From Adam Fendelman
Your date tells you how he/she feels about you not only in words and actions but also by how much you’re brought into their world. And I don’t mean when photos of you two start appearing on Facebook. The most important vote of confidence that there might be a future is when you’re introduced to friends and family.
For the first couple weeks, your date might “hide” you from friends and family. That’s appropriate, too, because not every date deserves their attention and affection. If you brought every first date home to mom, she might misinterpret you career path and think you work at a bordello instead. Weed out the riffraff by selectively weeding people into your life and the lives of your loved ones.
The first few weeks of dating are for you two only. You’re figuring out if there’s a future. You’re learning conflict resolution. You’re seeing if the quirks about each other are tolerable or if they’re deal breakers. This isn’t the time to put your date up the “friends and family test”. You need to figure out if a future is there first before others even have a chance to care.
The one-month mark is often a major milestone in dating. What you initially thought you were excited about in week one might fizzle out or outright explode in your face by week four. But if things are going stronger than ever after the first month, you should be thinking about bringing your crush into your friends and family.
It’s common for your friends to meet your date before your family. For a friends meeting, keep it light and fun. Don’t build it up. You don’t want there to be too much pressure. It should feel natural. You don’t want your date feeling like he or she is on trial before a jury (even though they essentially are). You want to see if your date acts naturally with your friends just like he or she does with you. You want your friends to see the same chemistry you two have while in private.
After the first hangout with friends, take the feedback from them with a grain of salt. Listen, but make your own choices. Everyone will have their own opinion. The feedback from your friends is designed to be third-party advice and shouldn’t be considered the law of the land.
If your date passes the friends test swimmingly, then usher in your family. If this is happening before the first month, you’re probably doing it prematurely. If you’re at the three-month mark and this hasn’t happened, that’s a big red flag that you might be going nowhere fast.
Take the feedback from your parents and siblings quite seriously. They should know you better than anyone. They’ll objectively see through potential blinders you might have on and they’ll help you figure out if you’re a match or a bust.
From Rachel Canis
A date is a date. He or she isn’t a party buddy. That being said, it’s great to “field test” your date in case the occasion to make a social appearance pops up.
In an ideal situation, the two of you are socially compatible. Bad scenarios can include wandering eyes, jealousy, poor social skills, crazy exes, etc. It’s a small world. In Chicago, we all seem to dwell within a 10-mile radius. Like-minded people run in similar circles.
Your first few dates should be slightly off the beaten path (especially when you’re multiple dating). Gradually take the person to more familiar places, events, parties and gatherings so he or she can nonchalantly meet your friends. A double date is also a great way to show interest and slowly introduce someone.
After enough exposure, even the most introverted person should feel comfortable enough that group activities are natural. Hiding relationships and not accepting Facebook friendship is a telltale sign that someone is hiding something.
Meeting the family is another story. Once again, ease them into the relationship. If one single has a child, make it low key. Have the meeting at a park, dinner or a game so it’s short exposure.
At a certain point, it’s strange that the other person hasn’t met the child. The introduction should be a place where all parties are comfortable. As for parents and siblings, go with the easiest scenario. A family party is easier than a holiday. In general, relax and move at a pace where all parties feel comfortable and successful.
For more dating advice, contact Rachel Canis at Best Foot Forward.