This is awkward. Why yes, we met on
December 23, 2014 9:03 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine wants me to meet a friend of hers at her Christmas party tonight. I think that she may be playing matchmaker. I have reason to believe that I may have been in touch with her friend on a few months back and it went nowhere. If this is the same person, what would be an appropriate reaction on my part if it's clear that she figures this out but doesn't say anything? I am supposing that this could be an awkward situation.

The two ladies in question are members of a small and tightly-knit immigrant community in our city and I happened to have lived several years in their home country. My friend finds my vocabulary, accent and mannerisms specific to her dialect to be a novelty. This is part of the reason she wants me to meet her friend. The friend may remember me because I had successfully used this novelty to get her attention and start the conversation. A few nice messages were traded back and forth. She went on vacation and a week or so later, she read the last message I sent, looked at my profile again and didn’t respond.

I suspect that our exchange was unique enough that if this is the same woman, she could be able to remember and “recognize” me after a brief chat. She could even figure it out before hand by speaking with our mutual friend. She may even remember my sort of unusual name. If this is the same woman and she remembers me, this could be a tiny little elephant in the room. Who knows? This coincidence could even be an icebreaker and we hit it off.

I don’t know that we really had much in common and the stars were not exactly aligned. The timing was bad, she lived far away, there were some lifestyle differences and I suspect that she had no lack of other suitors. There are no hard feelings or anything. It really didn’t surprise me that the conversation petered out. “Ya fue” is what she might say.

This woman shares the same first name as the one from and it’s not a terribly common name in her country, nor are many of her countrymen/women here in this city. Everybody knows everybody in this community and I have learned that the world is extremely small so it’s possible that our paths may cross.

I doubt that there is much etiquette in a situation like this. What would you do if you were in a situation like this?

posted by Che boludo! to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Graciousness, good humor, and a little honesty is all that's required. If she is the same person you can simply acknowledge it, "I think we chatted on a few months back, nice to meet you in person." and then go on to talk about other things like books, movies, music, jerks in Congress, etc...

If you don't make it a big deal, it won't be a big deal.
posted by brookeb at 9:07 AM on December 23, 2014 [61 favorites]

Seconding brookeb. This kind of thing happens with online dating these days. Just treat her like any other person you would want to get to know at a party, with a quick acknowledgement that you "met" previously, and moving on to more interesting topics.

The polite thing is to not dwell on or question her repeatedly on the fact that she didn't respond to your last message, for all of the perfectly valid explanations you've proposed (not that I'm saying you would do this. But THAT is how these interactions get awkward. Ask me how I know.).
posted by Paper rabies at 9:12 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

What would you do if you had encountered this person somewhere before in real life, and were reintroduced at this party? "Hi so-and-so, I think we've met before? Nice to meet you again."
posted by muddgirl at 9:12 AM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

If you meet her and she's cute, friendly, etc., chat with her as though you have a clean slate. If she brings it up, you can do the ol' "oh yes, I thought you seemed familiar!" and laugh about it.

Alternately, if things are going well and you're feeling comfortable after several minutes/hours of interaction (and maybe a drink or two), you can say in a jokey-confidential way, " you remember chatting on Match a while back? ha ha ha ha!" That should break the ice and show no hard feelings either way. The stakes are low! Have fun with it.
posted by magdalemon at 9:13 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah, it's only a big deal if you make it a big deal. And if you toss it off like "ha ha, funny coincidence, it's a small world, isn't it?" no big deal, it will be no big deal.

I know that it feels weird and awkward, but it's far from scandalous and awkward (my ex signing up for Match about two months after we broke up and being recommended that he write to ME probably beats that).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

If I read you correctly, you never actually met in person. In my own previous experience of online dating I learned, kind of to my surprise, that the connection you do or don't make with someone through messaging has pretty much nothing to do with the connection you may or may not make with them when you actually meet. First few go-rounds, I spent way too much time chatting people up online before meeting, and frequently what seemed like a really great budding relationship in messages would just go poof when we met in the real world. I learned to keep that part of it short and simple. A couple messages back and forth to filter out the evangelists and the axe murderers, then meet in person for something very low-risk like coffee pretty early on to see if you actually like each other.

I bring all this up to suggest that your previous online encounter doesn't even have any significance for whether you two will hit it off at the party. It means nothing whatsoever, and that's how I'd approach it. If it is her, don't even mention it, unless she brings it up. It's like a free do-over, and there aren't many of those in life.
posted by Naberius at 9:50 AM on December 23, 2014 [8 favorites]

what would be an appropriate reaction on my part if it's clear that she figures this out but doesn't say anything?

Hmm, if she doesn't say anything, I think... continue to not say anything, because although your awkwardness might be relieved by having it out in the open, hers might not (since she sort of declined the invitation to continue correspondence), and I guess the point of etiquette is to set others at ease.

