Margarita Confessionals: How to handle a date set up by friends

Welcome back to Margarita Monday! Each week, we’ll be publishing a story about dating by Lauren Levine and/or Ali Washburn to go along with the latest episode of “The Margarita Confessionals,” a podcast for the jaded dater. You can find it on Soundcloud or iTunes.

Here at The Margarita Confessionals, we’re all about dating apps. Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, we love them all. However we also see the appeal of getting set up by friends. There’s an extra level of security involved this way, since if your friends think this person is okay, then they’re probably not (a) a serial killer, (b) a total jerk, (c) already married.

Take heed, though, because getting set up by pals requires careful planning in order to avoid a total crash and burn. Here’s the anatomy of an effective setup:

Focusing on more than just relationship status

Sometimes well-meaning friends get so excited that people they love are single that they become convinced that the two of you should love each other as much as they do. In order to successfully execute a setup, encourage your friends to look beyond relationship status. Do you two have shared interests? What about similar personality types? Similar backgrounds or goals?

Plan the initial meeting carefully

When you’re being set up by pals, it’s easy to abandon common first date protocol and accidentally get yourself into an uncomfortable situation. Even when your friends can vouch for your date, you still want to keep things low key. Try to meet on your own without your mutual friends tagging along. However if they insist, hit up Ten Park Lanes or Strike City. Take a trip to Wooden Robot, Sycamore, or the brewery of your choice. Just don’t let them drag you to a fancy restaurant where you can sit at dinner for three hours and listen to them talk about the home they just bought together as you realize that you don’t even know your date’s last name.

Keep the pressure low

If your friends are bursting with excitement about the possibility of future double dates, you have to bring them back to reality and keep their expectations low. If things don’t go well, you don’t want your individual friendships to be impacted by The Great Setup Mishap of 2016. On the flip side, if sparks do fly, you don’t want to feel pressured to share every juicy detail just because they happened to make the introduction. It’s a little bit different than spilling your guts about someone you met at the gym or on Tinder. 

Another thing to keep in mind: going into a setup situation puts slightly more pressure on both of you than if you met on your own. How much should you acknowledge that your mutual friends want you to be in love? It’s sort of the elephant in the room. Know this and cut yourself and your date some slack. If things don’t go perfectly, consider going back for round two to see if you enjoy yourself more once you’ve started to form your own connection outside of just knowing the same people.

Photo: Remy Thurston