At one point in your life, you’ve likely either considered having your friends set you up on a date or you’ve done the matchmaking. It seems like such a great idea—if you're friends with both of them, they must have lots in common and will probably hit it off, right? Not exactly. A new study from Harvard Business School found that matchmaking brings happiness to matchmakers but not necessarily to the folks getting set up. [Tweet this fact!]
“While it seems like your pals would be the ultimate matchmakers because they know you and your tastes so well, the reality is that having them set you up can actually lead to a number of detrimental situations,” says Christie Hartman, Ph.D., a psychologist and dating expert in Denver. Consider these five things and think twice before letting your friends play Cupid.
1. It Could Wreak Havoc on Your Friendship
Say your friend sets you up with her friend John. He's great—until, out of nowhere, he ghosts you. You turn to your friend for support, but instead of getting on your level, she shrugs and says she’s staying out of this one—leaving you heated. “When your friend sets you up, she automatically becomes the middleman, which can create lots of tension between you two,” Hartman says. " You may end up putting the onus on her if the situation doesn’t work out, when really the end result is not her fault." And that blame game can seriously strain your friendship.
Another way that a setup can harm your BFF-ness is if you think your match is a total dud and can’t believe that the thought that he was good enough for you entered her brain for a split second. “If your friend sets you up with someone who’s not up to your own standards, you may conclude that she doesn’t think you’re worth a better guy,” Hartman says. And even if that’s a false assumption on your part, the fact that you think it may be true is enough to instigate an unnecessary and potentially hurtful battle.
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2. You Feel Pressured into a Relationship
Let’s say that instead of John ghosting you, you get tired of him and fade him out. But you feel so guilty about ending it with him since he’s “in the family” that you let things play out for way longer than they should. “When you let your friends set you up, you end up jeopardizing your own dating freedom because you feel like you owe it to them to give their friends longer chances than you’d give others,” explains Marni Battista, a dating and relationship coach in Los Angeles and founder of Dating with Dignity. Feeling boxed in may cause you to treat the man in question badly out of frustration, Battista adds, which could hurt his feelings more than if you’d cut ties at the appropriate time.
3. It Clouds Your Judgment
That same “in the family” pressure can have the opposite effect on you: Since John is pre-vetted, it’s easier to jump to the conclusion that you’re automatically going to hit it off with him. Before you know it, you’re daydreaming about the amazing double dates you’ll go on with your friend and her boyfriend—and maybe your wedding and baby names too. Slow down, girl! “The problem with high expectations is that they can make it harder for you to take things as they come, and also harder for you to recognize if you two simply aren’t a good fit,” Hartman says. Because you want things to work out so badly, you may try to force a connection that’s just not there. Or worse, you could end up falling for the idea of him rather than seeing the actual him, who could be someone who’s just not right for you. Whatever the situation, the bummer is that the higher your expectations, the more disappointed you’ll feel when it doesn’t work out—even if he wasn’t a good match from the get-go. [Tweet this fact!]
4. Your Friend May Have Ulterior Motives
Chances are your friend is probably trying to set you up with only your best interests in mind. However there’s also a slight possibility that she may be crushing on John and for whatever reason doesn’t feel comfortable going for him directly—so she decides to set you up with him, that way she’ll have something to talk about with him. “I see this a lot with my clients,” Battista says. “What happens is that the friend starts talking to the guy more, so she becomes his ally, thus creating a sense of pseudo-intimacy.” And you're left without the close relationship you deserve.
5. It’s Harder to Deal with a Split
Normally when you end things with someone, you can do a clean social media sweep and un-follow him on Instagram and Twitter and de-friend him on Facebook. But if the guy’s friends with your friend, you’re still going to see him—online and in person. “Dating a friend’s friend makes breakups so much harder because you continue to hear little tidbits about him through the grapevine, and he may pop up in Facebook pictures even if you’re not friends with him anymore,” Battista says. In other words, he’s always around, which makes it harder for you to move forward.