Let's say you recently got in a relationship with a one-of-a-kind person. They have a great job, treat you well, and make you happy. If you plan to be with this person for a while, you might want to become familiar with their friends. Besides you, your SO's besties are probably the closest relationships they have, aside from their own family. Of course, it's completely natural to feel anxious when you meet your partner's friends for the first time. You want to make a good impression and feel like part of the group. Plus, being friendly with your SO's buddies isn't just good for you, it's actually great for your romantic relationship, too.
"Becoming friends with your partner’s friends can strengthen your relationship and make the times you spend going out way more enjoyable. Plus, you want to be invited out when your SO goes out with their friends, right? If they like you, the more you will be included. More importantly, by making the effort to become friendly with your SO’s friends, you are showing your SO how much you care about them," says relationship etiquette expert Mara Opperman in an interview with Bustle over email.
No matter how long you've been in a relationship with someone, it's never a bad idea to become friendly with their buddies. Here are 11 ways to become closer with your partner's friends.
1. Find Commonality
People usually become friends because they feel like they've found commonality with another person: they both have an unhealthy obsession with corgis, or they share a similar family past. Either way, when you talk with your partner's friends, try to find common interests so you can create a close bond. "Even if you can't connect with them, try [to] really [talk and listen] to them. Ask them their likes/dislikes, favorite things to do, etc. Perhaps by learning more about the person, you will find something you can connect with," says Opperman.
2. Give Them Time To Warm Up
Some people need some time to warm up to others, so don't be offended if they don't seem interested right away. Ask your SO's friends a few questions and give them space when they need it, they will most likely appreciate your enthusiasm and want to hang out. "Also, give the person time to warm up. Maybe they are shy and hard to open up to," says Opperman.
3. Don't Stress Out
Whatever you do, don't freak out if you're not becoming #BFF4Lyfe with your partner's friends. You don't need to force the friendship. Just hang out, loosen up, and have a good time. "Make sure not to put pressure on yourself to be friends with your SO’s friends. It will come naturally," says Opperman.
4. Try To Envision Your SO's Friends As Your Own
While this may sound weird, envisioning your SO's friends as your own can help you act less shy around them. Pretend you've known them for years, and try to act like how you would around your own friends. "Try and imagine your SO’s friends as your own," says Opperman.
5. Ask Your SO About Their Friends
If you want to get to know your SO's friends, but don't know what topics to talk about, then it might be a good idea to ask your partner about their buddies. Inquire about their interests, what they do for a living, and their past. It's a good way to find commonality so you can start an easy conversation with their friends without it becoming awkward. "Ask you SO for some details about their friends. This can help you think of conversations to start with them and get you ready for the road to friendship," says Opperman.
6. Ask Questions
Let's be honest: people love to talk about themselves and love when people seem interested in their stories. Most likely, people will return the favor and want to get to know you, too. "When all else fails, ask your partner’s friends questions about themselves and their interests. You will find that people love to talk about themselves," says Opperman.
7. Hang Out In Small Groups
For some, large groups are a nightmare and one of the best ways to solve that issue is by hanging out with your partner and their friends in a small group setting. "One-on-ones are great for that. Go out with your SO and his/her friend — that small group tends to feel less overwhelming than meeting all of your SO's friends at once," says friendship expert Nicole Zangara in an interview with Bustle over email.
8. Do Activities Together
Opt for a more relaxing environment when you're getting to know your partner's friends. Go to an arcade, ride a bike, play hours of Cards Against Humanity. This can relieve some of the pressure, so you don't have a panic attack when you try to figure out what to talk about next. "Plan fun get-togethers — maybe go bowling together or play mini golf. Having an activity where everyone is a bit distracted helps lessen the intensity of meeting and getting to know everyone. Sitting across the table at a restaurant is [scarier] than all going to play pool together. The more casual the setting, the more relaxed everyone will be. This isn't an interrogation!" says Zangara.
9. Just Be Yourself
Even though you want to become closer with your partner's friends doesn't mean you need to change who you are to feel included in the group. They should like you for you, or because you love doughnuts... and everyone likes doughnuts. "Just be yourself. These people are humans just like you; try not to overthink the situation and just go with it," says Zangara.
10. Affirm Your Friendship
"Positivity is the first requirement of any friendship, meaning that we all need to feel better about ourselves and each other after time spent together. So become practiced at finding things to affirm about your SO’s friends — to your SO and to them directly. Thank them for the things they do for your SO (i.e. 'I know it meant a lot to John that you called last week to check on him'). Validate how much your SO likes them (i.e. 'I wish you could have seen the smile on Andy’s face when he got home from hanging out with you last week'). Tell them things you appreciate about them (i.e. 'I love that Sam has a friend like you in his life— thanks for always being such a positive person,')" says rounder of GirlFriendCircles.com Shasta Nelson in an interview with Bustle over email. While this might sound silly to do, this will make your SO's friends feel appreciated.
11. Be Open To Opportunities To Hang Out With Them
One of the best ways to become friendlier with your SO's buddies is to not hesitate when they want to hang out. Enjoy the moments you guys have together so you can learn more about each other and become closer. How else are you going to be the Leslie Knope to their Ann Perkins if you constantly say "no" when they ask to hang out? "Whether it’s offering to host a potluck party, agreeing to a weekend away with SO’s invited, or attending the big events of our SO’s friends — say yes! We don’t have to love [their] friends and want them to be our BFF’s, we simply need to appreciate what there is and know that because our SO likes these people, that is reason enough for us to want to get to know them, too" says Nelson.
Even though you don't have to become BFF with your SO's friends, it's never a bad idea to see why your partner loves their buddies so much. Try to make an effort to hang out with them. Soon you might hang with your partner's friends without them — you just never know!