Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Set Up Your Friends

Most women I've met like the idea of setting up the single men in their lives with the single girls in their lives. In other words, they like match-making. Mothers seem to love this more than most, presumably because it puts them back in touch with the romantic spark that is often dead in their own relationships. Perpetually single girls love this too, probably because having influence over someone else’s love life is the next best thing to having control over your own. But normal girls like it too, and this is understandable because it is only human to want to have an influence on other people's lives (it is human to want to have influence in general). In the same way that it is empowering to know that you were the one who got your friend the job that was the springboard for her career, it is empowering to know that you introduced her to the guy that finally gave her confidence in her dating life, or even the guy that she eventually married.

Now, let me preface what I am about to say by pointing out that setups are usually a bad idea. In the vast majority of cases, the very fact that your friend needs help finding love is a good indication that your attempt to help is going to fail. This is because the problem is never one of "just not having met the right person yet." It always runs deeper. Maybe she is insecure, or too introverted, or overweight. 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. It's like giving another book to a child with a learning disability, and thinking "this time he'll get it." Exactly. It isn't going to happen.

So with that background, let's take a look at what most people do when they try to set up their friends (because this blog is for women I am going to use the example of a girl, but guys make the same mistake). Once a girl sees a potential match in her social circle, she goes to the girl and guy separately, and tells each of them that she knows "someone that they have to meet." She might tell each person a few things about the other, maybe show them some photos, and she gets them to agree to the setup. Then she arranges some kind of event at which the two people have the opportunity to meet each other. She's "really good at this" because she never lets either person know that the other one knows it's a set up. That way it won't feel forced or awkward. Perfect, right? Wrong.

The problem isn't that the person thinks that the other knows about the setup. The problem is that the person themselves knows they are being set up. And they knew this the very moment the girl told them there was "someone that they had to meet." This does two things: first, it generates expectations and makes both parties feel like they have to perform, which of course results in an encounter more awkward than a new graduate's first job interview. More importantly, however, and what I want to point out here, is that it destroys the single most important thing for someone who struggles with their dating life: autonomy.

Let's look at this from a the guy's perspective...

One of the hallmarks of masculinity is self-control: men want to be in control of their lives, and by extension, they want to be in control of their dating lives. A man will never feel good about himself if he can't initiate and perpetuate his own relationships. (Remember that his inability to do so is the reason his friends want to set him up in the first place.) By setting a guy up, you are essentially stepping in and putting training wheels on his bike - reminding him that he cannot handle himself. Yes, it might be true that he rides poorly (or not at all) without those training wheels; but by taking control of his dating life you are making him feel like a child, and he won't respect himself for any girl he "gets" with your help. He also won't respect any girl that he needs help to meet, because men know instinctively that women are attracted to men who don't need help: men who are in control and confident with their own capabilities. In other words, he knows he can get a better girl if he gets his shit together and deals with his lack of options himself.

You might argue that without some initial help, a guy (or girl) will never date anyone at all. To use the bike analogy, you might argue that, yes, a guy might not respect himself for using training wheels, but without training wheels he will never learn how to ride. But this argument assumes that his problem is balance. In real terms, your insistence on setting him up assumes that his problem is meeting girls. But as I pointed out at the beginning, this is never the case. His problem isn't one of balance, it is the fear of crashing. His problem isn't one of meeting girls, it is the fear of rejection; and setups do nothing to help him overcome that fear.

There is a feminine perspective on this too. When it comes to match-making, the feminine problem is that a girl will not respect a man who needed the help of a friend (i.e. you) to meet and attract her. This isn't only a matter of judging the man's courage, or the social abilities needed to make a connection with her. Women know that if a man is motivated enough, he will dig down and find that courage, and make something happen - or at least he will try. You want a man who desires you enough to push through a crowd to meet you, or takes some kind of initiative. At very least, you want a guy who does more than accept dates that are handed to him because his friends think he has no other options. A girl who finds herself in a relationship that started that way won't respect him, won't respect the relationship, and won't respect herself. So deep down, girls doesn't like being set up any more than guys do. They might like being single even less, but they'll be even less enthusiastic still about being dumped once their boyfriends wake up, and realize that they are only with those girls because they never had the balls to go for what they really wanted.

