Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NEW! Spring 2011: Like Sisters

CHECK OUT ALL OF C MAGAZINE (lots of advice for sex, fashion, etc.) by clicking here!

Make her a match: Should you help the Really Decent Single People?

BY DENISE STEWART (originally published in C Magazine, Spring, 2011)

A social worker, a doctor, and an actor walk into a bar.

This is not a joke. You know these people. They’re single. What do you do? Play it safe, inviting them to parties, vicariously watching as your friends navigate the first impression jitters and awkward small talk? Or, do you plug completely into your inner Cupid and make a match?

My advice is simple: Know the difference between matchmaker and puppetmaster, connect with how you felt when you wanted to meet someone and, in the end, remember it’s all about love.

If you make a match, do it with the right intentions and know that you can’t control everything. In other words: Tread lightly and don’t overinvest. It’s not about you. I matchmade—once. It backfired. He really liked her and she, well…not so much. Our friendship took a hit because I inserted myself. There was some tension because, when it didn’t go past the first date, she was hesitant not only to reject him but also to feel like she was disappointing me. Dissecting it, I see the classic error on my part: I was trying to set her up with someone I wished I had dated—when I was 16!

“I know a lot of really decent single people who find themselves at a loss for companionship,” says Jack from my office. Sure, you don’t want to go matching up your friends with losers or misogynists or addicts. Single status does not alone make a catch. The good ones, though, they shouldn’t get away, should they? Don’t you know someone cool you could set them up with? You picture them alone at night by the space heater eating bagel bites right out of the toaster oven. They need you, don’t they?

If they need you, they’ll recruit you. It may go like this: “I want to meet somebody. I’m tired of just dating. I want to meet somebody who’s inter-ested in a long term relationship. I want a partner. I’m desperate. You have to help me find somebody!” You may hes-itate. “Whoa. Apply the practi-cal brakes. You probably want him/her to be tall and good-looking too, huh? How about rich with no baggage? You’ve got to lower your standards.” Then you watch your friend’s face melt. If you don’t believe that she can find the person of her dreams, then who will? Instead, be the sun: Radiate calm and encourage personal growth.

If you think your main qualification for matchmaking is that you yourself are matched then you need to think twice. Recall your own singlehood. What helped you the most? Maybe you don’t need to set up as much as you need to build up, to acknowledge that being connected to your single friends, their freedom, their vulnerability and their con-nection to your “in-a-relation-ship” status is healthy for both of you.

Still, helping people fall in love can be such a beautiful story. It can be well-plotted, satisfying, Shakespearean. Maybe you’ll make an introduction this week. Maybe you’ll ask someone out. Maybe you’ll stop med-dling and let the gods back in the machinery. Maybe you already know what to do.