In every meaningful relationship, there comes the time when you decide to introduce your special someone to those who know and love you best. Of course, the meeting that gets the most attention (and even its own movie trilogy) is meeting the parents, and rightfully so. But for guys, at least in my experience, a not-so-distant second is the introduction of a love interest to the buddies.
The truth is, I tend to be much more interested in how she’ll get along with the guys than in what my folks think. Why? Because my male friends are my peers, they have a better idea of what I’m looking for—a lot of them are looking for the same thing. And because they’re not my parents and are usually close by, they will likely meet any potential girlfriends earlier on in the relationship and can therefore help me in my evaluation process before there’s a serious level of commitment.
That said, the idea of meeting your new guy’s bros might be a little intimidating. But have no fear, ladies: Here are a few inside tips to help you ace the “meeting the buddies” test and further win your man’s heart.
01. Show interest in my friends (but not too much interest!).
Make an effort to learn their names, some background about our relationship, and what level of friendship we share. In the most basic sense, I want to be able to talk to a woman about my friends. But for those conversations to have any meaning, she needs to know who I’m talking about. When I introduce a guy friend for the first time, it would be great if she could remember his name (and ask to be reminded if she forgets), ask the token icebreaker questions, and show interest in learning about them—not just in getting the inside scoop on me.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that she should give my friends undue attention. She might think that they’re being genuinely friendly, and she's simply being nice, but while both might be true, it’s still important to be careful about gestures that could be left up to interpretation. When it comes to exchanging contact information, for example, instead of giving another guy her phone number, she could say, “I’d love to see that band! I’ll have Isaac give you my contact information.” Yes, they’re my friends, but let’s be honest: They’re still dudes. And in any case, signs of loyalty mean a lot to us even when there’s not necessarily a reason to be worried.
02. Be able to carry a conversation.
Ideally, once introductions have been made, my date will be able to carry the conversation to the point where I don’t feel the need to carry it myself. I have no intention of taking her to a gathering and leaving her out to dry, but it’s likely that I'll be pulled into another conversation or, if I’m hosting, may need to step away to mix a few drinks. In situations like this, I’m always impressed if she can handle the conversation without me constantly holding her hand.
03. Try to like them.
Most men have a few friends who don’t always play so well with others, but we love them all the same. In fact, one of the things I appreciate the most about certain friends is that they’re willing to say it like it is. I tend to think pretty highly of myself and my opinions, and for that reason I need someone who’s not afraid to tell me when I’m wrong. That said, it's probably not just a coincidence that those same friends sometimes make poor first impressions because they aren’t skilled in—or don’t care for—the niceties of small talk. It would be easy for a woman to dismiss them as “Isaac's jackass friends,” but I value their friendship and would hope that my girlfriend could do the same. So I appreciate it when a woman withholds judgment upon first meeting guys of this type. She doesn’t have to lie and tell me they're the greatest, but any effort to see the good in them will be appreciated.
04. Be open with them.
When people find out I’m interested in a woman, more often than not they’ll ask me what I like about her. So when I introduce her to them, that’s a perfect chance for her to demonstrate those qualities firsthand. Like it or not, when a guy brings a girl around his buddies for the first time, she's going to be the center of attention. By the end of the night, people will have an opinion of her, so what sort of opinion do you want them to have? That she didn’t really have much to say? That nothing about her really stood out? If you're worried that you'll end up talking too much about yourself, just be sure to ask similar questions of others in return. My friends will want to know what my new girlfriend is all about and why we make a good match. So tell them!
05. Respect long-standing relationships.
Understand that, fairly or unfairly, you are going to be perceived as a threat. We all know what it means when our best friend finds the love of his life: We’re being replaced. We’re probably not going to live together anymore, we won't be able to hang out in our underwear all the time, and we may not be able to count on a wingman every weekend. But we’re mostly OK with it. What we’re not OK with is losing a friend completely.
So what can you do? Set a good track record even before first meeting his friends. Ask him what nights he plans to spend time with his buddies, and encourage him to do so. I know I appreciate it when the woman I’m dating makes it a point to give me the space to hang out with my friends, and my buddies appreciate it, too. It doesn’t have to be every day, and you definitely don’t have to give him free reign to relive his bachelorhood every night. But let’s face it: If you don’t have kids together, what could you possibly need him for seven days and nights a week? Meanwhile, if your man has healthy, long-standing relationships with his buddies, that will only benefit your relationship.
06. Don't be afraid to get dolled up.
He may love to look at you in an old T-shirt and a pair of your favorite yoga pants, but—dumb guy thing or not—he also loves to show you off. Obviously, if I'm at the stage where I'm introducing a woman to my friends, I like more about her than just her appearance. But I've got to admit that there are a few things that give my heart a little extra flutter, and one of them is when my date puts forth a little effort to look her best around my buddies.
It may seem like a lot, but when it really comes down to it, there isn’t much you need to do to ace that first meeting. For most of my guy friends, it's a simple checklist: She's real (check), she's a nice person (check), and she isn’t going to destroy me or any of the preexisting relationships that I care about (check). Keeping that in mind, just relax, and above all, be yourself—if he's crazy about you, chances are his friends will be, too.