Friday, July 6, 2012

Matchmaking - a lost art?

Matchmaking mishaps.
Matchmaking mayhem.
Matchmaking hell...

I take comfort in the concrete knowledge that I cannot be the only one who has been down this road :-)
In both directions in fact :-)
(Which makes it all the more tragic).

Why do we think matchmaking is such a good idea?
Is it the romantic in us?
Will I ever learn?

Around ten years ago I embarked on this futile journey when a friend bemoaned the fact that she was single and wanted a boyfriend. Around that time, I knew of a man roughly ten years older than her who was divorced and had grown children (I knew his oldest son). As my friend was open to an introduction, and didn't mind an older man, I introduced them to each other.
I put it down to inexperience on my part.

Roll along five years and I am at it again.
I introduce a male friend of mine to a female acquaintance. This time, things seemed to be going great.
For three weeks.
Then before I knew it, a bitter breakup ensued.
And now I am nervous around either party.

Will I ever learn?

I now think that the only people who should be matchmaking are the professionals...
Um, hm, perhaps even they get it wrong.

No, it should be the older woman in your family who is longtime married with children preferably your age or older...

Uh...wrong again!

One of my aunts just can't help herself, bless her :-)
I have been on the receiving end of not one but 2 of her matchmaking schemes. The first time, I walked into a minefield. That didn't go too well.
The second time I knew to run fast from her :-)

Luckily she still loves me, and I her... just.

But some attempts at matchmaking are not so cordial. In fact I have heard of some downright diabolical cases!

It struck me that 'do or die' matchmakers sometimes have an agenda, which may not be obvious to the couple who are being set up (sometimes against their will or even knowledge).
This is quite different from the well-meaning older woman (or man) like my aunt who is as hopelessly romantic as I was around ten years ago.
The problem is, how can one spot the true motive behind a matchmaking attempt?

Here are some scenarios:
Any suggestions as to what the underlying motive might be? No 'wrong' answers here. I just want to test out my degree of cynicism with the wider world's :-)

1. Mother of a young man who seems to be dating 'all the wrong women' approaches 'nice girl' to keep her son on the straight and narrow. No consideration for the possibility that these two may in fact be a very poor match for each other.

2. Young women in the 'service' and 'hospitality' industries such as waitresses, carers, nurses, approached by older women with sons with a view to matching these women up with their sons. Nurses have it particularly bad as said older woman can really use emotional blackmail to guilt trip the poor woman.
'Oh as you know, I am dying...(this might not even be true, and said nurse would know this of course) date with my son and I would gladly go in peace...'
I kid you not. This happened to a friend of mine.

3. The one or two young men (!) to be found in church these days aggressively pursued by mothers of daughters to date/marry their daughters. And then the next week, he doesn't come to church anymore...
Then the familiar chorus of 'Where are all the good men'?

4. Strategic 'matchmaking' by parents to keep the family property/money/assets 'in the right hands' completely ignoring daughter or son's choice of marriage partner. I guess this happens more in societies where arranged marriages are the norm.

5. Similar to 4., matchmaking performed purely to keep a third party happy. For example, where parents 'promise' their son or daughter to another family, eg. as some sort of debt clearance. Again, probably only applies to communities where arranged marriages are common.

6. 'Eliminatory matchmaking'. This is where a match is made with the express hope (or even better a certainty) that it will be rejected, but it is done as a smokescreen. I have only come across this in fiction, but I wonder if anyone has come across an example of this in real life?
Suppose Girl A was 'promised' to Boy A as a child, but Girl A is discovered to have an 'undesirable' trait when she reaches adulthood. In the fictional case I know of, the girl in question had to have a hysterectomy for medical reasons. The parents of Boy A then deliberately go ahead and match Boy A (who is unaware of the problem) with Girl A knowing that he rebels against all their decisions. Meanwhile they have changed their minds about Girl A anyway, because they want grandchildren and now have a Girl B in mind who they 'discourage' Boy A to pursue. So Boy A does exactly what his parents want and flees Girl A into the arms of Girl B who is in fact the (new) intended target of Boy A's parents after their rash mistake years earlier. The beauty is, Girl A's parents are none the wiser, because afterall a match was made with their daughter...
Sneaky...and sinister all at the same time.

