I have a friend who is terrified of the idea of her friends meeting her new boyfriend. It’s the ritual we go through every time: she meets a guy, hangs out with the guy, starts to like the guy, then makes noises about wanting him to meet everyone. Those noises are usually accompanied by pointed words, oddly aimed specifically at me, to “be good.”

Whatever. I’m a delight to know.

Beyond the pressure of presentation, the big deal made of first meetings, why is there this underlying fear? It is the beginning dance of integrating a significant other into the world of the rest of your friends. You like your friends, you like your significant other, and you want the two to like each other. Fair enough. (It’s easy to see how dating within your circle of friends may seem like a simpler prospect in this regards. Yes, this is one hurdle it clears, though the true risk lies should things go bad. We’ve all seen friend circles get disbanded by incestuous dating and breaking up within it).

For some reason, the risk of a serious relationship presents quite the precipice for one to leap from regarding their friends. It’s a shame that one’s other single friends may distance themselves from you or outright cut you off since you can’t hang like you used to. Your significant other just wants to be liked and be accepted, but at the same time, they are learning about you by the people you call friends.

Like with meeting your parents or meeting your kids, meeting your friends has its own dynamic it is working through. The specific dynamic in this case is kind of like presenting their significant other to be group interviewed. Your friends are another screen. They are judging their character, judging how the two of you interact, and the chemistry of your relationship. Friends, like family, can check your thinking. You may have blind spots in regards to your significant other, or yourself (believe it or not, some people are prone to make bad decisions rather than risk being alone).

You can sometimes become so focused on the person, on having someone in your life, that it’s good that you have friends may be able to see something that you’ve missed. Some people are so close that they hear no other opinions, which doesn’t bode well for the long term health of the relationship. Friends are people who know you, who care about you, and want to see you happy.

Mind you, this is the ideal situation, so allow me to make the qualifications of sanity: If you have sane friends, friends who have you best interests at heart, you want their opinion. If you’re a sane couple, wanting to have the healthiest possible relationship, you want to integrate your friends as best as possible. Of course there will be friends who don’t play as nice with others as some of your other ones, and they may be some friend distance accrued as your social circle changes. This is natural, relationships change over time naturally.

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