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August 15, 2007 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Help me help my 30 year-old friend get a date or something.

So my friend of many years is kinda worrying me. She's never dated, or had a boyfriend. She says she'd like to have a boyfriend, but hell, I've never even seen her flirt.

She's a movie/entertainment buff, not hideous in the looks department, and not really into clubbing. Which is funny, because she can dance (and sing). She's definitely a homebody.

What activities and what not can I get her interested in so that she can be exposed to the possibility of men who might take an interest in her?

PS She's pretty dead-set against being set-up or online dating.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Not your responsibility unless she asked for your help.
posted by k8t at 1:12 PM on August 15, 2007 [4 favorites]

posted by anonymous She's pretty dead-set against being set-up or online dating.

Then don't set her up on a date. Butt out. She doesn't need or want your help. Stop worrying about her love life--it's none of your business.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:15 PM on August 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

Your friend is an adult. Her choices are not your business.
posted by amro at 1:17 PM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

If the adjective "not hideous" is the best you can do for her, then she will probably need a lot of help to be honest. Aside from people jumping all over you to butt out since for some reason someone thinks that online dating is weird or dare I say creepy I would suggest just getting out and doing things with her. Trick her into being social and doing things with other people, chemistry has a way of developing when you don't try and force it. Also some people are content to be by themselves, but in this case I think she needs her hand held in the shallow end of the gene pool before she dives in.
posted by BobbyDigital at 1:19 PM on August 15, 2007

I agree with everyone who says it's really not your job to find her a man (even if she asks you to, but definitely not until she does). However, if she seems to be expressing loneliness and you'd like to help her expand her social circle, there are lots of how to meet people threads. They mostly touch on things like: volunteering, going to events at museums, joining activity groups (like bicycle clubs). I would suggest that when you are doing something she might enjoy, invite her and other (single) people you know. Introducing your friends to your other friends is a nice way to expand everyone's social horizons.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:23 PM on August 15, 2007

Sounds to me like the lack of flirtation is the real problem here. If she's got a good personality, easily-relateable interests and looks fine, then she probably has encountered suitable dating prospects throughout her work and college life. So the real issue is probably that she isn't letting them know she's single.

I have a friend exactly like yours, except she's 32, and the older we get, the biggest problem is that she's losing single female friends to go out with. Once coupled, most single girls lose interest in chatting with random guys at the back of a small band's show, film screening or bar trivia night. Once coupled, many girls won't/can't go out on Fridays or Saturdays anymore. So if you can get together with her and one or two other single girls, you could go anywhere and end up meeting guys, especially on meet-market nights.
posted by xo at 1:24 PM on August 15, 2007

If she didn't ask you to get her a date, you shouldn't get her a date. Especially because if you did try to set her up with someone, she might act poorly, and then you look stupid to the person you set her up with (who will never trust you again). Save your strength for people who are interested.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:25 PM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Before you do anything else, you need to talk to this woman. Maybe she's perfectly happy with the way things are. Maybe she spends every night weeping in quiet desperation. Who knows?

...but when I say "talk to her first" I do NOT mean corner her at the next party. Be sincere, respect her privacy, and ask her sometime when there's no chance you'll be overheard, and sufficient time to answer fully. People answer things differently when there's a crowd -- which is obvious, I know, but so many people pick the fucking worst times to bring up sensitive topics!
posted by aramaic at 1:32 PM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

First, a lot of people are right - it's not your job. But if she asked you, here are my ideas:

- smallish movie fests
- movie screening parties with like-minded friends
- if she likes to read, then hang out at the bookstore, go to signings, etc.
- if she likes to cook, then try one of those cooking classes I hear so much about. They're tailor-made for adults who hate club music, they give you wine and they let you handle an open flame. How much fun is that?
- if she's interested in art of any type, how about a night class at a local college? I know many adults who actually do this for fun.
- be more outgoing and smile - anywhere and everywhere. She will get noticed, regardless of her looks, if she is friendly. Friendly people are more approachable. Smiling is barely flirting, but it lets other people know that you want to talk.

Most of all, I think she needs to do things away from home whether or not she's trying to find her perfect someone. Tell her to go to museums, parks, the zoo, anywhere other than her house at least once a week. She's not going to meet anyone sitting at home, and the more she interacts with other people, the more she'll feel like being around other people.

Even if she didn't ask you for advice, it wouldn't hurt to invite her out to places more suited to her personality. I am a confirmed homebody, and in my pre-dating and marriage days, had no idea how to start.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 1:33 PM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree it's not your place. Not everyone wants to date. Whattya gunna do.

However, why not have a frank conversation with her. "You know, I've never seen you take interest in dating. Do you feel like you're missing something? Do you want to date, or are you content like you are?" If she says she is content, then lay off. If she says she might want to date, but doesn't know how, then offer help. By all means, do not try to trick her, or you risk losing your friend. Don't assume you know what's best for someone else.
posted by The Deej at 1:33 PM on August 15, 2007

What activities and what not can I get her interested in so that she can be exposed to the possibility of men who might take an interest in her?