Was the professional or the amateur matchmaker ever a good idea? Does matchmaking have any place in today's society?
Or is it a dead and buried art that died on the day of feminism's 'Bat Mitzvah'?

Would the return of the matchmaker be a real solution to today's SMP/MMP problems?
Or would it be like a zombie movie where the living dead are roaming the graveyard?

Are we just too 'modern' for matchmaking?
Is this the problem?
Why can't we just accept what we are given by Yente and her ilk?

I love the film 'Fiddler on the roof'.
But I have mixed feelings about Yente...
And I am suspicious of all matchmakers now...
Nevermind that I was (a bogus) one once...
But then again, my own attempt at it is the perfect warning that it shouldn't be done, no?

If I saw Yente coming, I would run a mile...
Especially as her idea of 'young' is 62 :-)

Are we all in this mess because we broke from 'tradition' as depicted here?
If ever there was a case for a return to Patriarchy, this is it, surely!

The question is, can we ever find our way back to this place?
Or did this village get tsunamied out of existence, never to rise again...


But... with 'tradition' comes the 'traditional woman'.
And she nags a bit :-)
"Send us the cure - we've got the sickness already".

Oh well, a man can at least have his private dreams, eh?

Um, I do love Topol's gravelly singing voice :-)


Charming Disarray said...

I have horrible luck matchmaking people, so much so that I'm just not going to do it anymore. One person always ends up feeling rejected.

My ex actually introduced my best friend and a good friend of his, and four years and three kids later they're still very happily married. It made things a bit awkward when it was time for them to chose godparents, ha ha.

Spacetraveller said...


I know what you mean!
Somehow things always go wrong, and all your good intentions are suddenly working against you when your matchmaking attempt heads south :-(

Perhaps your maried friends tried to 'match' you back with your ex by choosing you both as god-parents to ensure you have to be in the same place from time to time - eg. child's baptism obviously, but also his birthday, soccer game, etc. Did they do this?

You raise an important aspect of this whole matchmaking business which I forgot to include in the OP, which is, why don't men matchmake more? Or do they, and I just miss it because I blink? :-)
Perhaps men make better matchmakers?
In light of my own view of hypergamy, this should work very well for the Masculine-minded woman as we discussed in a previous post. If a man has been 'vetted' by another man, his value to me would be higher than if he were recommended by a woman. Least of all his mother, who is programmed to 'see no wrong' in him!
I think you also had this experience if I remember right, where a man recommended by a woman was of no lasting value to you...

I think more men should get involved in matchmaking, especialy older men.

I really love the story where Donald Trump walked up to this beautiful young woman and said to her (just like that!): I think you'll make a great wife for my son. She said, 'OK' (again, just like that!) and shortly afterwards, they were married and remain happily married. I also gave the example of my grandfather doing the same for one of my uncles. But these are the only 2 examples I know of!

Do we all need to get back to 'Tradition' as depicted in the second video to succeed in the SMP? Or is it all just too miserably late for all that, and we should just pack our bags and all go home...

just visiting said...

I've actually had a fair bit of success matching people up, though a few turkeys along the way too. Though I come by it naturally. Among my parents business interests were a chain of dating services. It was here that I learned and "apprenticed" my business skills.

They did quite well, back in the day, though with online dating, I'm not sure they'd be able to compete now.

Charming Disarray said...

I'm trying to remember who that was, now. I'm sure it's happened!

No, what happened with my friend was that when her first child was born, she agonized over who to pick because she didn't want us to have the awkwardness of being godparents together. It was just too soon after the breakup and she knew better than to try anything, even though for a while she hinted that it would be great if we got back together. Oh, and I won out and got to be godmother. :) It was a bit unfair, though, since he had introduced them!

It would be great if men did more matchmaking. What else do they have all those friends for? The hitch is that men have a hard time gauging another man's attractiveness, which can lead to pretty women getting all huffy by being set up with Nice Mr. Schmo. (Cue the manosphere...sorry, guys, but women need to feel attraction, too.) As far as vetting character, though, it's a great strategy. In fact, often when I ask a different married friend for advice she runs it by her husband to get the man's perspective, which I always find valuable. "You deserve better" coming from a female friend is nice but easily dismissed as loyalty. "You deserve better" from a married man who I know treats his wife with respect and kindness is hard to ignore.

amy said...

