After months of bad first dates, failed pickups and more masturbation than a chimpanzee in a peep booth, you’ve met that special someone. She’s pretty and smart and, better yet, she has sex with you. There’s just one problem: Your friends hate her.

Being judged by the friends of your significant other is nothing new. Every couple has people around them who think their relationship is like a romantic movie starring Kate and Leonardo and others who think it needs to be hit with an iceberg and sunk. Finding out that your closest compadres hate your girlfriend or that her friends despise you can mess with your head worse than a trip to Supercuts. You worry that before long you and your gal will be like a couple of Amish who have been shunned from the big barn-raising and that your social calendar will dry up worse than Judge Judy’s privates.

Well, never fear, loyal reader! There are ways to make this unwinnable situation at least end in a tie. First of all, don’t rush things. Just like your girlfriend wanted you to take it slow when you were first trying to get into her drawers, your friends want you to take it slow when you’re trying to cram her into your group. A circle of friends is like a great martini: You need just the right amount of gin, vermouth and olives. If you suddenly throw some flat Mountain Dew into the mix, you’ll ruin the whole damn thing. Don’t dump her in the middle of a dynamic that took years to build. We all saw how that went with Yoko and the Beatles.

In fact, it’s usually a good thing if your friends don’t fall in love with your new girl right away. Your friends’ opinions are valuable. As friends, their job is to stop you from going down a slippery slope that can not only spoil your Friday night but also ruin the rest of your life.

If you and your new lady have made it to the steady-relationship phase and your friends still show signs of disliking her, you need to set up a casual, get-to-know-her reset. Invite her to hang with you and your boys at a place you all can enjoy, one that will put her in the best light, like a sporting event she actually knows something about—or will at least ask adorably naive questions about to entertain them.

If the boys still aren’t warming to her, turn it up a notch. You know the old saying “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”? Well, the way to get a pal to like your girlfriend is through his crotch. Your chick is bound to have some slutty female friends, so have her bring a few of them along to the next get-together your loser friends are throwing. Seven drunken hand jobs later, your grateful friends will make your gal commissioner of your fantasy league and captain of the softball team.

If, after all this, your buddies still hate your girl, don’t despair. Our government believes in the separation of church and state, so you should practice separation of friends and girlfriends. As much as you enjoy a Saturday of brunch and antiquing in a quaint country village, sometimes you need to go barhopping with your buds.

Now, what if the shoe is on the other foot? What if you get the feeling her friends don’t like you? You have to nip that right in the bud. The crucial time to win them over is immediately. Girls protect their own like a mother grizzly in the wild. If they think their friend is in danger, they’ll bare their teeth and maul you like Mama June eating a pulled-pork sandwich. They’ll start a nonstop Nancy Grace–style smear campaign against you, turning into private detectives and digging up dirt to discredit you. They’ll paint a picture of you uglier than a Honey Boo Boo family portrait. My point is: Get her friends on your side fast.

If you make every effort and it doesn’t happen, then you have no choice—they have to go! If not, like a horny cell mate on death row, they’ll be a pain in your ass until the end of time. Just give your woman an ultimatum. If she chooses her friends, you can rest assured she wasn’t “the one.” And if she chooses you, you’re in great shape because you just got rid of your worst critics.

In the end, if the person you’re with means enough to you, you’ll be willing to leave your friends behind, and she’ll do the same. On the bright side, this means you can find new friends—maybe even better, funnier and, most important, wealthier friends. Sure, it won’t be easy. But about halfway through the ride in your new best friend’s stretch limo on the way to your free front-row seats at the U2 concert, you’ll realize it was all for the best. •

Hey, guys, this will be my last column in Playboy for a while. It was a blast writing one of the articles you swear to your woman you buy the magazine for. Thanks for taking time out from staring at superhot naked broads to read me. See you again soon.