Monday, April 7, 2008

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:

“I just want to see you happy.”

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!

7 comments:

Rita Martinez said...

Jen you would not believe what a cab driver told me last Saturday! I was kinda bummed out because of something that had happened that day and so my mind had wondered away while in the cab, when we were getting close to my place I started searching my purse for the money and couldn't find it so I asked him to take me to where I knew my parents would be and then searched my purse and pockets again just in case and voila! there it was inside my purse, so to my embarrassment I asked him to turn around and take me back to my place, the man asked..."you haven't spoken to your boyfriend today haven't you?" I said "I don't have a boyfriend" he replied "oh that's what's wrong with you" I was like excuse me! lol! and last week one of my aunts was telling me how I need a boyfriend because it makes people happy...And then an another aunt asking why I didn't have a boyfriend and what had happened to the last...seriously, its like thanks for your concerns! I'm happy the way I am, and there is a time for everything.

"Matchmaking, in the opinion of this writer, is ultimately God's job. Only God knows what is best for your single friend."
Absolutely! I agree.

I've started watching the movie you've linked to, I've never seen it.
Great post!
God bless ya!

Jennifer said...

Rita, that story made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing! I agree. I have never really felt like I needed to chase after the whole "boyfriend" thing. Rather, I tend to become interested in a person. The person is what matters; your love for a specific person should drive you toward thoughts of marriage, not the idea of not being single anymore. If there is nobody interesting on the horizon, I don't even think about it!

"Now Voyager" is awesome! I just saw it for the first time last week and I cannot wait to start writing about it! Boy, they just don't make movies the way they used to . . .

Rita Martinez said...

"they just don't make movies the way they used to . . ."
I know what you mean, in all honesty i can't bring myself to watch tv anymore because everything in it (HBO and those types of channels) is well unnecessary....as for the Now Voyager movie, I'm down to Part 8/14 when the mother "falls" down are you kidding me!!!! I'm not surprised she would do such a thing, its frustrating really!! hmm for some reason she reminds of Jane Fonda in that movie with Jennifer Lopez Monster-in-law...

Rita Martinez said...

ahh delightful movie! :) can't wait to read your post(s) about it :)

Jennifer said...

Hi, Rita. Well, a week later and I was just having another thought -- I changed the clip I originally had to this new clip instead, which reflects the family. I like this clip because I think it is pretty clear that even though Dominick is not being helpful, it is pretty clear he loves Angie. As single people we should strive to appreciate the efforts of those who love us to "help," but gently communicate to them when something they are doing is actually not serving us. Although Angie's reaction in this clip is completely natural, it is not very godly. I am sure her brother contributed to her anger and most likely has not honored her wishes, but even so, Angie is responsible for her reaction and cannot blame her brother for her anger saying, "He made me angry." Just some thoughts I had this morning. Take care!

Rita Martinez said...

Hey Jen!
love the new clip, wow was that an awkward moment in the kitchen, but you know she overreacted obviously there are other issues bothering her and probably that little detail made her blow up but she didn't have to react so angrily toward her brother. Even though one should be thankful toward matchmaker for their efforts, the matchmaker should take in consideration the feelings of the other person (Mr. "clumsy" in this case) knowing there is great a possibility of the person being rejected right away like in this case.

Jen I will comment further on the other posts, it'll have to be after this Friday, I have a final exam that day and have been MIA this week from the Internet because i've been studying all week at a friend's house... Pray for me pleaseee I need it!! Pray for my teacher as well, he is a man with not very good intentions toward us :( (its a long story, will tell later)

God bless ya!

Jennifer said...

What I love about this clip is that it does make my original point -- when Dominic says, "I love you!" and Angie says, "Don't love me so much! It's suffocating!" Sometimes when we love people, it can be suffocating because we're not nurturing, we're controlling. Angie did have other issues going on, and I think she was justified in her anger, only she let the anger get out of control, which is sin. In the end, she comes back. She most likely realizes she overreacted. Then again, she may also be crying over the pain of the strained relationship with her brother. It can be painful when we want so badly to be understood and we feel as though no one understands us.