A friend can tell you a lot about a person. Nowhere is this more apparent than when you're getting to know someone romantically, whether you're a man or a woman looking for love.
Friends are people we choose to have close to us, unlike co-workers or family members, who, in their own ways, are typically imposed on us through mere coincidence. Friends reflect how we like to see ourselves. They enjoy our company. They know our quirks, and have learned to live with them. We are usually the best we can be in friends' eyes, admired, respected, and understood better by them than by anyone else we know.
So what do friends have to do with finding a mate? A great deal, if you know how to use them. A female Match.Com member recently sold me on the importance of meeting the friends of her prospective boyfriends: "If you go out with someone, you can learn a lot by seeing how they interact with their friends. If it is obvious that a guy's friends care about him, that's good--they know him better than you do. It also helps if you respect his friends and find them interesting." Of course, the same is true of women and their friends--you can tell a lot by how they interact.
So how does the friends barometer work? Below, I've outlined some benefits and drawbacks of using this friends tool.
Meeting 'The Friends' Is Great For:
Knowing you're important to your new mate. When you get introduced to the friends, it means either you've got great potential (yeah!), or you're a trophy (boo!)--you'll have to figure that out later. However, if you never get to meet the friends, then there are no friends or you aren't worthy of them. Time to say goodbye?
Seeing what he/she is like around others. This is especially important if you meet someone online--you get the chance to see how he or she stacks up socially with peers, not just one-on-one in email, over the phone, or at some back table in a restaurant.
Learning how your mate treats friends. Is he/she talkative, open, trusting, and happy? Sounds like you've found someone who knows what it takes to maintain close relationships. How your date treats her or his buddies could be a sign of things to come for you.
Meeting 'The Friends' Isn't So Useful When:
You really like your date, but could do without the friends. Knowing you don't get along with your lover's friends can be a real drag, not to mention stressful--they could be people you're going to be seeing a lot of.
You find the friends more interesting than your date. Do you cut your losses and move on, or continue the romance, waiting for the moment when you can go after the friend you've got your eye on? Could get ugly.
The friends always seem to be around. You could be just a minor blip in your mate's life, while the friends get most of the time and attention.
A friend hates you. If a friend persists in not liking you, you might have a situation where your mate is asked (or maybe forced) to choose between you. It has happened! You might as well forget the whole thing if more than three friends say you're no good.
The Limits of Friends
Meeting the friends isn't a tried and true way of telling whether you and your new mate will find bliss. It is only one of the many tools in the arsenal. If things don't go well when you meet them, don't despair. Just like any new introductions between people, things can be awkward. Friends can act like freaks when they're nervous with a newcomer in the room (you!). Or maybe they're insanely jealous that their friend finally found someone as wonderful as you.
On the other hand, the friends could adore you. In that case, you're in! Everyone likes you and you look better in your new mate's eyes--what more could you ask for?
So, if you're getting to know someone romantically, it's never too soon to go out and spend some time with friends as a group. Just think of all you could learn.
You can never have to many friends. Make new ones at Match.com!