#982: “A friend is trying to set me up with someone she knows and I prefer not to.”

Hello Captain,

My distant friend Sally and I went out to dinner and she started asking me about my past relationships. I’ve known Sally for over a decade and she’s never pried into my dating life. I told Sally I wasn’t interested in dating anyways as I am looking for a job and like to online date or meet people through work. She tried to reason me out of all of this which seemed troubling.

A couple weeks ago Sally had a birthday party. She had put the event on Facebook. After our dinner, Sally texted me that her friend John saw me on the invite list and became “interested” in me. She said he might hit on me at the party ( he did not show up). This made me uncomfortable as I hate flirting with strangers. It’s odd but I’ve never even flirted with someone who’s become my boyfriend.

I also don’t trust Sally’s judgment at all. To be blunt I’ve met her friends and they aren’t horrible but they’re the “I don’t suffer fools gladly” type.

John has also been asking Sally about me. He wants to know when I’ve found a job and want to meet him. I have never indicated I want to meet John. I’m refusing, there’s something odd about a person in their late twenties being this invested in someone because of their FB profile. I rarely if ever post on FB. He is also asking me out through my friend which seems manipulative.

Do you have script suggestions?

Thanks,

– No thanks stranger ( female pronouns)

Dear No Thanks, Stranger!

I do have script suggestions! And other suggestions!

Step 1: BLOCK that John dude from Facebook and then go ahead and find him on all social media platforms you use and preemptively block him there. Not unfollow, not unfriend, not “hide feed” – BLOCK. Also, consider temporarily changing publicly visible avatars to something other than your face, and locking down security/visibility of any photos of you that are out there. Make sure there is nothing out there to feed his fantasies.

If that seems mean or harsh or unfair, let’s remember: You’re not interested in him at all, you’re already vaguely creeped out by his attention, you are losing nothing from your life by cultivating your internet garden as you see fit. The way he’s monitoring you, asking for updates about your life, and trying to get Sally to set the stage for him but not talking to you directly is odd and he needs to stop it right now, so, help him out with that.

And if this is all projection/matchmaking by Sally, oops, you blocked a total stranger who doesn’t actually know who you are. Not a big deal at the end of the day.

Possible Reaction: John will get the message and leave you and the entire topic of you alone. Good news everyone! This Choose Your Own Adventure Story ends here!

Probable  Reaction: John will notice what you did immediately and he will contact Sally to see what happened. Sally will then ping you to talk about John and his Johnfeels of rejection. (If this happens, please keep reading Step 2)

Step 2: Tell Sally that the whole John thing made you really, really uncomfortable and you don’t want her to set you up for any more “hitting on” scenarios or act as your romantic go-between. Also you’d prefer to keep your information completely private where John is concerned, so, you’d appreciate it if she didn’t update him on your job search or your life or pass on requests from him.

Possible Reaction: Sally will say, “Oh wow, sorry for making you uncomfortable, I get it, don’t worry about a thing.” If this happens, keep enjoying whatever you enjoy about your “distant friendship” with Sally! Here endeth this Choose Your Own Adventure Tale! Yaaay!

Possible Reaction: Sally will be hurt that you didn’t appreciate her matchmaking efforts or feel bad for John and think you’re mean for rejecting him and she’ll double-down on John advocacy. If this happens, please continue reading Steps 3 and 4.

Step 3: Do not give Sally reasons for your rejection of John. “I prefer not to.” “I’m just not interested.” Don’t pick apart his actions or his undesirable qualities or give excuses about being busy – she’ll use whatever you say to convince you to “give him a chaaaaaaaance.”

Step 4: If Sally continues sharing your info with John and trying to play matchmaker in your life after you’ve said “no,” block Sally or, if you’re reluctant to do that after 10 years, put her in that Facebook-Jail thingy where she can’t see any of your posts for a good while.

If you miss Sally you can always dig up her number down the road (and get her a copy of Austen’s Emma for the next gifting holiday). If John wanted to ask you out he could have come to the party, had a normal conversation with you and said “Hey, want to grab a drink with me sometime?” without all the fanfare. He could have also asked Sally straight up for an introduction (and respected your resulting “no thanks” when and if it came). He could have sent you a friend request and a note that says “I’m a friend of Sally’s, I saw you on the invite list, mind if we connect here?” Even if he’d chosen a less creepy and roundabout method of getting in touch, you’re not interested, so, farewell, John, we hardly knew ye.

