There is nothing unusual about feeling a bit nervous or anxious about meeting your partner’s friends. Whether you’ve been with them for years or you’re just starting your relationship, meeting their friends can be stressful — after all, you want them to like you.
Many of us feel that we need to get the approval of our partner’s friends and that makes the idea of meeting them for the first time a bit intimidating. And while your partner may place some stock in what their friends think of you, it doesn’t really affect their choice to be in a relationship with you all that much. The reality is, your partner is dating you, their friends aren’t.
Remember, meeting your partner‘s friends is about your partner wanting to introduce you to the other people who are important to them — which means that they already classify you as one of those important people. So, you don’t need to be the perfect partner, you just need to be yourself, because that is already enough in your partner’s eyes.
Now, we know that is easier said than done, so we’ve come up with some tips and tricks to help you ease some of that anxiety you’re feeling about the group get-together your partner is trying to set up.
Tips to Ease Anxiety About Meeting Your Partner’s Friends
Without further ado, here are some ways to calm yourself down as well as some ways to help make the experience a little bit more comfortable for you — because let’s be honest, it can be quite intimidating!
Pick a Familiar Place
Meeting your partner’s friends is already going to be taking you outside of your usual comfort zones so picking a coffee shop, bar, or other location (like your home), can help to ease some of the tension you might be feeling.
Maybe you’ve got a favorite restaurant that you all could go eat at or a favorite park that you guys could have a picnic in. Wherever you choose to meet, make sure it is a place where you feel comfortable and secure so that you don’t end up having too many new (and stressful) things happening at one time!
Bring a Friend Along
Another way to help bring some comfort with you is to ask a friend of yours to tag along. I mean you’re meeting your partner’s friends, right? Who says that you can’t bring a friend of your own to the party?
Friends (especially our very good friends) have a way of really honing in on our feelings (for example, when we’re uncomfortable) and can provide a bit of a cushion to diffuse any uncomfortable air. However, it is important that even though you have a friend with you, you are not forgetting the point of this meeting — to get to know your partner’s friends. You don’t want to sit in a corner and only talk to the friend you brought along or you’ll come off as disinterested and rude to your partner’s friends.
Set Up a Safe Word with Your Partner
There’s no harm in being prepared, right? Even if you’re feeling pretty good about meeting your partner’s friends, things can get overwhelming rather quickly sometimes. So, have a chat with your partner before you guys go to (or even set up) the meeting to talk about an escape plan.
Alright, no this escape plan doesn’t necessarily need to have a safe word in it to tell your partner that it’s time to go. So, fear not, you don’t have to worry about trying to find a way to casually put “hot ice cream fudge sundae” into a sentence just to leave a little earlier than planned. The point is to come up with a plan to leave if you’re feeling too uncomfortable. Then, if you end up feeling overwhelmed or panicked at some point during the meeting, you know that you’ve got a way to escape that your partner will support.
Schedule Something for After the Meeting
This is a great way to help ensure you don’t get too overwhelmed when meeting your partner’s friends. By scheduling something after the get-together with your partner’s friends you are giving yourself a built-in escape. This prevents you from feeling trapped in a never-ending get-together so that you can focus on enjoying the time you will be spending with your partner‘s friends without feeling like you’ll be there all night.
Maybe schedule a movie or a dinner reservation for a specific time so that you know exactly how long you’ll be spending with your partner’s friends. This concrete amount of time can help ease some of the nervous feelings of getting stuck in an awkward situation forever.
You’re meeting new people here! Get to know them by asking them questions about their interests or things you just like to know about people. Maybe ask your partner a little bit about their friends before the meeting so you have some ideas of what types of things they might be passionate about or even some interests that you share.
Oftentimes, people like talking about themselves or things that interest them. You can use this to your advantage and keep the spotlight more on your partner’s friends rather than yourself by asking lots of questions and letting them talk.
Avoid the Spotlight
I know we said that a lot of people like talking about themselves, but if you’re meeting your partner’s friends for the first time it’s likely that you’d like to do just about anything to keep the conversation going anywhere but 20-questions about your entire life.
So, if you’re worried about keeping a conversation going and avoiding awkward silences or the conversation getting stuck on you, you could try meeting up in a less conventional way. Maybe go see a movie and then have a short chat afterward — this way you can focus your conversation on the movie rather than yourself.
Hey, if visualizing success works for business owners and football players, why wouldn’t it work for you? Taking the time to visualize the group get-together going well can help you be more confident when the time comes to actually get together.
So, maybe try visualizing everyone enjoying a laugh about something that happened earlier in the day or just a nice flowing conversation and your partner’s happy face that they’re getting to share you with other people who are important to them. Whatever you want to label as “success,” picture that and walk into that room with the confidence that you’ve already had a successful time meeting your partner’s friends.
Lay Off of the Alcohol
Alcohol or medications that are meant to calm anxiety can seem like a great idea if you’re feeling really nervous about meeting your partner’s friends. However, these “solutions” can cause you to appear disinterested or apathetic if you have too much, which can really how your partner’s friends see you and their first impressions.
We’ve all heard “fake it ‘till you make it.” Well, it turns out that in the case of smiling, it actually works. Smiling can not only improve your mood but also make the people around you more comfortable and happy as well — it’s a win-win! So, if you’re feeling nervous when you and your partner arrive at the coffee shop or other meeting location, don that disarming smile and get ready to meet some new people!
We know it sounds cheesy, but being yourself really is the best thing that you can do when meeting new people — including your partner’s friends.
People know how to tell the difference between actual interest and feigned interest. Just remember, you have nothing to prove to your partner’s friends. You are meeting them because your partner wants to introduce you to the other important people in their life — this means that your partner considers you one of these important people and that is enough for most friends. So, just go out, be yourself, and maybe you’ll make some new friends too!
Talk to a Therapist
Now, if you’ve already tried all of these tips and you’re still absolutely dreading the idea of meeting your partner’s friends, consider talking with a professional therapist. Therapists are trained to handle many types of anxieties and they can help you to establish more personal boundaries and methods for coping with this anxiety.
So, if your partner is wanting to introduce you to their friends and you’re feeling anxious about it, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow. You do not need to go through these feelings alone, we are here to help in any way you need.