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Date & Relate
by Sara Hodon

How to Survive a Set-Up
(and Keep the Peace with Your Matchmaker Afterwards)

I think it’s safe to say that I’m a battle-scarred veteran of online dating.   Though I’ve had a few hits, there have been a whole lot of misses.  It would be nice to meet someone in person and feel that instant “click”, but I’m not that lucky.   A few months ago, I decided to cancel my subscriptions to the sites because I’d had some bad experiences.   All of a sudden it seemed that everyone I knew had someone they wanted to fix me up with.  I consider myself to be a good sport, and I figured that a set-up is a pretty safe bet (because your friend or relative can vouch for your date), so I said okay.

Set-ups can be tricky.   Your well-meaning matchmaker—friend, relative, whomever—obviously thinks you and your date have something in common, but there are times when you can’t help but scratch your head and think “Does  (insert matchmaker’s name here) know me at all?”   


It’s good to keep a few things in mind before you agree to be set up.   Below are some tips for avoiding an awkward date and keeping the peace with your matchmaker:

Know what qualities you’re looking for. 
Your friends and family mean well and they want to see you happy, but let’s face it—sometimes their good intentions are way off the mark.  Though you shouldn’t limit yourself to a single “type” when it comes to dating, it’s good to have some basic criteria that your potential matchmakers can work with.    Give them your “must haves”— sense of humor, religious beliefs or a commitment to family that is similar to yours—and let them go from there.   It’s a bit trickier with a relative, depending on which relative is doing the matchmaking.   It’s sometimes hard to get out of a date with your dad’s lawyer’s son or daughter, or your grandma’s bingo partner’s nephew.    In those cases, it’s best to just go on the date, be gracious, and hope for the best.  You might surprise yourself and have fun!

Be open. 
You know exactly what you’re looking for—or do you?  You may tell yourself that you won’t accept anything else besides your “type”, but maybe your others see something in you that you don’t.   You may have only dated long-haired, wild rocker types, but struck out over and over again.   Suddenly your friend tells you that she has a single friend she’d love to set you up with—a conservative, button-down type.  You might not be into it at first, but go anyway.  You might be attracted to their witty sense of humor or their passion for a cause they strongly believe in. 

If possible, speak to your date ahead of time.   
Blind dates can be nerve-wracking.  In order to help you feel more comfortable, try to speak to your date at least once before you actually meet.   Your date will probably appreciate a chance to get to know you a little bit, as well. 

Set up a casual night out with a group of friends.  If you are being set up by a mutual friend and have a few other people in common, why not plan a low-key outing with the gang?  This takes a lot of the pressure off of the both of you.   You can get to know each other, but if there doesn’t seem to be a “spark”, there will still be other people there to talk to.    Plan to have dinner at a restaurant your group hasn’t tried, or meet up for a fun activity like bowling, dancing, or miniature golf.

Be honest.  If you and your date hit it off, great!  Make sure to give your matchmaker a full report (well, as much as you feel comfortable sharing, anyway) and thank them.  But if the date doesn’t go so well, be honest about that, too.  Don’t feel that you need to keep seeing the other person for your friend’s sake.  Tell your date how you feel.  You may feel a connection with them at first, but realize after a few dates that there wasn’t much of chemistry there after all.  Don’t put off telling them how you feel longer than necessary, and be just as up front with the person who set you up.   In the end, both your date and your matchmaker will appreciate your honesty. 

Don’t hold a grudge against your matchmaker.  If there are truly no sparks, don’t hold it against your matchmaker.  We all have those well-meaning friends who are constantly on the lookout for people to match (I know I do).  Even if their track record isn’t spotless, don’t hold it against them.  They’re only trying to look out for you, and they do have your best interests at heart.  They have their reasons for thinking you and the other person will hit it off, so don’t turn them down next time (even if it’s the fourth or fifth “next time”).    Don’t rule out letting them set you up again in the future.


Date & Relate is published every Thursday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Sara Hodon.

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