Setting up your friends is a hit-or-miss aﬀair – you think they might get along, but when the meet happens, things just fizzle. Why? Because matchmaking requires a strategy, says psychology professor Grace Park, who’s made six successful matches, with two tying the knot. She lets you in on her secrets.
You need credibility.
“If you want your friends to take you seriously, you’ve got to have street cred – that means you’re either in a long-term relationship or, better still, like me, you’re married.”
Build your database... and you’ll need a thick skin to do it.
“I love meeting and getting to know people. You need to put yourself out there. I get to know my husband’s friends, my friends’ friends and people at my workplace too. The question I always ask someone I’m meeting for the first time: ‘Are you married?’ That way, if they’re not, I can add them to the database in my head of all the single, eligible people I know.”
“It’s easier to help friends whom I consider to be well-adjusted and authentic. I believe that if you’re a happy person to begin with, you don’t expect other people to make you happy. It’s tough to help those with a lot of insecurities. They need to sort their own problems, before even thinking about pursuing a relationship.”
You’ll get more success if you are realistic.
“I start by asking my friends what they’re looking for in a partner, then run through my mental bank of candidates. I moderate their criteria to suit the reality of the situation. Of course, most women want to date a handsome guy. But if he’s very good-looking and my friend isn’t, I won’t pair them up. Research shows that an attractive person is likely to be drawn to someone who’s equally good-looking."
Do background checks, but be discreet about it.
“I rope in my husband or my married friends when I’m trying to suss out the compatibility of two people. For example, I’d get my husband to follow them on social media, which gives me access to their interests and personalities, and lets me know if they have partners. If there’s potential, I get him to strike up a conversation and casually suggest a date, which makes things seem more natural. Background checks also help me avoid awkward situations. I wanted to confirm that a particular guy was single, so I asked my husband to become friends with him on Facebook. It wasn’t long before we found photos of him... with his boyfriend.”
Orchestrate a natural encounter.
“At least two months go into a set-up to warm the two involved up to the idea, before a date actually happens. This involves the research, dropping hints, and then building the interest – so they’re both in each other’s consciousness. Once, I was trying to matchmake two people based in diﬀerent countries. It took six months. She mentioned she’d be flying to the city he lived in for work. That’s when I hinted to him that it’d be nice if he could show her around, then set up a time and place for them to meet.”
Diﬀerences can work.
“Studies show that the only things that need to align are a willingness to try new experiences and integrity. Be open to diﬀerences; they can be good. For instance, if one person is extroverted and the other, more introverted, they complement each other – because one talks more and the other listens. This applies to emotional stability too. If you freak out about everything and he doesn’t, then he can calm you down, and you can solve problems better together.”