If, on the other hand, you do actually hit it off, she may bring it up, then or at some future point, and it may turn out to be a funny twist in your shared story. But, until/unless that happens, leave it to her to decide, imo. (I'm just thinking of how I'd feel if I were in her shoes - I might prefer the polite fiction. YMMV, of course.)

I think that just by behaving normally and being casual and cool with her, you'd be showing rather than telling her that you're fine with the whole thing.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:51 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Since she broke off communication, no worries. Pleasant, not pushy or hostile. Not too tough.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:05 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

The primacy and unreliability of meeting someone through text communication in online-dating is its Achilles Heel and exactly why you don't need to worry about it leaking into your real life. A mere acknowledgement is fine, just let the other person bring it up and make small talk like you normally would. If they make it a topic, you can just "so how's your luck been?" kind of thing. You don't need to yell, "OMIGOD I TOTALLY MET YOU ON MATCH," and lay down a marker for the universe.
posted by rhizome at 10:06 AM on December 23, 2014

Yeah, people on dating sites let communication trail off for all kinds of reasons, no real need to feel weird about it. I once ran into a guy at a New Year's Eve party that I had previously chatted with on OKCupid but never actually met. It came up in conversation and we ended up kissing at midnight (and dated for maybe a couple of months after, not very seriously), so there wasn't anything embarrassing or awkward about it.
posted by psoas at 11:29 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

One thing I wouldn't do is say out loud or in public that you'd chatted on a dating site. Lots of us don't care, but I know other perfectly normal people who are HUMILIATED at the idea of being outed as an online dater. It's odd to me, but it's best to play it safe. This will be fine.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:40 AM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

I have a friend who was talking to a guy on Grindr of all places. They set a date, which the other guy cancelled at the last minute. Months later, they met in person at a party, totally by chance. They decided to try again - a year later, they're very happy and are now living together. It's become a funny part of their "how we met" story.

Not to say this will happen, but it's really not a big deal. Just be friendly and gracious. Don't bring it up unless she does. Neither of you have anything to feel embarrassed or awkward about!
posted by lunasol at 11:47 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Eh, who cares. Just interact with them like a person at a party, because that's what the situation calls for.

Unless you threw lambs blood on their front door or something, I think you'll find that there isn't really any hostility present.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:22 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

It could also be that the potential matchmaker knows all about Match. I wouldn't second guess this too much, but be prepared to either ask or answer the question, "have we met?" But if the matchmaker is in the know, she might also just save you the trouble by outing her friend ("I think you two were in contact on Match and it didn't go anywhere, but I still think you could hit it off.")

Don't read too much into it, just follow everybody's lead.
posted by fedward at 12:30 PM on December 23, 2014

I've been (more or less) the girl in your situation. The guy didn't bring it up, I didn't bring it up, and we're non-awkward acquaintances at the moment. I'm pretty sure it would have been really awkward if he had mentioned it in any way, so I'm pretty grateful he didn't. I can't really imagine that conversation going well ("so, are you that girl who never replied to me on that dating site?" "yep" "...alrighty. How about that weather?" "..."). I'm sure some people could manage to navigate that conversation, but it would definitely be uncomfortable for me, and I don't think I'm alone in that.

If she brings it up it's a different story, in that case she clearly doesn't care or would prefer to have it "in the open" for some reason. But otherwise I'd strongly suggest not mentioning it. If you're on the fence, you could feel her out with a "you look familiar, have we met?"

Also - don't write her off, or automatically assume she's written you off, based on how things went online. They can go very differently offline. The guy I'm dating now had an online profile that didn't interest me at all (not sure if he ever messaged me). We met playing sports and as it turns out, the impression I had gotten from his profile was pretty inaccurate both looks-wise and personality-wise, and most of the things I like about him weren't on his profile. So, another reason to treat this as a fresh start.
posted by randomnity at 1:54 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Heh, I've been in that situation, only it turned out that the person I meet online was the roommate of a man I'd just started dating, who I also met online. The first man and I had exchanged pictures and racy emails before we decided that maybe we weren't right for each other and I started dating his roommate (without knowing they were roommates) until I met him... That's when I found out he was married -- because that was also the moment I met his wife (also a roommate). Talk about awkward.

I think that the best thing to do in these situations is to smile and nod and act casual. I became friends with the guy's wife, we all hung out together for a good long time... and no one was ever the wiser. Unless, of course, your person brings it up (mine didn't, thank god), then it's all good.
posted by patheral at 3:49 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Take a chance. Who cares if it doesn't work.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:27 AM on December 24, 2014

Things happen on the net. I wouldn't worry.
posted by Jacen at 1:25 PM on December 24, 2014

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