Movies and TV shows are full of humorous tales about the well-meaning matchmaker with a compulsion to help single friends find their way to blissful couplehood. In most of these shows, the matchmaker is misguided, the matches a disaster, and it all makes for highly entertaining comedy. In real life, however, friends can be an excellent source of people to meet, if you clearly state what you are looking for. But you have to know how to "work" your pals if you're going to get the results you want. Here are some pointers:
• Come right out and ask them. Don't just beat around the bush, sighing wistfully that you wish you could meet someone. Ask a friend if he or she knows anyone who's suitable for you to go out with.
• Be specific. Don't assume your friend knows what sort of person you want to date. You don't have to write out a shopping list, but you should specify the major qualities you're looking for (or want to avoid). If you feel strongly that you don't want to go out with a smoker, for example, or you desire to date only people who are 45 or older, let your friend know at the outset.
• Let them know you're serious. The best way to let them know is to say it—"I'm really serious about this. I don't want to go out to bars and clubs, and I don't want to get into doing personal ads either. I trust your judgment, and I hope you'll help me out here."
Relationships take time, patience, and cbrity to develop. It's not easy to ward off impatience, but you need to make an eflfort to do so.
• If you feel so inclined, offer them an incentive. Book clubs and video clubs do it all the time; they give you free merchandise if you sign up a friend. Similarly, you can offer your friend some sort of incentive if he finds a suitable date for you. I'm not suggesting you approach dating as a business transaction, but you might offer to do a friend a favor if she comes up with the goods—cook her a gourmet dinner, baby-sit her dog while she goes away for a weekend, or help her install that new graphics software in her computer. Or, hey, you could always try cash. Don't laugh; I've had friends and clients who have done this, and their friends have come up with some great matches for them. If nothing else, that offer of green stuff lets your friend know you're really serious about finding a suitable date.
• Thank them for their efforts. Once your friend starts fixing you up, be sure to say thank you and to make good on any favors you've promised. If things don't work out with your date(s), don't be too hard on your pal. He or she probably gave it a good shot, and besides, one true friend is more valuable than all the would-be dates in the world.
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