Letters of Life

Responding With Style: What Singles Can Do When Friends Set You Up

Welcome to the opening post of a series titled “Responding With Style . . .”

This series will examine how to respond to the many situations you face living in the 21st century in the city. This first post looks at the dating scene and one particular situation singles face from time to time.

Ever find to your chagrin that you’ve stepped unwittingly into the crosshairs of well-meaning friends? Their Mission has a target and it’s you.  They know someone they think, in fact they know someone, you will absolutely like.

So over toast and coffee, the Friend will proselytize about their friend, this person, whom you “should meet” because he might be “your type.”

What do you say?

In this age of social networking, say ‘Sure. Why not?’

Then go ahead and define your parameters to your friend, who is now hopping about with anticipation.

1) Make it clear that you do not consider this a date, blind or otherwise. It is what it is, an introduction over coffee.

2) Make it compulsory for the mutual friend, the middleman, to be at this introduction. Why make it harder on yourself than it already is?

3) For getaway purposes, I don’t recommend doing a meal, even when three’s company. Meals are hard to escape from and can be quite torturous if the company is not up to your expectations and can ruin the food too.

4) Do the requisite due diligence. Online background checks via Google and Facebook should suffice. If your friend stalls on letting you see the Prospect’s profile, be cool and remember that still waters run deep, and do not let shape or appearances mar your judgment. That is shallow thinking, and you are definitely not shallow. You’re reading this, aren’t you?

5) Sit back and let your middleman friend make all the arrangements for the meeting at the local coffee place. Do not add the Prospect as a ‘friend’ on Facebook, do not text or email the person. Always keep an air of mystery about yourself. Relish in the obvious excitement that is mounting in your friend as the day approaches.

6) On the day itself, dress with a little more care than usual.

MEN: This means a polo tee (ironed) is acceptable with a belt, denims and loafers. Please do yourself a favour and nix the Nikes. Also do not carry a backpack unless you are an undergrad/going trekking/swimming/playing tennis right after coffee. I understand the need to hold *something*, but the backpack over the age of 30 is starting to look like a security blanket. Again, correct me if I’m wrong. Cologne is optional, and if you must, apply *sparingly*. No woman likes to be outdone in the fragrance category. Comb your hair.

WOMEN: Dress simply and with care. This is not the same as dressing down in a Giordano tee, denims and Birkenstocks. I love the jeans and t-shirt look, but the details are what count. Some men notice these things and gives them clues about the kind of woman you are. You want to tell them that you aren’t trying too hard, and at the same time, that you care about how you look. So, yes to denims (white is chic), skinnies even better. For your top, pick something that is fitting but not tight, has details like sequins, clever graphics, and a strong colour like red, royal blue, or lime green. White or black never fails, especially in small dots. Avoid anything floral for now. Don’t forget earrings, and add a bracelet or cuff, and pick strappy sandals or shoes that are feminine, like ballet flats or kitten heels. Make sure your toe nails are polished. Run your fingers through your hair, or use a bit of cream to get rid of the fuzzies.

7) Bone up on the news. You don’t want to be stuck for something to say, or not be able to join in the conversation just because you didn’t read about the rat infestation in Tampines in The Straits Times that day/week.

8) Be genuinely interested in the person you’re meeting for the first time. Everybody has likes and dislikes, so find out what those are. Pretend you’re interviewing that person about his work, what he does on weekends, his favourite hangout spots. This is social ping-pong and your role is to keep batting the ball over to the other side. This makes you more interesting to the other person. An interested person is an *interesting* person. A good conversationalist asks more questions than he talks about himself.

Too many times, men talk about themselves and ask little about what I think, what I’m doing. And while I may be married and off the market, and not have an interesting job, that doesn’t make me any less interesting as a person. I hope not. Leave a comment if you disagree.

9) Decide beforehand that you are going to have a great time. Afterall, your friend with the high hopes is now tugging at the leash with anticipation that is palpable and probably annoying and unnerving. Tell her to chill. Wear a big smile when the introductions are made, relax and maintain eye contact.

10) Wrapping it up: At the end of the meeting, trade contact details if you want. Shake hands, say “It was great meeting you” and *mean* it. The rest, as they say, is up to you.

More about “Responding with Style”: If you have a situation/issue which you find annoying, overwhelming, difficult, messy to untangle, write your suggestion in the comment box below. I will give my take on it and how you can respond with a modicum of style or finesse.  Take the ideas and adapt it for your own use and your personality. Then drop me an email on how it went.  I want to hear from you! 

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4 Responses »

  1. Shh, no wonder no date coz am always in Giordano tees. Good way to shoo people off or being strike off the list but hope didn’t let anyone cross me out as friends.

    Hope about Giordano black or white tees with polka dots? Hmm, red tees with black dots will sure make me look like a lady … bug! Haha.

    Just feel like saying something though it’s unrelated so don’t take me seriously. TA!

  2. Being something of an expert myself in chaperoned blind dates, I have a clutch of stories and opinions and additional words of advice on the matter:
    1) Some chicks dig it, some chicks don’t – I, for one, ABHOR the sight of popped collars on a polo-T. Except if he golfs. This faux-macho flip instantly turns any ordinary guy into an extraordinary douche. I turned up at a restaurant once and, spying my to-be-date swaggering while he sat with his collar turned up, fought the urge to run away before I was spotted. I was right. He was a douche.
    2) When asking for post-date feedback, remember Bambi’s mom: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say nothing at all. I once told a chaperone, “Well, he has nice teeth.” And I’ve had a chaperone tell me, too, “He said he thinks you have a good head on your shoulders.” Ouch.
    3) Don’t speak in any kind of accent except the one you grew up speaking.
    4) Don’t say un-nice things about Caucasians before finding out that her ex was white.
    5) And frankly, if you’re a chaperone, the best thing to do is to tell NEITHER party that it’s a set-up.
    All said, I’ve never had a set-up date go too well for me, so I can’t say I believe. Then again, I’ve never been one to turn down the promise of food and friends!

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