Making your debut as a couple at a party can be scary. It feels like everyone is staring at you, and you feel extra self-conscious — do you stay together the whole time? Should you split up? Is it okay to kiss? Follow these party etiquette guidelines and your first party as a couple will be a breeze.

1. Don’t Spend The Whole Night Glued Together
You came together, and you’ll leave together, so don’t be afraid to socialize with other party guests separately. Brief absences make the heart grow fonder, and there’s nothing more stomach butterfly-inducing than secretly catching your date’s eye across the room while you’re both making conversation with other people. (Plus: if you divide and conquer, there’s way more for you guys to talk about when you go over party gossip on the ride home.)

2. Check In Every 30 Minutes!
Even if you’re an independent couple that’s fine with separating at times while at the party, don’t abandon your date altogether. One of the biggest perks to having a significant other is having someone to rescue you from boring conversations, flirts, or awkwardness at parties, so check back every 30 minutes or so to make sure your S.O. is okay, etc.

3. At A Work Party
The point of accompanying a significant other to a work party is to provide support (and company!) for your date, make polite conversation with co-workers, and be generally charming. This is not the time to drink too much, engage in PDA, or to break out your party tricks. Even if the work event is fairly casual, as The Date, you should still try to err on the side of demureness.

If you’re bringing a date to a work event, make sure to brief him or her about the event, your job, who’s who, etc. Let him or her know that you might have to make small talk or network, but try not to abandon them for too long.

4. Introductions
If you’re officially dating, then obviously a simple “This is my girlfriend, Katie” works as far as intros go.

If you don’t feel comfortable introducing your date as your boyfriend or girlfriend, just stick to “This is Katie.” Most people will get the picture.

Whatever you do, don’t introduce the person you’ve been dating as “My friend, Katie.” or you might not have a date by the end of the night.

5. Exes
If you have any reason to believe that someone you were previously involved with is going to be at the party, you need to warn your current date so that they’re not caught unawares. You don’t have to make a big deal about it, but just give them a heads up.

If you’re introduced to your current date’s ex, just be polite and casual. Remember, whatever went on between this person and your ex has nothing to do with you, so no reason to act weird (even if the situation is uncomfortable.)

6. Avoid Any Public Displays Of…Anything
Unless you’re at a very specific kind of party with very close friends, it’s probably best to save the impassioned make-out session for after the party. But PDAs aren’t the only party-foul couples should be wary of: if, for whatever reason, you and your date start to argue and get in a fight, leave the party or agree to deal with it later. Watching a couple get in a huge blow-out is sometimes more awkward for guests than a drunken make-out session would be.

7. Decide On An Exit Strategy
A frequent problem couples encounter at parties is when one person wants to leave, and the other is having a great time and wants to stay: this is especially difficult for new couples who perhaps aren’t as used to reading the other person’s signals. Have a conversation before you get to the party about how long you think you’ll want to stay, so then you’ll have an idea of a time frame. Then you guys can meet and decide whether or not to stay longer, or to call it quits. It also helps to have some sort of a signal to use if one of you desperately wants to leave sooner.

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