The Fixup

Married friends, I just want you to know that I love you. Which is why I want to help you out. Not just MY married friends, but all married folks who are friends with single folks. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

So. Say you’ve got a couple friends you think would be great together, and you want to set them up. Here’s what happens ALL THE TIME. Married Mary comes to her friend Single Sue and says, “Would you be cool with a fixup?” Sue says sure, and Mary starts telling Sue all about Single Sam, her husband’s best friend since junior high who’s moving to town next month. Every time they get together, Mary extols Sam’s virtues, shows Sue pictures of him, tells her why she thinks they’d hit it off, and assures her she’s going to set them up. Meanwhile, Mary’s husband Gary says to Sam, “Hey, Mary’s got this friend she wants to set you up with.” And Sam says, “I dunno, man, my life is going to be so crazy in the next few months with moving and school and work and stuff. I’ll let you know once I get settled.” So Sam moves to town, gets busy with school and work, and two months later starts dating a girl from one of his classes. Sue, who’s been thinking about Sam this whole time (at Mary’s encouragement), is really disproportionately upset, and feels rejected and ugly and undesirable and all those things unmarried ladies often feel about themselves.

Do you see where this all went wrong? I hope you do. So I’ve got some advice about how to manage a fixup in a way that doesn’t end up with somebody mad or hurt.

First, KNOW YOUR DANG FRIENDS. You should know if your unmarried friends are cool with a fixup on general principle because that’s the kind of thing friends know about each other, right? You should also have a broad idea of their “type.” If your friend is really into, say, the preppy, classic all-American boy, it’s not a fantastic idea to set her up with your brooding tattoo artist friend. There are exceptions (like if your average-looking pal refuses to go out with anyone who doesn’t often get taken for Megan Fox, or if one of your bestie’s “standards” involves net worth), but be considerate. You have a type, everyone has a type. Respect the type.

Second, think minimalist. You want to give two great people a chance to see if they could potentially hit it off, not orchestrate a David O. Selznick-style epic romance starring your friends, complete with soaring violins and exquisite costumes. Accordingly, don’t daydream on their behalf, don’t paint them a picture of their future life with this person, and for heaven’s sake don’t exaggerate.

Third, go to HIM first, either the dude or as a couple (i.e., don’t just do this by yourself, married ladies; you need your husband’s help not to be a Yenta). And, again, keep it simple. Say something like, “Hey, my friend Sue is terrific and I think y’all would get along really well for reasons X, Y, and Z. I’d like to set you up. Here’s a picture; she seems like your type.” Then go to her and say something similar.

Fourth, get their input on the next step if they both say sure. Would he prefer to just ask her out? Or ask her out after you’ve introduced them? Or would it be less pressure to have some kind of social event be the first meeting? Or to have pizza and cards at your house, the four of you, some Tuesday night? Or go the Facebook route? Leave it up to them. And then…

Fifth, BACK. OFF.

OK, married folks, go forth and set up your friends! 😉


3 thoughts on “The Fixup

  1. Seems to me “Married Mary” upped the stakes way too early; scaring Sam away, and making implied promises to Sue that couldn’t be kept.

    Ironically, in a situation like you describe, Sam might well have been receptive to “Mary’s got this friend who can help show you the really good places to shop,” And Sue might have found “There’s this guy called Sam who needs help settling in” a less stressful introduction. Fixups can be subtle. As you say, think minimalist.

    To this excellent post, I can only add, as a comment to single guys and gals: there are other people in the same boat. If Single Sue finds Sam’s interest in video games unappealing, she can always steer him towards Unattached Una, who likes that sort of thing. Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.

  2. Yes, fixups can be subtle but I think there can be something creepy/passive-aggressive about those kind of “we all know they’re trying to fix us up but no one’s going to SAY it” situations. I think it’s better all around to treat all parties as adults and put the potential fixup out in the open.

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