In honesty, my mom recognized the suitability of my 'match' before my husband or I. She wandered around wringing her hands and saying, "oh, but the two of you are *so* compatible" for about a year before we dated (would have only a few months on his side).

Similarly, I think that most arranged marriages are formed by the parents, a knowledgeable party consisting of father and mother. Together they look to the future comfort and stability of their child, knowing that whatever decision they make cannot be unmade. Don't forget my favorite scene in Fiddler on the Roof, "Do you love me?" where the husband and wife of 25 years realize that they love each other. Beautiful.

I think that today's single people are either too independent to want advice or too desperate to think clearly. Either way, the most that I'd hazard is an introduction (without the buildup). When two people have met, they can then figure it out on their own.

But then I remember a discussion at Bellita's. It may be a charity to point out the "Invisible men," the man she had not even considered. Would you consider this matchmaking?

Spacetraveller said...

@ CD,

"You deserve better" coming from a female friend is nice but easily dismissed as loyalty. "You deserve better" from a married man who I know treats his wife with respect and kindness is hard to ignore."

Absolutely! This rings true to me too. Somehow the 'weight' of the latter is much higher than that of the former :-)

You're a natural at matchmaking?
Need to take lessons from you then! Or maybe accept that it's never going to be one of my talents...

@ Amy,

I think you're right. The older someone is, the harder it is to make a match for them. But that's to be expected perhaps...
I think it counts as 'matchmaking' if a specific name is given, no? Name dropping is just one of many covert 'techniques' :-)

just visiting said...

I suspect that a matchmaker would have an easier time matching people up as the psychology is different going in. The people are putting down money (a lot for a membership) and are at a point where they want to meet someone. Invisible men have one advantage. Suspenseful build up.

I know that when we did it, the woman had first right of refusal. She would be told about her match and could decide if she wanted to continue. We'd tell her a little about the guy, enough to get her interest, but not too much. Usually 1 or 2 interesting things about him would be thrown in as well. She'd be given a description of the man, but that was it. No picture for her to accept or reject within seconds. I think this worked so well because it gave her time to use her imagination a little. It gave her a chance to "see" good things, and she had a third party also seeing these good things and verifying them with her. The fact that she had paid a lot of money and had an interviewer show up at her home in order to get a membership also probably played a part in non flaking. She was "known" and not anonomous, if only to the Service. In her own home no less. It makes a big difference psychologicly on the flake factor. Flaking was very uncommon. And if she did flake, we weren't above shaming, lol. But it happened rarely.

That's why I'm so surprised when I hear about the high levels of flaking in the sphere. Unlike an on line service, we would have had angry clients wanting their money back if this was common. So, there are advantages to matchmaking, Lol.

amy said...

JV: From your story, it sounds like the internet is not as successful a replacement for a living breathing, (shaming) matchmaker as I would have supposed. It is not too surprising that having a serious disposition going in affects the outcome of the match.

I was hoping to hear from the gentlemen before I aired my theory on men and matchmaking. (Did we scare the gentlemen off?) Whereas women have a tendency to mother all we encounter, men are more inclined to ... mind their own business. I imagine that men might be more inclined to match where they feel responsibility, such as for a daughter, son, or unmarried sister. (When I was 15, somebody tried to set me up with his son...) Men used to arrange marriages. Kings, too, dabbled in matches. I think that men prefer to stay within their realm of knowledge and influence.

Bellita said...

The people are putting down money (a lot for a membership) and are at a point where they want to meet someone.

This reminds me of the Reality show I blogged about a few months ago, The Undateables. All the subjects also used a professional dating service (the most expensive in the UK, I believe) to be matched up.

I can see that putting all that money down upfront presupposes a degree of seriousness and open-mindedness that you'd never find on a "volunteer" match-up service like a dating site.

I think this worked so well because it gave her time to use her imagination a little. It gave her a chance to "see" good things, and she had a third party also seeing these good things and verifying them with her.

