Four Fixes For Bad Fix-Ups

Everyone’s had someone fix them up on a blind date with disastrous results. Follow these four rules to keep your relationship with the matchmaker on good terms — regardless of the date’s outcome.

By Dave Singleton

our friend was thoughtful enough to fix you up with someone she just knew would be perfect for you. But your friend was wrong — very wrong. Sometimes, the road to hell(ish) dates is paved with a friend’s good intentions. “Seriously, what was she thinking?” asks thirty-something New Yorker Jill K. “She said we would be a perfect pair and had to meet. So I told her, ‘sure.’ But the guy
You can never tell if it’ll be a love match or not.
she fixed me up with was an obnoxious, arrogant creep who wasn’t even decent-looking. What do I say to her now?”

Good question. How do you handle the aftermath of a friendly match gone horribly wrong? The answer to that question lies in carefully managing how you handle such dates — before, during and after they happen.

Of course, for you and your date, it might be just another forgettable night. Unfortunately, your response (or lack of one) to the person you were fixed up with might not be as forgettable for the person who played matchmaker. Much like the adage that laments, “there’s no free lunch,” there’s usually nothing “free” about getting set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. Instead, these dates often come loaded with hopes and expectations outside of the two people meeting each other for the first time. To avoid an awkward, disappointed, or possibly even angry reaction from your matchmaker, follow these four rules of the road for avoiding bad future fix-ups.

Rule 1: Set Reasonable Expectations Beforehand
42-year-old Baltimore resident Andrea learned the hard way that fixing a bad fix-up starts long before the date itself can occur. “I blindly went into this ‘blind’ date, pardon the pun, and it was a mistake,” Andrea says. “I am not a big dater, so I was really excited, never imagining I’d be bored out of my mind on the actual date. Plus, I appreciated my coworker so much for even thinking about me enough to set me up with her cousin. The week before the date, my coworker and I fed each other’s expectations about what might happen until they grew way out of proportion. When it turned out I wasn’t attracted to her cousin, she was extremely disappointed in me, as if I’d rejected her personally.”
Lesson learned: When presented with a possible friendly fix-up, be enthusiastic and appreciative, but reply with caution in order to set the right tone. Say something like, “I’d love to, but you know how these things go. You can never tell if it’ll be a love match or not. But I look forward to a nice evening with the person you’d like me to meet.”

Rule 2: Don’t Be Insulted by the Matchmaker’s Efforts
Jill’s appalled reaction echoes the sentiments of anyone who’s ever been fixed up with someone else’s horribly wrong mental image of what our ideal match
Find at least one positive thing to say about the experience.
entails. Seriously, what was my friend thinking? After the date, you might wonder if your friends and family even know you at all based on the bad match they insisted was right for you. Don’t they even know the basics of what you find attractive? Or do they think so little of you that they’d want you to be with someone you find _______ (fill in the unappealing adjective)?
Lesson learned: The easiest thing to do is take it personally. Don’t. Maybe the person is duller than dishwater, spark-free, and doesn’t share one of your interests. Even so, it’s doubtful your matchmaker meant to insult you, even if it feels that way. People who fix you up usually act with the best of intentions and want to see their matches happy. So what if one of them missed the mark? At some point down the road, after the smoke has cleared from your latest fix-up failure, clarify what it is you do seek in a mate.

Rule 3: During the Date, Be on Your Best Behavior
Typically, dating advice includes this mantra: be yourself. And that’s true; it is very important to be yourself on all of your dates. But this is no ordinary date, remember, it’s one arranged by someone that you both know. The person you’re sitting across from right now might be “date downloading” tomorrow with your matchmaker who is, in effect, your invisible chaperone. Your actions on the date are probably going to be monitored and reported back for later discussion (and without you present).
Lesson learned: Even if you know from the get-go that it’s not a match, don’t treat this like a quick “screener” date. Make an extra effort during conversation. Watch the gossip about any mutual friends. Split the bill if you don’t plan to see each other again. Remember: no matter how bad or seemingly endless the date is, it will end. Exit graciously. Don’t ignore your date’s calls or emails if he or she follows up with you. You don’t want one night with a bad match to adversely affect your relationship with the person who fixed you up.

Rule 4: Always Thank the Person Who Played Matchmaker
No response is not always an acceptable response. “A few well-intended chums have set me up on dates,” says 43-year-old Diana W. from Washington, D.C. “They wanted these dates to work out so badly and were much more upset than I was when the dates fizzled. The first two times, I didn’t say anything to my friends afterward, thinking that my silence would spare their feelings. I was mistaken. Turns out they thought that was very rude of me.”
Lesson learned: No matter what happens on the date, send a quick note or make a brief call to thank the person who went out of his or her way to do something out of kindness and consideration for you. Even if it feels slightly awkward to do so, the alternative can be worse. Find at least one positive thing to say about the experience: it was a great restaurant; the person seemed very passionate about work; your date was well-mannered and a good tipper. Just say something to assuage the cold, hard fact that there won’t be a second date.

Bottom line: Don’t burn your blind-date bridges. Matchmakers may not have a foolproof success rate, but they are trying to help, and their good intentions warrant your gratitude. And who knows what the next fix-up will bring? It could be just the person you’ve missed all along!

Dave Singleton is the award-winning author of two books on dating and relationships, numerous articles, and a regular columnist for since 2003. Please send your dating and relationship queries to him at
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