I am sure many readers know people who have had successful relationships after being set up, some of which might have even lead to marriage. My parents were set up, and they've been married more than 30 years. Maybe you were set up and are still with your boyfriend. And that's fine. But it doesn't mean that those cases are ideal or likely, or that they do anything to strengthen the inner core of the relationship.

So what do you do? How do you help facilitate a match that you think has potential? Well, you let both the guy and the girl ride without training wheels. You encourage them to take control of their own dating lives, and then you let them do so. This doesn't mean that you can't set them up, but it does mean that you can't tell either of them you are setting them up. Here is what you do: you invite them both to whatever event you've organized, then you sit back and see if they connect. Nothing more, nothing less. If he doesn't take the initiative on his own, nothing happens, and that's OK - or at least, it isn't something you can correct by stepping in and facilitating the connection any more than you already have.

Of course, it isn't always the case that the person you are trying to set up has any problems dating or attracting the opposite sex. Maybe they have plenty of options, and you just happen to know someone who would be a great match for them. But in these cases, you won't need to do anything other than introduce the two people anyway; they will be perfectly fine on their own if there is an attraction, so the strategy is the same: introduce, step back, and let it happen. Nothing more.

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  1. Hello Andrew. This is my second comment. My first comment was a lot more heartfelt but it got erased so. I'd just like to thank you for taking the time to type out such candid reasonable blogs.

  2. I'd like to know how you can figure out what a man values - men, according to one of your posts, values women when she values herself, which shows most powerfully when she makes her boundaries very clear. So should the effort be spent figuring out why we are dating so that we know exactly what our boundaries are?

    Now, it looks hopeless - it seems that I do not really know if I want to date or not; like you said in another post, the fact that a girl her friends see as needing help setting up with a guy is indicative of a much deeper problem with the girl herself; I am surrounded by a lot of single girls in their late twenties, and I do enjoy and care a lot about their companionship. I feel that if my current situation continues, I will never find enough time to actually devote to a relationship with a man.

    I have a guy friend who showed some interest, he is an intelligent and handsome guy who happens to be socially awkward. I feel bad for him since I value friends a lot. I wonder though if it is best for both if I pretended nothing happened and maybe keep a lettuce leaf hanging in my teeth while talking to him to disgust him away so that he can feel happy about being my friend instead, or just starting to woo him so he can feel good about it temporarily -- but I have a feeling that he will demand a lot of keeping up by me and it can result in nothing after long years of waste. What's your take on this? Has this happened to you?

    (Now after writing all this I think we can both really afford to lose each other. I am probably the worst person to pursue among all the women on the earth due to my constant hesitation to respond. But I'd like to hear your opinion, anyway.)

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    1. "Likewise, a woman should want a man she knows wants her for who she is"

      Operative word - "should"

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  4. What's funny about setups to me is that people often set up their friends whose only commonality is that they are both single.

    "I am probably the worst person to pursue among all the women on the earth due to my constant hesitation to respond." Kristy, have you ever heard the phrase, "I wouldn't want to be part of any club that would have me as a member?" I know you asked for Andrew's response and I know that he'll get back to you at some point, but I thought I'd share my thoughts in case it helps. Don't date a guy because you feel bad for him. What you say about him tells me that you're not that interested in him and are trying to "people please." He'll know it and you won't be happy, so skip it. If you want to start dating, *make* time for it. It is easy and fun to hang out with friends, but romantic relationships give you something different than friendships do. If you want that, then get out of your comfort zone to pursue it. I think what's holding you back the most is your self-esteem. I don't know where that stems from, but since you talk about considering a guy you have almost no real interest in, it seems like you aren't getting approached a lot. Could be because you are so often surrounded by a horde of friends. I know the dating world is a freaking minefield, but Andrew's blog provides tons of very useful advice. I hope you take a look at all his posts.