Karaoke. Find a karaoke place that has something on a weeknight, and invite her out to it, the same time every week. Lots of people go to karaoke on a regular schedule. Some of them are guys, and she could meet them.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:36 PM on August 15, 2007

I have a friend like this, who constantly bitches about being single, but doesn't do anything about it and basically shoots down all interested parties from 1,000 yards while simultaneously developing interest in guys who are unattainable (distance, disinterest, any number of reasons). Having tried to help her with this, I would say my experience is that even if she seems like she wants help, or says she wants to be setup, there is a strong possibility that this is a losing game.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:48 PM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Is she straight? I have a guy friend who's 28 and in a similar situation. He's against being set up too, but maybe you & I can conspire to have them "accidentally" meet and fall in love. It could be really romantic. Does she like video games? He really likes video games.
posted by catfood at 1:50 PM on August 15, 2007

Not your responsibility unless she asked for your help.

Then don't set her up on a date. Butt out. She doesn't need or want your help. Stop worrying about her love life--it's none of your business.

Your friend is an adult. Her choices are not your business.

If she didn't ask you to get her a date, you shouldn't get her a date.

Um, I disagree. If we only did things for people when they asked for them, then we wouldn't really have a lot of goodness in the world. It seems pretty obvious to me the poster truly cares about his/her friend and thinks that finding her a date will make her happy. Where is the problem exactly?

That said, the key is the approach. There are some good ideas in this thread already, namely what mitzyjalapeno wrote. Obviously, don't trick her, don't force anything on her, that sort of thing. The fact that she didn't ask you makes a difference, but it does NOT mean you should simply butt out. Invite her to small, casual events, that sort of thing.

The question was not "should I help my friend?" It was "what are the ways in which I can get my friend a date?"
posted by ORthey at 1:53 PM on August 15, 2007

Oh, and course, it might fail miserably. But shit, at least try!
posted by ORthey at 1:53 PM on August 15, 2007

She's a movie/entertainment buff

Join a film society/discussion circle and then invite her along.

Don't talk to her about it and don't invest yourself in finding her some man, that's her job. But hey, if you can arrange to have her attend places where men who are interested in similar things meet, then go for it. Just don't expect sparks to happen and don't push her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:58 PM on August 15, 2007

take her to a meetup.
posted by Stynxno at 2:01 PM on August 15, 2007

I don't know of any instances personally where someone had a successful relationship with some they were fixed up with. Chemistry either happens or it doesn't. The best way for her to meet someone to date is obviously to put herself into proximity of as many eligible bachelors as she can. Perhaps a singles club, or dancing school or regular school. Maybe you could go with her so she will not feel so awkward.
posted by caddis at 2:05 PM on August 15, 2007

Before this thread goes thermonuclear, let's assume the poster is going to do something with the friend's consent and full knowledge of purpose the activities.

"What sort of activities" seems to be the main question.

I second meetup. And perhaps some sort of film club that's attached to the local film arthouse ?
posted by eurasian at 2:11 PM on August 15, 2007

Does she actually have available male friends? (Or female friends who are lesbians, if she's a lesbian?) If yes, then there's really nothing you can do, the opportunity is already there.

If no, then you should invite her on group outings when you also invite some of your other single friends. Don't make it a date, don't expect them to click, just provide the opening for it to happen if it's going to. (Oh, and obviously, don't act like you're expecting anything to happen. Just a group of friends, hanging out. You can even include some non-eligible people, and, you know, hang out.)
posted by anaelith at 2:14 PM on August 15, 2007

I'm gonna go against all the white here and say that, to some extent, it is your business. Part of what friends do is help each other grow and find the people and things that will help enrich each other's lives. If she's been your friend for many years, then you are probably very good at recognizing what she's seeking, even if she's not outright vocalizing it (although you say she is, so yay). You probably also know how to filter all the suggestions from the green and encourage her in ways we can't. So I say, go for your friend branch out and meet people. And she'll figure out how to do the "setup" part on her own once she's comfortable with all the new possibilities.

Your job is to find her those opportunities!

Go to bars together and talk to people. You have nothing to lose, so you can initiate conversations with men and then drop what I call "unavailability bombs"—little comments that make you unavailable, undesirable and no longer interested in the man you've sparked up a conversation with (so that he won't feel like a jerk when he takes more interest in your friend). Things like "OMG, Joe just texted me about next Saturday, I'll be right back!" (and then slink away for a few). Another good one is announcing that you're going to go smoke a cigarette. Instant turn off for most men.

