Sarah Thebarge is single and knows that there are good men out there – but she needs someone to set her up.
I frequently travel to speak at events, and afterwards I shake hands with a lot of people. One of the most common things they say is, “Why’s a pretty girl like you still single?”
I know they mean well, and in a way it’s sort of a compliment that they think I’m good marriage material, but it drives me crazy. Because the real answer to their question is not, “I don’t know” or “There’s a shortage of good men out there” or “I’m too busy for a relationship right now.” The real answer is, “Because you’re not setting me up with anyone. Sixty-three percent of married couples meet through mutual friends, so if you haven’t introduced me to anyone, I’m probably still single because of you.”
When I told people I’d signed up for an online dating site, some of them gave me the look.
It’s the look that says, Oh, honey, you’re that desperate? or You’re so unsuccessful at dating real men that you’ve taken to dating fake men instead? or How embarrassing for you. or You know there are lots of creepy stalkers on those sites, right?
I know couples who have met online who actually make up a fake story for how they met, afraid they’ll get some kind of recrimination if they tell the truth. They’re worried people will think less of them if they know the relationship started online.
I have yet to figure out why there’s a stigma attached to online dating. But here’s the thing — based on the latest statistics, the overwhelming majority of married couples meet through mutual friends. Contrary to common perceptions, less then 10% of marriages come from meeting at a bar — or at church.
When I talk about online dating and I get the look, what I want to ask in response is what that person’s done to introduce me to one of their single friends. Because statistically speaking, I’m way more likely to meet my mate through the person who is giving me the look then I am to meet someone online. But if they don’t try to set me up with anyone, what options do I have?
In America we value our independence so much that we tend not to rely on anyone for anything. And we try not to interfere in other people’s affairs, worried that they’ll be offended or embarrassed if we offer our help. But in doing this, we deprive each other of the resources we have.
Online dating has become a $1 billion industry — and I doubt its popularity would’ve soared if we’d been introducing our friends to each other and trying to help people connect in the real world.
In my opinion, going to an event where I have the chance to mingle with people is way less pressure than getting set up on a blind date. So instead of pitying your mopy single friend, or giving them odd looks when they tell you they’re doing online dating, here’s my advice: Introduce them to people you know. (And until you’ve tried to do that, don’t ever ask a single person, “Why’s a pretty girl/nice guy like you still single?” Because the answer to that question is, “The reason is you, the person asking that inane, annoying question. It’s because of you.”)
What does this mean in practical terms? It means for Valentine’s Day, you should throw a cocktail party, host a dinner party, invite a bunch of people to watch a movie or play board games or rock climb or whatever it is people do in your city. You can’t create chemistry between people, but you can create an opportunity for your single friends to meet people they wouldn’t have met otherwise.
And on a more personal note, if you’re friends with me and you’re reading this article, remember that 63% of my chance of getting married is resting squarely on your shoulders. So why are you still sitting there? Hook. a. sister. up.
Photo: Flickr/Capture The Uncapturable