Don't Play With Matches!
Remember this scene from Love With the Proper Stranger? Natalie Wood holds nothing back in this performance which communicates that the "art" of matchmaking is not exactly glamorous from the single person's point of view:
That's Tom Bosley in his first movie role as Anthony. In this scene, Angie's anger is compounded by the discomfort poor Anthony feels in this situation. Apparently, a set up is not much fun for him, either. This scene is a great example of how playing with matches can result in all parties getting burned.
People love to feel like they're helping others. This is especially true of women. We are natural born helpers. Helping makes us so happy at times we will offer our help when our assistance is not welcome. This becomes especially obvious when women (especially married women) take on the role of “matchmaker” for their single friends. While I have heard stories of how these arrangements sometimes do work out, more often than not, when a woman tries to “help” a single person to find a mate, the gesture is resented by the single party. If you do find that your single friend is somewhat resentful instead of grateful for your efforts to help, you may want to examine your motives. Rather than serving your single friend, the gesture may be an effort to serve you (and fulfill your desire to help someone). Here are some examples of how unwanted matchmaking efforts are often viewed by singles:
This is probably the worst thing you could say to a single person. It implies that her singleness is a pitiful state of existence, one in which she cannot possibly be happy. By making such a statement, you have defined happiness for your friend as you see fit. It also indicates a complete disregard for the fact that your friend’s singleness is a holy assignment from God. He has ordained this season of her life, yet you are doing everything possible to hurry this process along. Notice, too, the first word in this sentence is “I”. Seeing your friend “happy” as you have defined it is more about serving you than it is about serving her.
“I just think you two would be perfect together.”
Probably the most arrogant thing a matchmaker can say, because it assumes she is in control of her friend’s life instead of letting God ultimately do the matchmaking. (Rarely have I ever heard of women praying about a set up first -- they often will just go ahead and set two people up because they think it is a good idea.) Some women who like to assert two people are "perfect for each other" also have an unholy tendency to take the credit away from God if the match does work out, and proudly boast: “I brought them together.” If we're not careful, our tendency to help others can become an exercise in self-service because it makes us look like we did our good deed for the day.
“But you’re such a beautiful/talented/godly (etc.) woman.”
A statement like this implies that a single woman’s good qualities are being wasted if they’re not being spent on a man. If you want to compliment your single friends, do so. But don’t make them feel as though they are misusing their gifts and talents by remaining single. Again, this becomes about what you think your friend should be doing with her life, not what God has ordained for her.
“I hate to see you so lonely.”
There is a difference between loneliness and grief. For example, my friend “Gina” is not in the least bit lonely. Gina has lots of friends, a wonderful church, and lives a very full life. But she is still processing some grief over losing “Steve,” a man she adores who does not feel the same way about her. If your friend is grieving over losing someone she cares about, she is feeling the pain of the loss, but she is not necessarily lonely. A matchmaker has to then ask herself, "Am I trying to alleviate my own pain because I don’t want to see my friend grieving?" Forcing another man at a single friend does not serve that grieving friend. In fact, you may be creating loneliness by doing so. Ask anyone in a bad marriage – they’ll confirm that having a partner who doesn’t understand you will only escalate the feeling of loneliness.
“But you can at least give him a chance!”
If your single friend does not like the individual that you have in mind, drop any notions of getting them together right then and there. Your friend deserves to marry someone she is absolutely crazy about, because no matter who she marries, he will be a sinner. Marriage is hard enough having to handle conflict with someone you cherish, let alone someone you feel you have to “tolerate”. Do not pressure your friend this way. What you think should happen between two people may not be what God has in mind.
Matchmaking, in the opinion of this writer, is ultimately God's job. Only God knows what is best for your single friend. If you truly want to help your single friend, listen to her and respect her wishes. This is what constitutes true “helping.” When we help others, we are supposed to be assisting them, not taking control of their situations for them. If we examine ourselves closely, we may see that our motives for helping are more about fulfilling our own desires to help rather than truly assessing the needs of others. (Although this is not always the case. Sometimes it really is a genuine effort to help.) We can evaluate these needs by talking with our friends and asking them what would and would not serve them. We can also pray for them. Prayer is our most powerful tool in helping our loved ones. It also ensures that our desire to help is lined up with the will of God, and not just with our own desires. When we put the object of our help as our first priority, the effort will be genuine. Your friends will thank you for your support instead of resenting it!