The first time I met up in person with someone I had gotten to know on the Internet, I got a good sense of why he used a Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper as his avatar. ;) He was no "hottie" by the standards of the day or of the place we lived in. (Full disclosure: Neither was I! :P) And if we had met through a dating site instead of a fandom board, we probably would have rejected each other immediately. But because we didn't know what the other looked like until we had learned about all our shared interests, we were more open about getting to know each other better. (It helped that I had brought along a big batch of chocolate chip cookies, my secret weapon. ;) Hahahaha!)

We went on a couple of dates before realizing we both preferred to remain friends. :)

Spacetraveller said...

@ Amy and JV,

"I know that when we did it, the woman had first right of refusal."

Now I really wish the men would chime in, Amy. You are right, I think we have managed to scare them off with this topic! But that's a shame, because I do think that men make very good matchmakers - but is it because they don't do it so often? I agree that women want to 'mother' everyone they see, hence the constant need to matchmake for their single friends/relatives. (Not that I am knocking that! I think somehow that is not a bad thing - it only gets destructive when it is done from a 'bad place').

JV, there is a post on BeijaFlor's blog, and this post was about a topic that really got on the Manosphere men's nerves, such that the same subject was much reproduced on many a Manospehere site:

Come to think about it, I should have linked to this post in my own OP.
This topic was also discussed on Lost's site:

The problem with this matchmaking site was (and I am sorry, I have no other info about it onther than BeijaFlor's and Lost's - I haven't yet been on the site to check for myself what the problem is) that women were given much more info about a prospective match than men, and men feel this is unfair. There were a few other issues too. I really wish a man who knows more about this site would chime in. My impression was that matchmaking has always been like this, i.e. the woman is always given 'first refusal' like you describe, JV. But somehow, the men are upset with this particular version of the traditional matchnaking system. My question (as usual!) is why? What is so different about THIS site?


"From your story, it sounds like the internet is not as successful a replacement for a living breathing, (shaming) matchmaker as I would have supposed."

True. And there is plenty else wrong with online dating as well (not that I think online dating is bad - I don't) as CD posts about on her blog:

I think CD is right: the 'sensory' (visual, auditory, even olfactory!) cues that one needs for a successful buildup of attraction are all missing in online dating (at least initially) and so people have to make snap decisions based on very flimsy 'evidence'. The visual cues provided by women for men (i.e. their picture) works only as a 'static' measure and may not be accurate. A 3-D vision is so much better than a 2-D one!

Spacetraveller said...

@ Bellita,

Your story tells me that you used the online system to the best of its limitations. I guess with online dating, the adage 'you kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince' is even more true than usual!
But you didn't reject him based on flimsy data. You met him (more than once) before deciding he was not for you, and he decided you were not for him. I think that's a success for all concerned.
The Private Man is a connoisseur on online dating, as you know. He, like many man in The Manosphere, is disappointed with the 'flaking' that goes on, mostly by women. I think he has a point, although perhaps it is very obvious to a woman that a man is wrong for her even before she has all the 'evidence'? The other problem about online dating is that not everyone is actually looking for a relationship. There are perhaps many people who are simply seeking attention and are therefore wasting everyone else's time.
But there is no way to tell the difference between these people and the 'serious' ones, or even whether if it is possible to turn a 'time waster' into a 'serious one', i.e. if it is possible to 'roll your own alpha' (of either gender) and get what you want out of online dating. (See? I told you I would find ways of using this expression you introduced to us :-)

I also wonder if the system of matchmaking services where men pay and women don't is a good thing or not. In fact, I wonder if 'Tawkify' follows this convention?

just visiting said...


Women paying meant they were serious and invested.

Women may have been given first right of refusal, but the men were able to refuse as well. Both were given the same amount of information.

As for Talkify, there seemed to be a bit of one sidedness in their business model.

just visiting said...

@ Bellita

I love your stories!
My ex and I talked on the phone for a few weeks before we actually met.

Bellita said...

What made the difference was not only that he and I were already friends before we decided to meet, but also that he and I had several mutual friends in the same fandom forum. If we had been rude to each other, it would have had bad consequences all around. And I think we were aware of that, if only on a subconscious level.

But there is no equivalent of this civil, considerate social dynamic on regular dating sites. So women feel free to flake. :(

Thanks! There are more stories where that came from! ;)