Dating offers a handful of compatibility milestones once attraction and chemistry have been established: does he talk with his mouth full? Can she make you laugh in line at the DMV? And arguably most important: Do his/her friends like you, and vice-versa?
That is the subject of an Elite Daily post called “If His Friends Don’t Like You, You’re Probably Not Going to Last,” which posits, as expected, that meeting family and friends is a “big deal.” The accompanying video aims to (comically) aid young people in navigating this critical audition for moving things forward in the romance department, showing what it’s like when a woman is “real” (which apparently means offensive and prying) with her boyfriend’s friends. The friends don’t react well, and she considers ending it with her boyfriend, but doesn’t; when the two meet up again, he—twist!—dumps her.
Back in the post at Elite Daily, author Hannah Barbakoff concludes that being yourself may not be the best advice, after all. And although the advice published on Elite Daily tends to be, well, bad, I have to say, I don’t entirely disagree with this. Now, of course you should “be yourself” when meeting friends and family of significant others—but a very smoothed-over, slightly more polished, considered version. Trying to fundamentally change personas or significantly hold back your personality will almost always backfire; the nervous weirdness that often comes with trying to make people like you generally guarantees that they won’t.
But the more important question here: Does it really matter if your significant other’s friends like you? Or if your friends dislike who you’re dating? Well, it depends. All things being equal, yes, it’s best if everyone likes you, and that includes the friends of your significant other. Someone’s ability to get along with the people you care about most is a perfectly decent gauge of whether they get you. Your ability to get along with their friends is equally indicative. Plus, you want to be able to bring this person around to parties and weddings and weekend trips, don’t you?
But that said, let’s say their friends don’t love you, or the other way around—is it a death sentence to your relationship? It depends on a few factors:
Some people, it goes without saying, care enormously what other people think. Some people do not. Some friends bring dates around looking for a thumbs up, without which they cannot proceed. Others date who they like and expect that their friends, barring any serious red flags, will welcome that person simply because their friend has brought them around. You know which person you are. You also know which friend you are!
But I will say this: If you are the sort of friend who would ditch someone you like just because your friends don’t, you are a jerk. Likewise, if you offer unsolicited advice about your friends’ boyfriends and girlfriends and expect it to factor in whether they love that person, you are also a jerk.
Whether your friends approve of a date, or whether you are approved of by a date’s friends, is a huge deal for a lot of people in their twenties, mostly because in the college and post-college world of not-yet-married, no-kids office life, your friends are your life.
You hang out with them, talk over problems, take road trips, meet for lunch, go to shows, see movies. They know your business. Particularly for people who have roommates, or a large group of friends, bringing the person you date into the mix is likely inevitable and necessary. And if that person doesn’t pass the test? You may as well try dating someone who is allergic to your dog.
I could’ve never dated anyone in my twenties who couldn’t hang out in a music scene going or kill time at bars with my friends. I wouldn’t have known what to talk about, where to go, or what to do. This ended up getting old and was a very limiting way to meet people, but until that day came, it was a litmus test for compatibility whether I wanted it to be or not. And yet, it’s also worth noting that in a few short years everyone I knew paired off with whomever they wanted to and no one asked anyone whether that was OK. Everyone in your life will suddenly and instantaneously care approximately 70 percent less whether you pass the cool-with-their friends test.
That’s a good thing, because hopefully as you get older you will learn to trust your own opinions. Also, you’re about to embark on some serious life shit with a person you date in your thirties—it’s far more important they fit in with you first and make sense in your life. That becomes increasingly hard to find as it is, you can’t be passing out an approval checklist to your friends. What’s more, you may no longer even live in the same city as your closest friends. You may not see them that often if they are married or have young children. And then if you have children? Suddenly your closest friend might be a person who doesn’t annoy you too much, and who feeds their child the same way you do. Their opinion on your relationship won’t hold much sway.
I’ve hated my boyfriends’ friends before because they had poorly formed opinions, or were blowhards, or were sexist, or were super shallow, or were just immature. They’ve hated me because they thought I was a bitch. That’s still way different than disliking them because they are abusive or exploitative or liars. Those are examples of extreme instances in which it would behoove you to heed your friends’ advice.
But even if their reasons are mundane, I think it’s worth taking note of why a friend doesn’t like someone you’re dating. And if you find out a partner’s friends are, say, incredibly boring or super misogynistic, it can be a window into the person you thought you were falling for. If they think their friend is utterly miserable with you, it may help your significant other realize you are, in fact, not right for them.
Consider this information, but do not be controlled by it.
So yes, by all means, dating someone your friends dig, being dug by the friends of the person you date—that’s all well and good. But finding someone who your friends are over the moon about is as important as finding someone who’s favorite band is identical to yours: it’s nice, but you shouldn’t necessarily expect or need that kind of affirmation. After all, you’re a grown up now, you can choose a partner for yourself, can’t you? You can decide for yourself if it’s working out or not, can’t you?
Image via USA/Sex and the City.