Take a breath. Introducing your partner to your kids is understandably nerve-wracking, but it almost certainly will go better than you think! And by taking a few simple measures, you can ensure the introduction goes smoothly and naturally. That’s why today I’ve laid out 5 easy ways to make that happen.

1. Find the right time

Wait until you’ve been dating a while and you’re both sure this is going somewhere. It can be confusing and traumatic for children to bond with a grownup who then disappears, especially if their parent (your ex) did the same. A good rule of thumb is 6 months. And be slow. Remember, you may be head over heels, but your kids have zero attachment to your partner right now, and it’s going to take some time for them to form that relationship. Make the first meeting short, then build on that precedent.

2. Meet somewhere your children like

It’s important the introduction is made somewhere your kids are at ease, like the park. Or you could invite some friends over for a barbecue, and include your new partner among their number. A group setting can be less intense for children, and help them with the transition.

3. Start by introducing your partner as your ‘friend’

Depending on your kids’ age and maturity, you may be overcomplicating matters by trying to explain who this person really is. They may not understand ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’, let alone ‘partner’. And even if they do have a rudimentary grasp of dating, it may still be easier to start out with your partner as your ‘friend’ so they can get used to them being around.

4. Check in with your children

If you sense any unease in your kids, sit down to talk about it when you’re alone. It’s never worth damaging your relationship with your children for romance, even if you believe you’ve met The One. Apart from anything, making your relationship with your kids the best it can be will fortify their trust in you, and that will translate when you introduce your new partner into their lives.

5. Limit touch to begin with

It may have been some time since your children had any other significant adult in their lives. Perhaps you’ve been a single parent as long as they can remember. Moreover, their observations will be in accordance with their age and maturity, meaning visual cues (as opposed to what you say to them or to your partner in front of them) are likely to be their go-to for assessing this new social dynamic. Therefore it’s important not to be too physically intimate in front of your kids at the start. Limit hugs, cuddles and hand holding for the time being. And if your partner is going to stay over, be careful your kids don’t know until they’ve formed their own attachment.

Children are smart and discerning little creatures, often far more aware of what’s going on than we give them credit for! But equally, you probably don’t need to overthink the meeting or assume the worst-case scenario. You’re introducing the most important people in your life to someone incredibly important to you in a different way—and as long as you’re sensible and consistent and embrace your role as the glue adhering these new bonds, you’ll all be having fun in no time at all.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.