Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The blind leading the blind

In any discussion of date selection, whether it's done by the person dating or by someone else, it's crucial that we all recognize one important fact: we have no idea what we're doing. I know of no happily married couple that experienced no serendipity in meeting and dating. I do not believe such a couple does or can exist. Since people want their friends to be happy, it's natural that they would want to help their friends to meet people they could be happy with.

But our desire to help, however sincere, does not always help our friends. In fact, many of us end up making things worse for our friends instead of making them better. I have a few suggestions that I hope will help.

Arranging dates for others

  • Get permission first. You mean well. You want your friend to be happy. Remember, though, that you're in a sensitive area. And never oblige people – when people go on a date out of a sense of obligation, it's virtually guaranteed to go poorly.
  • Consider carefully. You wouldn't be haphazard about your own choices regarding marriage, so don't imagine that your friends are. Think about your friends and what characteristics they possess that make them exceptional. Then think about what sort of person they'd be happiest with. Are the two people you have in mind actually likely to be well suited to each other? Or do you just happen to be fond of both of them?
  • Introductions are enough. Your friends need to make their own decisions. Offer to introduce them, but don't make any promises for them. "I'd like you to meet someone. Here is a little about her," or "I met a guy I think you might like. Would you like to hear a little more?" respects your friends' autonomy.
  • Be careful about information disclosure. Be careful what you say. Say nice things. Don't give contact information out without explicit permission. Be absolutely certain that what you say to either party, including all implications, is true. And be careful about the way you choose to communicate; information on social media is broadcast to the world. Even emails and text messages can be read by benevolent governments. These things may not concern you but they might concern your friends – and the content of these messages concerns them more than it does you.
  • Don't take offense. Sometimes people you introduce never go on a date. Sometimes they go on a date or two and it goes nowhere. The fact of the matter is that most dates don't lead to marriage or even to a relationship. It doesn't mean they don't like you or that they didn't try.

Going on arranged dates

  • You're not obliged. You never have to go on a date with anyone. If you feel unsafe, don't go. If you know it's not going anywhere, don't go. If the timing is bad, either don't go or postpone. Even if someone has made a promise on your behalf, you don't have to go. Anyone, even a beloved friend or family member, is out of line when speaking on your behalf without your permission.
  • Do a little homework. Sometimes your friends want you to meet someone but don't know what you're looking for. In many instances, you can tell by looking at a picture whether or not someone is your type. You may know based on a short description that you wouldn't work well with someone. You may even have a previous history with the person in question. A little research can save everyone time, money, and emotional energy.
  • Trust your friends. The person or people arranging the date care about you. They know you. Barring something obvious that prevents you from going on a date, go and meet someone. Most dates don't lead to relationships but many dates lead to friendships. That's worth a couple of hours and a few dollars.
  • Remember that your friends mean well. People set you up because they want you to be happy. In virtually every instance, the fact that your friend thought of you is a compliment. Whether you go on a date or not, be sure to thank your friend for the thought and the effort.