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Before you start sharing phone numbers or photos, ask your friends if they want dating help. Just because they're single, doesn't mean that they're interested or even ready to date. "It's important to ask both parties what they're looking for -- to have fun, to have a relationship, to get married -- because the last thing you want to do is make an assumption, and end up hurting someone unintentionally," says Nicole McCance, a relationships expert and psychotherapist in Toronto. If one of the parties is more keen for a relationship than the other, you might want to rethink the two of them as a potential match. A little homework first can save heartbreak later.
2. Look for things in common, but also for differences
When matching friends, first look to similarities they may share. Values and life goals, religious beliefs, whether they like to travel, and their desire to eventually start a family can help make a cohesive match. "These things should align," says McCance. "Sharing the same interests makes it easier."
But when it comes to certain behaviours, McCance says similarities can cause problems. "If an anxious woman dates an anxious man there could be a lot of fighting because they're both type A personalities who like to have their own way," she warns. However, when you pair a type A person with a more chilled, relaxed individual, these behavioural differences can lend emotional balance to the relationship. "In anxious moments, he or she might say, ‘babe, everything's going to be okay; let it go,' rather than activating their significant other," says McCance. Weighing similarities and differences can help your match succeed.
3. Use social media to break the ice
You've now got two people in mind for your matchmaking mission. Casually share glimpses of one's social media profiles to gage the other's interest. Thanks to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, your two friends can scope out their potential match without pressure or awkwardness. "[Social media] is a reflection of their lives," says McCance. They can swipe through photos, discover interests and decide if they want to proceed with a date.
If they both like what they see, encourage them to follow or friend each other. They can chat and become familiar in a friendly, low-pressure setting.
4. Encourage them to speak on the phone
Once they've hit it off on social media, nudge your friends to speak on the phone. "Some people have chemistry via online chat. You can be more witty online because you can stop and think of what to say, but phone chemistry is different," says McCance. Hearing a person's voice is more intimate and helps both parties get a better feel of what their potential date might be like.
5. Set up an in-person meet
Time to get your matched friends face-to-face. McCance recommends throwing a dinner party or soiree in your home. Invite the friends you're trying to match, along with some mutual pals, too. A casual get-together with a group of friends is breezy, easy and cuts down on awkwardness. "There's no pressure, everyone is mingling, and then it's up to the two of them to connect," she says.
6. Remove yourself from the equation
Your two friends are now chatting and getting to know each other, so your matchmaking quest is complete. "You've done your part," says McCance. At this point, step aside and allow their relationship to flourish. You might feel the urge to ask one of them how it's going, but it's best to let their new friendship breathe and develop without any interference.
7. What's next?
With any luck, your friends will click and your social circle will welcome a new couple. But if their infatuation fizzles or they're having communication issues, resist the urge to come between them and get involved. It's best to stay out of it to avoid blame or awkwardness.
"If she says it went amazing, but she hasn't heard from him [it puts] pressure on you to check in with him," says McCance. You don't want to get stuck as a third wheel in their relationship drama, so McCance recommends that you let them sort it out. "They're adults. Just leave it. They know how to find each other," she says.
Remember, you have your friends' best interests at heart. If they don't go the distance as a couple, it's not your fault. Sometimes a love connection isn't possible despite the best intentions of all parties involved.
Here are more tips to help your single friends make new connections as adults.