I’ve always had a penchant for matchmaking. And one or two successes during my early 20s convinced me I had a knack for it. Since then, I’ve had mixed success when I think two people might be MFEO (“Made for Each Other”).
Whether it’s setting up a first date or asking hard questions, an outside opinion can be a great asset to a budding relationship. Here are four ways to “meddle” in your friends’ love lives without being a pest.
Help them network. In today’s fragmented society, it can be hard to meet a potential date, let alone a potential spouse. I often hear of couples who first met when they were introduced by a mutual friend or family member. I once told a college friend I had a hunch she might hit it off with someone I’d interviewed for the school newspaper. My hunch was correct, and a few years later they were married. Sometimes a simple suggestion can lead to something great.
Press in. When I first met my husband, Kevin, we quickly got caught up in spending tons of time together. Within a few weeks, my best friend expressed concern that she hadn’t been able to spend any time with us together as a couple. She wanted to observe our relationship to be sure I wasn’t jumping into something that wasn’t good for me. Kevin and I began going out with my friend consistently, and her perspective was helpful as I tried to discern if Kevin was the man I would spend my life with. Plus, the fact that she knew and loved us both felt extra good when she stood up as the maid of honor at our wedding.
Community is important in all seasons of life. In “When Friends and Romance Mix,” Ashleigh Slater writes:
“If your current relationship leads to marriage, both your spouse and (most likely) your close friends are going to be with you for the long haul. Create ways to spend time with both, and encourage your love interest to do the same. Plan a once-a-month dinner where you all gather, or have a viewing party for an awards show or big game.”
Pressing in shouldn’t be bothersome. Instead, it creates protection and healthy community for the couple.
Ask questions. I have frequently witnessed someone blinded to her date’s flaws by new-relationship excitement. In the throes of infatuation, the other person can do no wrong. But we all have weaknesses, coping mechanisms and character deficiencies, and it’s helpful to know about these things before the relationship gets too serious. You can help your friend proceed wisely through a relationship by asking questions.
I remember when someone did this for me. I had been spending time with a young man who was winsome and funny. My friend asked if he was doing anything to mature spiritually. “Um….” Did he encourage me to walk more closely with the Lord? “Not exactly.” Did he love Jesus? “I think so….” By the end of that conversation, I knew I was indulging an infatuation that would not lead to mutual edification. I was able to step away from that fruitless dalliance and keep my eyes open to who God might bring into my life for something God-honoring and lasting.
Encourage. When you do see potential in a relationship, encourage it! When I was first trying to figure out if I could date a younger man, friends from church affirmed the potential they saw in my relationship with Kevin. We wanted the same things out of life and worked well together. Those friends did the same for Kevin, reminding him that “age is just a number.” Without these encouragers, we might have never given it a try.
I have also been in the seat of encouraging others to “go for it” with a promising relationship. And I’ve been delighted to see some of these connections end in beautiful, enduring marriages. Words have power, and I still remember some of the conversations that convinced me that dating Kevin was a good idea.
Just show up
Be respectful about how you participate in others’ relationships, and pull back if your involvement is unwanted. Scripture says not to throw your pearls before pigs. Some of my best intentions have fizzled. However, the Lord has put me in the lives of my close friends to walk with them through all aspects of life, including dating relationships.
Matchmaking doesn’t have to be complicated. Really, it’s about engaging with the opportunities God provides. Show up in your friends’ lives and trust the Lord to do the rest. As you network, press in, ask questions and encourage, you will bless those in your life while developing healthy habits of community.
Editor’s note: For more on this topic, listen to our conversation on this episode of “The Boundless Show.”
Copyright 2023 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.