But it also doesn't have to be bars! Cooking lessons are a great way to meet people. So is volunteering, community gardens, classes at your gym (rock climbing gyms are spectacular for this, as they are filled with amazing men who must pair up with you to do the belaying). Karaoke is fantastic—I've fallen in love with people instantly when they go up there and be shamelessly endearing and ridiculous.

Get into a hobby or sport. Find online forums or community groups that focus around it. Go to their events. A lot of times, especially if it's a niche sport or an extreme sport there will be local movie premiers and that sort of thing. They're usually centered around fundraising and socializing before the film/lecture/raffle/event takes place.

Farmers markets are also good. As are parks. Having a cute dog helps A LOT. Your cute dog will introduce itself to somebody else's cute dog. You talk dog shop for a while, and then decide to let your dogs play together. Bingo.

So, as a friend, find these places and go to them with her. If you have a dog, let her take it to the beach, or walk it. Initiate conversations with people and let her naturally take over when you step back. I have a coupled friend who does this for me all the time. She can read me and knows when to step in and suggest bailing from him, or inviting him to something. She and I have a pretty open dialogue about dating and such, and that makes all the difference. Talk to your friend a lot and start that dialogue so that you can help ease any dating concerns she may have. That can boost her self-esteem.

I think it's cool that you're looking out for her and want to help!
posted by iamkimiam at 2:14 PM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

What activities and what not can I get her interested in so that she can be exposed to the possibility of men who might take an interest in her?

They usually cost money, but you could take an improv comedy class with her.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:16 PM on August 15, 2007

She says she'd like to have a boyfriend...She's pretty dead-set against being set-up or online dating.

It doesn't sound like you need to listen to the "butt out" folks above - at least, as long as you don't set her up for blind dates or sign her up for

It sounds like she kinda maybe wants your help in meeting people, which is one of the things friends are for. Don't know where you are, but you might (both) consider signing up to volunteer for your local filmfest, if there is one.
posted by rtha at 2:22 PM on August 15, 2007

Until this friend asks Anonymous for help, it's not Anonymous's business. It's rude, intrusive, and manipulative.

I'm with ORthey and others. First of all she says "She says she'd like to have a boyfriend.." and then the OP simply says that she wants to find "What activities and what not can I get her interested in so that she can be exposed to the possibility of men who might take an interest in her?"

Exposing a friend to new activities where she might be "exposed" to men when said friend has expressed an interest in meeting men is manipulative?

Why can't we assume they're good friends and the OP knows her friend better than we do?
posted by vacapinta at 2:25 PM on August 15, 2007

[please keep the "butt out" comments to a minimum, the OP has likely read them and can't easily respond. take it to metatalk if you need to continue in that vein, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:33 PM on August 15, 2007

This is easy: make plans to do things where social interaction amongst the sexes is mandatory (classes of certain types, sporting activities, picnics, and so on) then invite her to come with as your buddy. If she doesn't want to be set up, all you can do is expose her to as many social situations as possible (and by going as your buddy, give her a reason to be there) and hope for the best.
posted by davejay at 2:51 PM on August 15, 2007

Some people just aren't interested. She may want a boyfriend for companionship, but not everyone experiences attraction towards other people.
posted by Sfving at 3:21 PM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

People all wondered why my sister didn't date, too. Turned out she was a lesbian. It just took her a little time to deal with the truth I guess. Could be the same or similar thing for your friend.
posted by poppo at 3:51 PM on August 15, 2007

When I was single, persistently and (my friends thought) inexplicably single, more than one good friend tried to set me up. It was not welcome.

Don't misunderstand: I'm not saying "butt out."

My friends all thought they knew guys with whom I might strike a spark. If my friends had been willing to casually include the two potential strikees (me and whichever guy friend) in any ordinary activity, I would have been delighted. An everyday afternoon at the coffeehouse or the farmer's market with 4 or 5 friends --- "and hey, my buddy NiceGuy's coming, hope you don't mind." Or a group trip to the movies with a stop at a diner for pie afterwards, or an evening at the pub.

These were all normal activities in my circle of friends, and it was quite usual for us to include someone unknown to the rest of the group without necessarily playing yenta.

But the people keen to set us up were also keen --- even keener, I think --- to get credit for setting us up. So they never gave me (or the guys) the chance to believe it was just a casual meeting.

Instead, they'd show up with some poor sucker in tow who had been told how much he'd like me, me and my bawdy humor, me and my love of movie talk, me and my culinary skills, me and my so-alluring spinsterhood. They'd strut in and say "Hey, have I got a guy for you!" That expectation dampened a lot of prospects.

So I'd say the best thing you can do is include her in whatever fun, easy-going group activity, without railing on about her being single. If you happen to know any appropriate single guys (assuming she's heterosexual), then invite them along too, just as friends. Don't make the mistake of turning a low-pressure situation into one fraught with anxiety by insisting on "a set-up."

