Do you know in your bones that your dorm mate from college would be the perfect match for your new co-worker? Do you have a couple of single friends who really, really, really want to meet your roommate and his buddies? Have you just always wanted to be the subject of the heartfelt, teary-eyed thank-yous at engagement parties and wedding toasts? Matchmaking for your friends can be extremely rewarding – or incredibly dangerous.
“The reason it doesn’t work is that friends know their friends too well,” says E. Jean Carroll, Tawkify co-founder, Elle advice columnist, and all around amazing lady. “A matchmaker only sees the most important things, which are what you look like and what your status is. A friend sees much deeper, so therefore a friend will put two people together who like canoeing. Canoeing is fun and you’ll end up with a nice friend. Forget the canoeing!”
Romantic compatibility isn’t about common interests or even common goals, it’s all about that spark. As an expert in the trade, the colorful and delightful E. Jean let us in on the secrets most matchmakers won’t admit to, “A matchmaker sees what Mother Nature sees. A matchmaker will lie to you, they’ll lie, lie, lie. They’ll say they see your Superman soul and all that. Bullshit. What they see is what you look like… It’s chemistry.”
So, before you set your brunch buddy up with your boyfriends new coworker, keep the chemistry in mind. To help you set-up your pals without destroying all of your relationships and everything you hold dear in the process, we asked the professional matchmakers of Elle Dating to give us their best tips.
Stop! Consider Your Own Motivations
First things first: make sure that trying to pair off your friends is a good idea. As the infinitely level-headed Boon A.K. Rhea recommends, “Before you offer to match-make for a friend, make a pot of tea and have a good think with yourself. Why do you want to do this? Does your friend really want this? Does the established interpersonal dynamic between the two of you allow for open, judgement-free communication? Are you really in it for the long haul?”
Consider Your Friends
It’s important to remember that matchmaking for your friends should be about your friends, and not what you think is best for them. As Boon tells us, “Banish your ideals! Instead, make sure anybody you set up with [your friend] is in possession of those qualities which [your friend] values in [him or herself].” If you find yourself trying to set your oldest pal up with a clone of your fiancé, take a step back.
Now that you are definitely going to matchmake for your friends, and not just match them, make sure your chosen people are interested in looking for love. Emily Ten Eyck advises that if you are going to arrange a date for a friend then you should “make sure they are open and putting their best self forward, physically and mentally.” Convincing a person to get out there before they’re ready won’t make for a fun date for anyone (including the person they’ll come crying to).
Is it hot in here? Or is it just the fiery burn of your white-hot desire for these two crazy kids to make it work? The number one sin amateur matchmakers commit is caring too much, creating completely impossible expectations for Instant Soulmates. Allie Sewell counsels, “Don’t put too much pressure on a first date,” and Tess L. concurs, saying, “Keep it very low pressure. This may or may not be the next love of their life and that is okay.” Boon explains that some situations are just too high stakes to work, “Beware setting her up with a relative (‘Ooooh, you’re going to love my little brother. He’s the coolest person in my life! I’m absolutely certain you’ll love him as much as I do!’). Keep both your expectations at zero; let yourselves be thrilled if and when she lights that spark.”
In all of your enthusiasm, check that you’re really listening. Your friend should feel comfortable, respected, and heard. Boon reminds us that our friends “must feel in control of the situation.” And don’t forget that they are your friends, not your clients! Boon says, “Avoid giving any coaching or tips. That could go wrong in a million different ways if it were to come from a friend rather than from a professional.”
Truly Blind Date
Most of the matchmakers we surveyed agreed: the best way to make a match is to let the match make itself! As Julia Armet told us, when two people know they’re being pushed together, it “tends to hinder the organic chemistry.” Rachel Featherstun expands on this excellent advice, recommending, “Get the two people together without even mentioning your intention of setting them up. For example, invite them both for a dinner party, or social gathering where other people will be there too.”
If your mission isn’t a complete secret, at least don’t give out too much information in advance. A wealth of information allows for too many ill-informed opinions and concerns, and could psych out your daters. So, don’t give your friend their prospect’s family dental history, or tell them that hilarious story from high school. As Kenneth Shaw, co-founder of Tawkify says, only “give them enticing pieces of information.”
With little more than a name, it’s easy to find out everything about a potential date, because computers, so mention as little as possible. Tess L. promises you’ll be more successful if you “don’t bother with the pictures. Send them out and have them fly by the seat of their pants.” And Carrie Parker tells us, “if you are a loyal friend, with a great person in mind for your bestie – for the love of all that is holy, give them a name that is not the one they use on social media. Save them from themselves.” (Emphasis ours, this is a massively important point.)
Never Forget: It’s All About Chemistry
At the end of the day, all you can really do is put two awesome people in the same place and hope they hit it off. As Renee Props confirmed, “people can look great together on paper, but until they meet and share some time with each other, one never knows if it will work. It really is all about Chemistry.”
Image via Elle.com