Relationships

Introducing your significant other to family and friends

Author: Canadian Living

Relationships

Introducing your significant other to family and friends

It's not uncommon for new couples to be so smitten that they just can't wait to show each other off to their respective friends and family. But since the opinions of those in your inner circle often act as the seal of approval (or alternatively, the kiss of death), there are a few things to consider before you bring these important people in your life together.

Professional dating coach Kira Sabin has several pointers to help you smoothly integrate the guy you're dating into your social life.

1. How soon is too soon?
It takes time for two people to get to know each other. And since people are often affected by the opinions and comments of others, it's important to really get to know your partner before you introduce him to others. You should trust your instincts and your own personal experiences with a new partner to form your own opinions about him -- you shouldn't be swayed by others.

Friends and family tend to offer unsolicited advice and opinions if they "know of" the person you're seeing. Therefore, you should "wait until you're feeling really comfortable together before introducing him to your loved ones," suggests Sabin. Another thing to consider: If there are children involved (for example, if you're introducing a new mate to your children), remember to keep the kids' best interests in mind. You want to be fairly certain of a future with this person before you add your children's feelings into the mix.

2. Outline off-limits topics in advance
There are some topics that might be taboo with various friends and family. It's important to give your new partner a run-down of anything he should avoid talking about, so as not to make your family or friends feel uncomfortable or put off. "It's so important because something that might be an off-the-cuff comment may be a topic that bruises someone's ego," says Sabin. "Giving someone a heads up in advance will help ensure that no one feels awkward or uncomfortable." Let your partner go into a situation with enough knowledge and confidence to win your friends and family over.

Page 1 of 2 -- Keep your partner and loved ones at ease by planning a casual activity they'll both like, plus learn more about handling introductions on page 2
3. Be considerate
Sabin's number one rule is: "Always set them up for success." This means that you should put your partner in comfortable situations, where he can thrive at what he does best. When making plans to introduce him to your friends, make sure it's an intimate setting and that he's just meeting a couple of friends at a time. Meeting new people can be very overwhelming, so Sabin recommends keeping it short, light and fun. "An activity is always a good idea. It takes the pressure off everyone, plus it helps create memories together."

4. Make things comfortable
Comfort is key in a first-time introduction scenario. The first meet-up should be casual, comfortable and have a time limit, says Sabin. Don't bring your new partner to a party or family dinner to meet your loved ones for the first time. It puts a lot of pressure on him, making the situation stiff and unnatural and somewhat of an interview process. Or worse, you'll be distracted and he'll end up sitting alone at the end of the table having to fend for himself.

5. Don't push it if he's not ready

There is nothing more frustrating than having friends and family constantly ask you when they can finally meet your mystery man. Especially when you want the exact same thing to happen -- but your partner says he's not ready. This situation can become hurtful because you can't help wondering why he doesn't want to meet them -- and on top of that you feel external pressure.

"Just like every other decision you're going to have to make together as a couple, make sure this is one that you're both comfortable with," says Sabin. It's important to communicate with your partner and openly share with him why meeting your family and friends means a lot to you. "Tell him you'll give him time to think about it and ask if you can talk about it again in a few weeks, because it means a lot to you, but you want him to feel comfortable," says Sabin. This way you have a timeline, helping you set boundaries. Make this a mutual decision.

The key thing to remember when you're introducing your partner to your family and friends for the first time is that it shouldn't be a chance encounter that could make any of the parties involved uncomfortable. Plan something casual and fun that has both a start and end time so that it doesn't drag on forever. Keeping all of these pointers in mind will make for a memorable first meet-up.

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