Lovehacker: Was It A Bad Idea To Set My Friends Up On A Date?

Lovehacker: Was It A Bad Idea To Set My Friends Up On A Date?
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Dear Lovehacker, I recently setup two of my friends (one of them asked me to) and it didn’t go well. At all. She said that he was too nerdy for her and he ended up getting friend zoned. This isn’t the first time I’ve failed at this so I’m feeling really weird about it. Should I stop setting up my friends? Thanks, Mismatch Maker.

Hey MM,

I laughed out loud at that pseudonym in the middle of the office. Well played.

Setting people up can be tricky — there are so many assumptions and expectations flying around. Having people place their trust and potential romantic future in your hands is a lot of pressure. I can understand why it might be tempting to give it up altogether.

A couple of your matchmaking attempts haven’t resulted in happily ever afters — so what? You haven’t failed at anything and it isn’t your fault. Plenty of people don’t progress past the first date, regardless of how they got there in the first place.

It often doesn’t take much to realise that someone isn’t the right fit or there’s no sexual attraction. It’s better that they shut it down right away, rather than forcing something that isn’t there.

This can be disappointing when you set up friends. You don’t want to inadvertently cause any hurt or discomfort. It’s even worse if you had gotten excited at the prospect of them dating.

You wouldn’t be the first to jump the gun in your own head — planning couples dinners and having a cheeky look at wine tasting tour prices. Don’t get ahead of yourself and remember that it’s about them, not you. Close the Groupon tab.

You may also be worried about getting the blame if things don’t work out. That’s a natural feeling, but you should discard it. They are adults and capable of their own decisions. Unless you forced them onto the bar stools, you haven’t done anything other than try to be a good friend.

In this case, someone asked you to set them up — as far as I’m concerned you’re exonerated of all guilt. If they blame you they’re crap humans.

Should you stop trying to set you friends up? Absolutely not — as long as you’re respectful about it.

The important thing is to ask permission. No one wants to turn up to a casual dinner, only to discover that they’re on a surprise faux double date. You may think that you’re being subtle, but you’re not. They know.

What if they don’t like each other? They’re stuck for the next two hours. And what if they do? You’ve robbed them of the opportunity to make a first impression on their own terms.

It’s important to remember that not everyone has to be or wants to be part of a couple.

I get it — when you’re in love you want everyone else to be too. But I’ve seen single friends hurt by couples constantly trying to set them up. Just stop and think about how offensive that may be to someone. It implies there is something wrong with them that you’re trying to fix.

Your choices don’t have to be theirs.

This mindset and behaviour also ignores the circumstances in their lives. There might be something going on that you’re unaware of, and you’re making it worse by forcing them into Wednesday night tapas with Johnno from Accounts.

Just be cool about it. If you think two people might hit it off — tell them and explain why.

And if you do see a spark between two of your mates, give them some space. I know it’s exciting but there are already so many question marks when it comes to a new relationship prospect. They’re already aware that people are talking about them. Don’t make it worse by adding pressure. Wait until they’re comfortable. Let them come to you with information and hangout plans.

Lovehacker is a weekly relationship and sex column where our resident Agony Aunt answers your questions. Need help? Drop a comment below or email [email protected].


  • Hilarious article.

    I remember one time someone set me up with a gorgeous woman who said she was interested in me. However, it was a failure because I don’t perform on expectation and my lack of immediate interest was a sign of rejection. It would have been better handled by letting things happen naturally. A group of friends get together. We mingle and like who we like.

    I have never tried to set friends up. I bring mixed groups together and stay out of anything else. I’ve brought a few people together this way by letting single friends make up their own minds with zero expectation and zero prompting.

    I don’t think you need to do anything more than create an opportunity. Nothing needs to be said to anyone. No pressure.

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