There are a lot of introductions to make when a new relationship gets going. There’s your family: the folks who’ll always have your back. There’s your dog: whose instincts you should trust more than might think. Then there are your friends: the people who have seen it all (and have probably been there through it all too). Their opinions are pretty important when it comes to your new boo (and vice versa). So we checked in with Dave Bowden, author of Ready to Roar, about ways to introduce your S.O. to your buds in the best way possible. “I have firsthand experience with this myself,” he tells us. “I have a very close-knit group of friends who have known each other for more than a decade. Over the years, I’ve had to find a way to introduce them to a couple significant others (including my now-fiancée) and have met all of theirs.” Read on for the details on how to ace the intros between your new boo and your old BFFs.

Friends relax and chat in a back yard

1. Keep the group small. Intuitively, smaller groups are less overwhelming — especially when you’re bringing someone new (and important!) into the mix. “Avoid taking [your S.O.] as your date to a big event like a party or wedding, where they’ll be inundated with names and faces,” cautions Bowden. “Instead, opt for something smaller and more intimate: Invite three or four friends over for dinner or out for a drink.” That way, you’re keeping the crowd manageable while giving your S.O. and your friends a real shot at making a true connection.

2. Connect the dots beforehand. To help everyone gel, Bowden recommends taking a moment to consider things your S.O. has in common with your friends. Whether it’s career interests, family backgrounds, the college they attended, or even the fact that they both have dogs, chances are your boo shares something with your buddies. “A good friend of mine did this perfectly a few years back when he introduced me to his new girlfriend,” Bowden says. “I used to work in magazine publishing, so when he introduced us, he made sure to mention that she worked in book publishing. Before we knew it, we were off to the races, comparing notes on our various sides of the publishing world, and even though I had just met her, she quickly came to feel like an old friend.” If you aren’t sure what commonalities your bae has with your friends, start with the most important one: you!

3. Don’t hover. While it’s certainly worth your time to kick off conversations on the right foot, that doesn’t mean you have to be there to sustain all subsequent social contact. A great way to avoid this temptation is to plant the seeds ahead of time. “That way,” Boden explains, “when your friends inevitably find themselves chatting to your S.O. without you, they’ll have a few go-to conversation starters in their back pockets.”

4. Set your S.O. up for success. You’ve probably already told your besties all about your new boo, which will help them dive deep into great conversations from the start. However, you also need to make sure you don’t leave your S.O. high and dry when it comes to social intel. Before the meet-up with your friends, take some time to give them the lay of the land: Let them know who they’ll be meeting, what they might have in common with them, and any other info you think would be helpful in making their first interactions with your friends a smash hit.

How do you introduce a new boo to your besties? Let us know @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)