Fix-Up Etiquette by Rachel Greenwald

Recycling isn’t just trendy and responsible – it’s practical. Author Rachel Greenwald explains why fixing up your fellow JDaters is a great way to get fixed up yourself.

If you’re dating after 40, you’re probably a veteran of “The Fix-Up.” Gone are the days of meeting singles on college campuses or bars. Instead, fix-ups — through friends, neighbors and even strangers — are often how one finds dates. But fix-ups are never simple because it’s not just about two people meeting; there’s always a third (and sometimes a fourth or fifth) person involved. And that’s where it gets tricky. What is the etiquette for handling the three situations below?

Fixing Up Someone Who Isn’t Right For You
A 48-year old female client told me about her recent dilemma. She met a nice man through JDate, but after their first dinner, she knew he wasn’t her Mr. Right. She did, however, think he had great potential for her girlfriend. After he emailed her to ask her out again, she wondered if it was possible to “recycle him” for her friend. Would this hurt his feelings? How could she phrase it delicately? Here’s what I told her:After their first dinner, she knew he wasn’t her Mr. Right. She did, however, think he had great potential for her girlfriend.

1. Yes, you’ll hurt his feelings, but probably only a little if your involvement with him was brief. If you deliver the message correctly, he should feel flattered that you think highly enough of him to make an introduction to your friend.

2. The key to pulling off this “recycling” venture is in the careful, step-by-step wording.

First, tell him that you genuinely enjoyed meeting him and mention something specific that really impressed you, i.e., “the way you handle your role as a single dad!” Next, let him know that even though you think he’s great, you don’t see any long-term potential as a couple. Finally, tell him that he’s such a great guy that you’d like to introduce him to a friend of yours. Briefly talk her up and explain why you think they’d get along well.

If he agrees to meet her, email your friend and tell her the situation. Explain that you didn’t feel enough chemistry with him and describe why you think he’s a good catch for her. Make sure it’s not only because he’s single and Jewish, but also because they would be well matched – you don’t want to waste their time. Make it clear that even if it’s not magical, she’s got nothing to lose by meeting him.

Why should you go to all this effort after one date that didn’t work out? Because whatever you call it (tikkun olam, mitzvah, karma, etc.), it will come back to you.

If You’re Fixed-Up on a Bad Date
No one ever complains about being set up on a successful date, but if a friend or relative gave out your number, and the date turned out to be awful, what’s the proper etiquette?

The advice I give to my clients is simple: during the bad date itself, continue to make an effort at conversation, even though you can’t wait to escape. Conclude the evening by thanking him sincerely. Even if he’s wrong for you, you don’t want him to complain to your friend later that you were rude in any way. Remember, there’s a third person (in spirit) at the dinner table: the person who fixed you up. Never embarrass a matchmaking friend by being a bad date yourself.

A few other tips while you’re on the blind date: come prepared with interesting stories or questions that will engage him in the event of an awkward silence, never gossip about your mutual friend and offer to split the bill for dinner if you don’t plan to see him again.

After the Fix-Up
The very next day, express your gratitude to your friend by phone or email. Remember that whether the date was a success or a bust, the set-up was well-intentioned. Matchmakers go out of their way to help others, so you must be gracious and appreciative. Even if one match fails, it doesn’t mean the next one won’t succeed.Matchmakers go out of their way to help others, so you must be gracious and appreciative. Even if one match fails, it doesn’t mean the next one won’t succeed.

But you’re not off the hook with a simple “thank you.” A matchmaker’s reward is usually in the details! If the date went well, tell your friend some basic reasons why: the restaurant you went to, the things you had in common, what you liked about his or her appearance. Protect your date’s privacy while still sharing your excitement. This will also set boundaries with your friend. If you continue dating, you won’t be expected to share all the intimate details of your relationship going forward.

If the date was a bust, sugarcoat your report to your friend. The raw truth will only create tension between all parties involved. Find something positive – however small – to say about the experience. Perhaps, “it was interesting to hear about his wine expertise” or “the restaurant he took me to was fantastic” or even “I liked that he was tall.” Your pleasant, upbeat tone will mitigate any damage that comes across in the bottom line – that you don’t want to go out with him again.

If pressed for reasons, carefully select words to tell her why he wasn’t right for you. Perhaps you can say, “I really need someone who makes me laugh, and for some reason, I just didn’t see his sense of humor last night.” This allows for the fact that she may think he’s hysterically funny, but you just didn’t see it. Plus, it gives her a better idea about what you’re looking for in a man. Despite her track record, the next man she introduces you to might be The One.

Whether you’re setting someone up, being set up, or reporting back from a set-up, it’s important to mind your manners. The end goal is to find love, and practicing effective etiquette can only lead to more introductions. Plus, if you turn out to be a great date, the ones who aren’t right for you may even fix you up with their friends.

Create unlimited goodwill and your social options will be unlimited as well.

Rachel Greenwald, author of Find a Husband After 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School (a NY Times Bestseller) is a dating expert featured on The Today Show, Oprah Magazine, Fortune Magazine, and People Magazine. She is also a Dating Coach and Matchmaker. Visit her website:
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