(On the butt out side, I will mention that for a long time, people in my life tried to arrange dates for me after the death of my partner, before I was able to deal with dating. They thought I'd been grieving long enough. They were wrong. They should have butted out. Unless you know your friend extraordinarily well, you may not know all the reasons she's single.)
posted by Elsa at 5:25 PM on August 15, 2007 [6 favorites]

Try continuing education courses at college.
posted by JaySunSee at 6:16 PM on August 15, 2007

First off I think there is nothing wrong with you trying to get your friend out there so to speak. It's one thing to go on a quest to find your friend the perfect man, it's another to just get your friend in situations where they might meet someone, especially if they do not appear to have the social skills to do so on their own and have expressed a desire to date. I feel like everyone has done this with a friend that is either getting over a bad break up or just depressed about being single.

Also, I think we are to a limited extent responsible for our friends happiness. There is nothing wrong with nudging a friend in an area that you know they have trouble with. Dating is hard, for some it is near impossible (your friend appears to fall into this category), a supportive friend who can introduce her into an environment conducive to meeting men she might be interested in is a good thing.

One thing you might want to try is finding her other single female friends (of the more outgoing variety), single people tend to socialize more with other single people of both sexes and tend to go to do activities that enable meeting other single people. I can tell you from experience nothing kills your potential of meeting people more than being friends with nothing but couples.

Also a makeover may be in order. This can be done subtly. Sometimes a new haircut and a new outfit can help people see themselves in a different light and help other people see them differently.

And really just anything to get her out of the house period is a good thing.

Good luck!
posted by whoaali at 6:56 PM on August 15, 2007

There's nothing wrong with taking an interest in your friends well-being, at least until she doesn't want you to.

Question: do you ever get invited to interesting parties and such? Could you bring her along?

I'm not sure how you can "get her interested" in activities that will help her meet someone, but depending on your own life situation, location, and proximity to her, you may be able to work out some situations that are fun for you and useful, so to speak, for her.

But otoh, she might not really be attracted to men, or to anyone, or might have abuse issues or etc. It can be hard to know what's really preventing someone from forming romantic relationships.
posted by washburn at 7:11 PM on August 15, 2007

Do you and your friend enjoy hiking? The Sierra Singles is a subgroup of the Sierra Club that organizes hikes for, you guessed it, single people. Also bike rides, kayaking trips, etc, but with an emphasis on socializing with other singlefolk. Trips are rated for difficulty, length, elevation gain, and other important parameters, so your homebody friend can find a hike that won't overtax her. (Go with her, at least for the first few times - it's more fun when you already know at least one person in the group.)

The nice thing about hikes is that they are healthy daytime activities where you can walk alongside different people for a few minutes, then drift off without anybody taking offence. There's a natural flux along the trail as the fast walkers overtake the slow, so you'll probably end up talking to nearly everyone in the group by the end of the trip. If you don't like somebody, change your pace and you'll soon have a new chatting partner. And all that fresh air and sunshine make for a wholesome (corny, but I can't think of a better word) atmosphere - if your friend is put off by bars and the "meat-market" dating scene she might do better with the granola approach.
posted by Quietgal at 8:08 PM on August 15, 2007

I'll wager that many of the "Butt Out Brigade" (well-meaning as they may be) are probably still on the youngish side -- when it's still easy to meet people.

I loved that time; I had friends all over, I could go to their places at 2 in the morning, they'd drop by my place whenever. Their friends became yours; you were always meeting new people with similar goals and interests. You're networked! ---------- But all that changes rapidly when you graduate. People start to pair off in marriage and enter the workaday world. Just "meeting" prospective dates is becomes a harrowing experience and after the umpteenth "I'm married" shoots you out of the saddle yet again, there is a very understandable tendency to withdraw from the scene.

I, alas, have no specific advice to offer. Just a quick note of support.
posted by RavinDave at 8:27 PM on August 15, 2007

Well, I'm 25 (on the "youngish side") and I haven't ever had an easy time meeting people. My friends tell me they think I'm handsome and that I should be dating more often. They tell me that my lack of confidence in this realm is almost unbelievable because they think I have a lot to offer. I've never told them that I wish I had a boyfriend or that I wish I weren't single, but I appreciate their genuine concern for me nonetheless.

Since your friend seems to have expressed some interest in having a boyfriend one day, I think it's entirely appropriate for you to help her out while respecting her wish not to go down the matchmaking or online route. I agree with people who have advised that you take her to an event organized by a hobby/activity group which she would probably enjoy (and which you can at least tolerate if you decide to accompany her). You don't need to tell her that you're doing this so she can meet men. You said she can dance and sing; perhaps there is a group for musicians, singers, dancers, theatre folk, etc. you can look into. There are, contrary to popular belief, plenty of straight men in the world of theater ...

Best of luck!
posted by cscott at 4:56 PM on August 16, 2007

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