It can make or break your relationship.
As Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., psychologist, friendship expert, and creator of The Friendship Blog, points out, friends are our chosen family. And just as we'd work to impress and befriend our in-laws, it's just as important to work to buddy up to our partner's pals.
"When your relationship with him becomes serious, you don't want him [or her] to lose meaningful friendships that have helped shape the person you've come to love," she explains. "Those friends will help make your life as a couple more interesting and intellectually stimulating. You'll also be able to count on them for support."
With that in mind, here are six easy ways to become BFF (or pretty darn close) with your partner's friends.
1. Discover their interests.
Levine suggests sleuthing out (or simply asking) what your partner's friends enjoy. "Many of their interests may dovetail with your own," she says, "and that will give you fodder for discussion and create opportunities for you to spend time together."
What's more, if you can share an activity together, you'll create a history you can reminisce over late, points out Jane Greer, Ph.D, relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.
2. Take note of their birthdays.
When it comes to their birthdays, do more than leave them a friendly message on Facebook. Go above and beyond, and really make a good impression, by giving each friend a gift on his or her birthday. When you do, says Greer, "they'll feel special to you as well as your partner."
3. Make them feel welcome in your home.
You may not want your partner's buddies over all the time. But when they are there, you do want them to be comfortable.
So, "if your partner was single and his friends were accustomed to coming over to hang out without calling, it might entail defining new boundaries that feel comfortable for you and your partner," says Levine. "That way, you'll avoid uncomfortable or awkward visits yet make them feel welcome and comfortable."
4. Give your partner license to have a regular guy's night out.
Just as you need a girl's night out, so does your partner need alone time with his friends. "There will be times when guys want to be together and talk about the old times or pursue activities that would hold little interest for you," says Levine. Your partner and his friends will appreciate you giving them that time without a fight.
Plus, there could be something in it for you, too, Levine says. "Your partner may even want to bounce ideas off his friends that will help strengthen his relationship with you," she says.
5. Add them to the invite list.
If you're having a get-together at your home with your BFFs, be sure to add your partner's friends to the guest list, too. "They'll appreciate being a part of your world, and they'll be able to meet your friends and family, if possible, so they get a full picture of your life," explains Greer.
Levine says you can extend the invitations to holidays, such as Friendsgiving or even a Christmastime occasion, too. "Shared traditions help strengthen friendships," she says.
6. Nurture friendships with their girlfriends and wives.
Extending your social circle past your partner's friends and onto their significant others means you'll be able to better enjoy group dates and get-togethers. "Yes, it can be complicated to maintain relationships as couples," says Levine. "It requires the meshing of multiple personalities, but these relationships can be especially enriching to couples."
This article was originally published at Brides. Reprinted with permission from the author.