  5. andrew: can l base a male character on you?
    l'm writting a story about a dude who's a player and is trying to find his soul mate, but he can't cuz of some reason l haven't thougt of yet, and then he meets this fucking weird women in an elevator, and she goes all tyler durden on him and makes him rethink all his life. that sort of stuff.
    i want to base my character on you cuz
    1st. l don't know you that well, i barely come to this site ever since l got a gf, which means that l can manipulate your personality as l please without feeling guilty;
    2nd you're the 1st player that l've known that is not a total asshole cuz 'hurr durrr l'm so honest and blunt, deal with it hurr durr'.

    so, do l have your permision to do this shit?

    and if you're wondering, l'm asking cuz l like the name 'andrew' and cuz he's going to have some things of your past, like the priest story and l'm thinking about making him really mad at the girl in the elevator cuz she doesn't know how to dress. don't worry, it's just going to be very vague things. and l'm thinking about giving him a military past, not sure. the thing is, l'm going to give him some traits and some problem that you probably don't have, and l don't want to offend you.

    so, answer me as soon as can, since l'm alredy writting it. thank you :)

    (it's just for devianart, it's not going in a newspaper or anything important)

  6. Hello, any insight Andrew and friends?

    I met a guy on tinder, and after the first date he sent me a text saying he enjoyed the evening. Then another saying he has deleted his profile. Why did he tell me he deleted his profile??

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  8. @Andrew

    I think it's the blog, Just Four Guys

  9. Hi Andrew,

    Dry humping question. I read a post about dry humping (virgin doing lots of OKC dating, weighing his options so forth and so on) and wanted to ask your advice. I went out with a guy and we dry humped a few times, but I am really trying to get him to commit to me by withholding sex. I am worried he is not going to commit without actual intercourse. Is dry humping good or bad? It feels unnatural because I fake orgasms. He might not know this, but it is impossible to orgasm from dry humping. Sexually he is clueless. Any tricks I can use to get him to commit? I do it to make him think he is turning me on. Is that bad?

    Thank you very much.

  10. The basic assumption on this blog is all wrong. When you talk about women, you talk about every woman. But when you talk about men, you really talk about this dream guy, that every woman wants; hansom, nice, funny, rich, smart, good body... And when we talk about him, you are absolutely right, woman needs to be as you describe to get him.


    How many men like that are there?!! I know they exist, but I have not personally met one. Most men are just as ordinary as most women, they have flaws, they have less than perfect body, they are not that rich or smart or funny or even nice. There are even men, who are desperate to get a woman, any woman!, but can't get anyone.

    So, all these advices, of how hard woman needs to work to get a man, are kind of ridiculous. Sure, if you want this perfect man, you do need to be young and beautiful and fit and wear high heels and all that. But to do all that to get some average man? Or even belove average man? Does someone really want to get married that desperately?

    I'm from a different culture(which also explains the language mistakes I make, sorry about them...) and women in my country are not that keen to get married. Most choose to be alone, if they can't get a good man. Maybe american women are willing to settle for less, I don't know, maybe all this sounds so ridiculous to me because of that. But the idea, that a woman has to be pretty much perfect to get just an ordinary guy, is incredibly chauvinistic.

    There are these men in my country too, who think that every woman should be perfect, while a man can be just himself. Most of them also seem to be virgins, funnily enough.

    I get what your trying to say (maybe, so far this has only made me so incredibly glad that I don't have to date american men! :D), but all of it is kind of irrelevant, because the "average man" that lives in this blog, is not the real life average man. You write well and you make some good points, but you really need to understand, that men are not that perfect either...

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