humor didn’t read? What if my friends and I continued to reference inside jokes? What if it was unbelievably awkward? What if someone offended him or the other way around? All these concerns continued to run through my mind, even as we walked up to Richard’s backyard. I squeezed Wesley’s hand tightly and breathed in deeply; this appeared to be more nerve-wracking to me than when he had met my parents. We were official now, and I had been constantly talking about this guy so the expectations were high, and it scared me that my friends, or Wesley, would be disappointed.
But we entered straight into the party holding each others’ hands tightly and faced everyone together. It was the first time that he was seeing all of these people and as for me, even though I had known everyone for about half of my life, it was the first time that I was walking through a party with someone that I was calling my boyfriend. But I was happy it was with Wesley, who appeared to be more confident in this situation than I was.
As we strolled through the moist grass, with music blaring in the background and the smell of kebabs mixing with the humid air, everyone turned to look at me and the boy who I was with. My friends smiled my way and quickly glanced at one another, communicating their disbelief that I was finally in a relationship and that they were about to meet this person. I introduced him to everyone and for the first time I was able to say, “This is my boyfriend.” Once the words came out of my mouth and hands were shook and hugs were exchanged, I felt relief. As I watched the people that I cared about talk and laugh with one another, I suddenly knew that it would all be okay–my friends and my boyfriend would get along and enjoy each other’s company, because they all cared for me and wanted to see me happy, and of course, because they’re all wonderful.
We left the party hours later, after lots of drinking, eating and most importantly, spending time with my friends.
“Are you feeling better now?” Wesley asked me as we exited the house. I nodded without hesitation.
“I’m really happy you met my friends,” I said, a soft smile breaking out on my face. He smiled at me. “I am too,” he said leaning into me. And just like that, the toughest part was over.
Knowing what an overwhelming experience meeting people for the first time can be, here are some tips on how to make that first meeting go smoothly and impress the friends of that person who has your heart:
1. Know who you’re meeting! It seems simple enough so make sure not to skip this step! Debrief your significant other so that they know what they’re getting themselves into. Tell him (or her) who it is that they’re going to be hanging out with; provide names, what this person means to you, something that they might have in common and a personality trait. It sounds like a lot, but it helps avoid uncomfortable situations
2. Dress to impress. I’m not suggesting this because I’m superficial, and of course it all depends on the circumstances, but if you know that you’re going to be meeting new people, it really helps if you look nice. It’s important to be comfortable and clothing definitely helps with that. You don’t have to wear a tux, but skip the sweat-stained t-shirts and those worn out running sneakers. If you look your best, you’ll feel your best.
3. Be friendly! It might be a little scary having to start conversations with people that you don’t know at all, but it makes all the difference! If you’re just sitting in the corner, people will find it difficult to approach you, so my advice: smile and initiate conversation. If you talk to people, they’ll want to talk to you too.
4. Be yourself. Sure, it’s a bit of a cliche but it’s very important. This is the first impression that people are getting of you so make sure you’re being honest with them about who you are. Be open about yourself–don’t hide your silly quirks or your funny laugh. In the long run, people will appreciate your honesty.
Good luck to all of you meeting the friends and family of your significant other. Just remember to breathe, and not stress too much–you can’t control everything so let people talk and hang out. It will all work out.