dating

"As a single woman, I have a rather embarrassing request."

Excuse me, but I have a bone to pick with loved-up couples who have weird pet names for each other and celebrate bi-monthly anniversaries on social media.

Yesterday, while I was scrolling mindlessly through Tinder as though it were some sort of Millennial duty, I had an epiphany:

What the hell happened to setting your mates up?

In a post-dating-app world, the art of pairing two seemingly compatible single friends has been lost. When we’ve got thousands of ‘eligible’ men or women at our fingertips, it’s assumed we no longer need a leg up by the people who know us best. But guys. We do need a leg up (pls).

I. Hate. Tinder. Image via iStock.

Now, I'm going to tell you a story.

My cousin Rita was in a long term relationship with the man who she thought she'd marry. They moved to the other side of the world together and seemed blissfully happy. Until he broke up with her.

She was nearing 30, was absolutely heartbroken and felt like all her plans had been destroyed. Listening to her speak, I felt really hopeless.

But then I went to work the next day, which at the time was a Golf Club. I was working behind the bar when a golfer and friend of my manager ordered a beer.

Brendan was around the same age as my cousin and also single. He was funny, kind, and I'd always gotten along with him really well. So, I had what I'd call a genius idea.

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It took some convincing, but eventually Brendan and and Rita agreed to go on a date. And then they went on another date, and another.

Two years later, they have a baby boy and are engaged. But most importantly, they're really happy.

Why? Because I am bloody Cupid.

I cannot explain the satisfaction of knowing you made love happen. It's thrilling.

Help a single friend out here, people. Image: Alliance Française.

But I understand why friends might feel reluctant to 'intrude'. Theoretically, we can all get a date instantaneously. But that's just the paradox: too much choice has made it harder than ever to actually make one.

Add to that the reality that most of us who are single, don't really want to admit that we'd much rather be in a relationship. Admitting that we're not entirely happy with how our life currently looks is embarrassing. It can feel pathetic.

I think we've also fallen victim to some bad advice from magazines and crappy, pseudo-scientific dating manuals that insist setting someone up is most definitely a bad idea.

On his blog The Rules RevisitedAndrew Aitken writes about single women:

"The problem is never one of 'just not having met the right person yet'. It always runs deep... maybe she is insecure or too introverted... maybe she is trying to be masculine or makes herself unapproachable. Whatever the case, her inability to take charge of her own romantic life isn't merely a matter of bad luck; it is a symptom of a deeper problem, which your attempt to introduce her to someone new isn't doing anything to solve."

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Airken's argument is... how do I put this? Bullshit. Absolute bullshit.

Perhaps in rare circumstances there is a 'why' but most of the time there's not. Your single friend is not 'too' anything, nor is she lacking anything. She just 'is', and her dream dude might be sitting in your goddamn phone contacts, so be a pal and send a text.

Listen: What if I'm single and I really, really don't want to be? Mia Freedman, Monique Bowley and Jessie Stephens discuss. Post continues below. 

A friend told me recently that she found herself late at night typing into Google "Where am I meant to meet someone?" and that struck me as sad as it was true. When we go to bars or clubs or cafes, no one is there to pick up. They have an app for that, which one uses in the privacy of their own bedroom while wearing an ugly oversized t-shirt covered in Dorito residue.

But to hell with the apps. The biggest secret of the dating world is that most of us f*cking hate them; we just swipe because we feel like we don't have any other choice.

The second biggest secret is that none of us have any idea what we're doing.

So the death of the 'set up' is both everyone's fault and no one's fault. Or maybe it is a little bit Tinder's fault. But nonetheless, the process of dating can be lonely and terrifying, and currently we're being very much left to our own devices. Literally.

In a study conducted by Mic in 2015, it was found that 39 per cent of people met their partner through mutual friends. It continues to be, by far, the most common way to meet a significant other.

Most couples met their partner through mutual friends. Image via iStock.
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Our friends know our sense of humour, our ambitions, our values and our quirks. Most of my friends probably know me better than I know myself. They know exactly who I should avoid, and what mistakes I'm likely to make.

Now, I know it can be awkward. It's a risk. No one wants to be responsible for a bad match. BUT I found some killer advice for setting people up so now there's no excuse...

  • Always ask. Don't go setting people up without their permission. They're probably sleeping with someone on the side they haven't told you about, or seeing a dodgy ex boyfriend and are not in the place to be going on a fully fledged date just yet.
  • Match them on their sense of humour, relationship aspirations and what you know about their values. There's no point setting your girlfriend up who's after a relationship with a guy who is definitely, 100 per cent, not looking for anything serious at the moment.
  • After date one, your job should be pretty much done. Don't coerce either to meet up again, and only tell a friend their date is into them if they've explicitly said that. Try not to play the middle man too much.

It might seem like a risk, but ultimately that's just what dating is.

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