So it’s finally happened. You’ve met someone great. They’re smart, they’re attractive, they have a job — and they’re perfect for your needlessly picky friend. We’ve all been there, you have one friend who’d be great for another and you’re positive they’d hit it off. But setting them up is easier said than done, unlike a rom-com meet-cute on a busy subway platform or at a wedding reception.
I spoke to dating coach, Connell Barrett, about the ins and outs of the fix-up, and how to get yourself out of trouble if things don’t exactly go as planned.
Look at lifestyle factors
First things first, before you set anyone up, it’s important you consider what the prospective daters have in common. According to Barrett, when you’re setting up a friend, they’ll likely need to align with someone in five areas: age, sense of humour, career ambition, physical attractiveness, and politics.
No, they don’t have to be equal in any of these categories (not everyone wants to date their replica and we all have our preferences). It’s about taking an objective approach and figuring out if they could make a good couple. Can you imagine your friends holding hands or joking with one another? If so, you’re in luck.
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Of course, while they can match in most categories, everyone still has their dealbreakers, according to Barrett, who once set up two similar friends with different political beliefs.
“[My friend] said ‘I just can’t see myself with someone who voted for Donald Trump’ and they didn’t even talk about politics,” he said. “To me, that was a good reminder that if one of these big five is out of alignment, it’s very unlikely they’ll have a future together.”
So before you begin concocting your masterplan, make sure they actually have enough in common (and that their preferences in the upcoming election aren’t a dealbreaker).
Gauge their interest
So let’s say your friend is interested in another friend or acquaintance of yours. Or you’re adamant they’d like one another.
First, don’t frame a potential date as a set-up. “I would float the idea as ‘I have somebody who might be really good for you and who you might like. Is this something you’d be open to?’” Barrett said. “Very few people would say ‘No, thanks.’ You might be able to entice them in but dropping the handkerchief, so to speak.”
Gauge the other party’s interest, too. Ask them if they might be interested, without too much pressure. If they are, have them exchange numbers or connect them in some other way that doesn’t feel like they’re being put on the spot (a Facebook friend request is fine, albeit, not all that personal).
But what happens if this is a one-sided affair? Well, let them your friend know it’s nothing personal. As a Sex and the City episode once taught me, sometimes, it’s just better to lie, too.
Keep it low-key
So they’re interested and are setting up a date! Look at you, you evil mastermind. When your friend finally makes their move, whatever you do, don’t try to make the situation more pressure-filled than it needs to be.
Let them communicate on their own and don’t get involved more than necessary (besides answering the occasional nosy question). And just because you’re involved, don’t set your friend(s) up in a big group setting like a get-together where you’re invited, Barrett said.
“You don’t want to have them meet in a big event where there’s a bunch of other people because they’re going to be really self-conscious and feel all eyes on them,” he said. “It sounds good but it creates a lot of pressure.”
What’s the perfect first date? A quick coffee or glass of wine. It’s less pressure and the date can progress into another coffee or glass if they feel like it. So tell your friend(s) to keep it light, and slowly back out of the group text.
Support your friend
So the date stunk. Or not every party is interested. Or it’s just not their time! That’s ok, too. I’ve set up friends and it’s always awkward after the first date, especially with common acquaintances.
“You want to tell people it’s about chemistry,” Barrett said. “If one person does like the other, and the other’s just, not into him or her, that can feel really personal. That can feel like a judgment on your value and worth and that is very painful. That’s why dating sucks.”
So how should you respond? Well, tell your friend it’s not about them. It’s an issue of “fit” Barrett added. “Look at every date and positive action you take as a win-win. Every approach. Every flirty text. Every date you go on. Every right swipe. Everyone is a win-win. You want to fall in love with taking good action and not judge the result.”
And what if both friends aren’t interested? Well, that’s easy. You might not be able to be at the same party together, but sometimes, one connection can lead to another.
And if both parties are interested, well, you’ve struck matchmaker gold. Back out of the scenario, and have them send you a wedding invitation in a couple years for a job well done.