Should You Set Up Your Single Mutual Friends? (2024)

We know they say that “first comes love, then comes marriage,” but in our opinion, the classic nursery rhyme is missing one crucial step: Actually finding someone you like enough to date. While meet-cutes and dating apps are some of the most popular ways for singles to find their next wedding plus-one, it's often easier to find Mr. or Mrs. Right when you have a common connection, like mutual friends. In fact, if you’re wondering whether you should set up your mutual friends, experts agree it might just be the key to helping your pals find that happily-ever-after kind of love.

“Dating can be a whirlwind, and setting up friends eliminates both parties from having to date a complete stranger,” explains marriage therapist, Kiaundra Jackson, LMFT. “Mutual friends—because they know people in common—can have a lot to talk about and are more likely to share common interests than strangers,” adds Sarah E. Hill, PhD, a research psychologist specializing in relationships. “This can help break the ice and create a more comfortable atmosphere during the date.”

Meet the Expert

Not only does setting up friends mean you’ll definitely snag a future wedding invite if they hit it off, but Jackson says it can also give them a much-needed break from the exhausting, app-forward dating scene. But before you start pairing up every single person you know, Jackson stresses the importance of consent: “Make sure you get the green light before you proceed,” she explains. “The last thing you would want is to intrude in a place where you are not wanted.”

However, if you do get the go-ahead from everyone involved, here’s what the love experts say you should keep in mind when playing matchmaker.

The Love Advice Everyone in a New Relationship Absolutely Needs to Hear

What to Know Before Setting Up Mutual Friends

Before you pair up your pal from book club and the cute tech guy from your job on a whim, Jackson shares that you need to be very aware of the qualities and values they each desire. In fact, couples therapist, Lee Phillips, EdD, says learning your friends’ “types”—whether it’s what they do or do not look for in a partner—is a crucial step in this process.

What's more, you'll also need to cross-reference traits, wants, and deal-breakers. “Does the person you’re trying to match them [with] meet those requirements?” Jackson asks. “Just because two people are single does not make them a great match. They need to have more in common than a similar relationship status.”

Once you've determined that your friends are exactly each other’s types, all three experts further stress the importance of setting realistic expectations and keeping your involvement to a minimum. “Don't put too much pressure on the date,” says Dr. Hill. “It's an opportunity to get to know someone, but it doesn't have to lead to a romantic relationship. Make sure that everyone involved knows there are no expectations for them to hit it off. They should just have fun with it.”

The Pros of Setting Up Mutual Friends

First and foremost, Dr. Hill says an intentional setup gives your pals a level of security and assurance they wouldn’t have when going on a date with a stranger. “Mutual friends can serve as references, vouching for the character and intentions of the other, which can build trust between the two,” she explains.

Beyond safety, Lee adds that a setup can reduce swiping fatigue while increasing the chance that your friends will find "their person." It’s simple: “Shared interests, shared emotions, shared hobbies, and shared friends [re: you!],” he says.

Plus, for what it's worth, the matched couple isn’t the only one benefiting here. “For the person doing the setting up, this can be a lot of fun and feel very rewarding,” says Dr. Hill. If things work out, you might even end up with some new “couple friends” you can go on double dates with.

The Cons of Setting Up Mutual Friends

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee things will work out for your friends, which Lee says can cause a disconnect in your group. “What happens if they break up? What if they blame you for the breakup? It may be awkward still trying to be friends when everyone is on different pages,” adds Jackson.

Also, let’s not forget the added pressure your pals might feel to make it work since you’re the one to set them up. If the date or relationship is a dud, they might have a hard time breaking it to you, which can make everyone uneasy.

To avoid these pitfalls, however, Dr. Hill suggests having a candid conversation, pre-setup, about how things will be handled if the relationship doesn’t work out. “Once everyone feels comfortable with the exit strategy, it can take some of the pressure off of everyone involved,” she says.

Final Takeaways

Ultimately, deciding to set up two (well-matched!) friends can be a really rewarding and fun way to help your mates find someone truly special. “You have a part in potentially creating a beautiful love story if it works out long-term,” says Jackson. “Just make sure your friends are okay with you being a part of their dating journey. If they are, go for it! If they are not, respect their boundaries and leave it alone.”

With respect for your mutual relationship, an open mind, and realistic expectations, setting up mutual friends can be a sweet gesture. “The most important thing, though, is to preserve the friendship and not let a failed setup create any unnecessary tension or resentment,” says Dr. Hill. “Remember that friendships are valuable, and they should be cherished regardless of the outcomes of dating attempts.”

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Should You Set Up Your Single Mutual Friends? (2024)


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