I’m uncomfortable with people trying to match-make.
Just to get the record straight, I am not talking about the careful and considerate conversation a friend might have with someone who is single, offering to introduce them to another single person who could be partner potential. I think done right, those careful introductions can be quite loving.
I’m talking about those awkward comments: “You and so-and-so would be so cute together.” “You know, so-and-so is single too?” “So, how are you still single?” “Why aren’t you dating anybody? So-and-so would be perfect together.” I’m talking about the winking and the nudging and the not-subtle-at-all hinting. I’m talking about the eager person who carefully watches two singles standing together at morning tea and begins planning their wedding for them. The person who imagines being responsible and taking credit for being the one who “started it all”. When people are sneaky and insist on setting people up, without asking whether their single friends would like their help… That puts me on edge.
I think I get where the match-makers are coming from. It’s not a manipulative, cruel place. Perhaps they are newly dating/engaged/married and life is just so good right now. They’re in the honeymoon phase, they’re blissfully happy and they just want all their friends to be as happy as they are. Perhaps the match-maker is just so happy they want to share the good feelings around and help their single friends to know just how fabulous life can be when you’re doing life as a duo. (For the record, it’s not like this all the time, but the reality of marriage is a good topic for a future blog post).
Or perhaps the match-maker is single, and doesn’t want to be. Perhaps this is how they imagine being in a relationship is. Perhaps this is the happiness they long for themselves, and so long for their friends to have too.
But I feel uncomfortable with the idea of people trying to manipulate two singles and force a lifetime of love and relationship on them. Here are a few reasons why it makes me uneasy:
1. I’m worried that it invalidates singleness
In 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul describes singleness as a gift from God. Surely trying to encourage people to get with others and arrange circumstances so this happens… surely this is like saying “your gift isn’t really that good”, isn’t it? I struggle to see how it can be helpful and loving to assume that someone who is single wants to be matched up in the first place, let alone trying to manipulate situations for the two to cross paths… Can’t we love our friends who are single by just loving them as they are, without trying to insist they pair up with another?
2. I’m worried it’s the wrong focus
Sometimes I also wonder whether we’ve got our focus wrong. Our aim should be to build others up and to help them be more like Jesus, regardless of the season of life they are in. Shouldn’t we be helping people to focus on being more godly in the season they are in, instead of encouraging them to long for a different season?
3. I’m not sure it’s help that is always wanted, or appreciated
I think, unless a friend asked for my help in finding a date or a partner, or unless I had asked prior and my friend was 100% okay with being introduced to someone, I would be very hesitant to offer my services. They simply might not be wanted. They might not be appreciated. They might bring more harm than good. A single girl once said to me “it’s very unhelpful when people point out all the single men in church to us. It’s not like we don’t know they’re there, and it doesn’t help us to have them pointed out to us.
4. I’m sure our words can be more loving than this
Small talk should not consist of things that can be huge issues for people. Small talk is about small issues, like weather (ugh this rain Sydney is having) or local events. Small talk shouldn’t consist of asking someone struggling with singleness “So, interested in anyone lately?”. Sometimes singleness can be a real struggle for people, especially those who didn’t choose to be single. Surely we can think of other things to talk about with each other?
5. I don’t want to unintentionally devalue people
When it seems to be the norm that most people end up in relationships/married, and people talk about their “other half”, I imagine it can be hard to be single and feel complete. I think the Bible makes it very clear that people are made complete in Christ, and that you are not half a person, or somehow missing any parts or incomplete just because you don’t have a partner. But if all we ever do is suggest suitors for our single friends, or try and set up as many situations as possible for two single friends to talk alone together, could we be unintentionally devaluing our friends?
I have seen it happen a few too many times. People with genuinely good intentions, motivated by love for their single friends, trying to hook two people up. I’m not convinced this is the most loving thing to do. In fact, I’m convinced there are better ways to love those who are single in our churches that don’t involve setting them up or suggesting partners for them. Why don’t we pour our time and energy into being good friends, friends who support and encourage and love them as they are in the season they are in, rather than being manipulative and trying to matchmake when it’s not wanted?
I’m very aware that I’m married and trying to write a post on singleness – it’s a weird dynamic and I’ve tried very hard to address the issue of unwanted match-making and awkward comments, rather than the issue of singleness. I’m sorry if you’re single and you do feel misrepresented. Please let me know if you feel this way. – Tara