For those who like to matchmake (I sometimes like to matchmake, especially “you live in the same city and I think you’d make good friends” matchmaking), I recommend asking the people in advance, like, “Hey, I’d love to introduce you to a friend of mine who lives in your city/does what you do for a living/reminds me of you/keeps sending me the exact same Twin Peaks memes that you send, I think you’d really get along, would that be cool?” and then if it is cool with both people I make a quick introduction and then I get out of the middle of things – the people will either find their own conversation or they won’t. If it’s not cool, I drop the subject. The matchmaker’s ego and investment in the outcome < the interest and wishes of the matchmakees.

126 comments
  1. attica said:

    I endorse all of CA’s suggestions.

    In my experience, this kind of out-of-the-blue over-investment in somebody’s love life has signaled one of two things: 1) Sally is into John but either it’s not reciprocated / reciprocated yet, or she knows he’s a bad match for her and she’s projecting/deflecting/playing out the fishing line; 2) Sally is into the LW and may not be conscious of it yet/ may be discomfited by same-sex attraction and is projecting/deflecting/playing out the fishing line. Neither of these scenarios should alter what LW’s response should be, however. Just something to contemplate.

    • CoffeegirlKarin said:

      Option 3: John is into Sally, she isn’t into him and she wants to pass him on to LW (that’s happened to me a few times and it’s gross).

      • anon said:

        Yeah, Option 3 has happened to me, as well. I felt it was kind of insulting and ungenerous to both me and the feelings-haver.

        • Option 4: Someone else is interested in LW. Sally is interested in that someone else. Sally is trying to match LW with John in order to eliminate competition. Never mind if LW may be or may be not interested in that someone else. Sally just sees LW as a romantic threat that might disappear if LW is not “available” anymore.

          I have been there and it sucks because the main conclusion is that all along your “friend” didn´t see you as a “friend” but as an “enemy”. There goes an African violet, thankyouverymuch.

    • zeph said:

      Oh! Until you mentioned the possibility, I’d forgotten, but are you ever on the money with option #1 ! I had a (f) friend who kept talking about this man who was so awesome and I should meet him, we’d be a great match etc etc etc. Finall met him at a dinner party — super snoozefest for a girl such as I, but she eventually married him!

  2. Zara Thustra said:

    I wonder, though – is John actually as invested in OP as Sally claims? From what’s in the letter, it looks like John has neither connected with OP nor tried to. He may well be creeping on her FB profile…but it seems possible that Sally is exaggerating or maybe even inventing John’s interest. She could be doing that bc (a) she thinks it makes him sound more appealing & will help with the matchmaking, (b) she took some offhand comment John made about OP being cute or whatever — and there are totally benign situations in which he could’ve done so, like matchmaker Sally asking his opinion — and her imagination ran wild with it; (c) Sally actually likes John herself and is doing some weird fantasy projection; (d) Sally actually likes OP herself and is doing some weird fantasy projection; or (e) god only knows why else.

    In no way am I suggesting that blockage shouldn’t be deployed whenever someone feels uncomfortable like this. But I think it’s worth noting that this whole scenario rests on Sally’s say-so. Sally’s persistence in attempting a setup already suggests she’s misread the OP in a serious, even willful way. So it’s worth asking whether Sally’s take on John is any more accurate than her take on the OP, because Sally may be the actual problem here.

    • JenniferP said:

      I agree with all of this! I think the block is a way for the Letter Writer to put the entire question of John to rest for herself. Is he creeping on her? Doesn’t matter, bye John! Is it all Sally’s projection? Doesn’t matter, bye John! No need to be fair or get entirely to the bottom of it, just remove the dude from the equation, and then talk to the friend.

      • zeph said:

        While I competely agree with your sage advice, I sincerely hope that LW’s blockage of apparently-ardent (according to possibly hare-brained Sally) John doesn’t make LW more mysteriously alluring to the guy.

        • JenniferP said:

          She can’t control that but she can control what he can see of her online.

        • Emma9 said:

          Unless I’m misremembering (very possible) how this works on FB and other sites, John wouldn’t get a big flashing ‘LW blocked you, that coy little minx!’ notification, she just would not be there/friendable/etc the next time he went to search for her. If his interest *is* mostly in Sally’s head, hopefully he isn’t repeatedly cyber-searching for someone he’s never even spoken to.

    • Lily said:

      Yeah, it’s also possible that John thinks they’re in the early state of being matchmaked because Sally told him so, so his interest wouldn’t be creepy, but rather “normally interested in a potential match”. (Doesn’t change anything, of course).

      • Marna Nightingale said:

        Exactly. And I want to add to that, in case someone’s reading this and thinking “that could really hurt John’s feelings!”

        Yes, it could. In which case it will NOT be LW who has hurt John’s feelings. It will be Sally, who will owe John a copious apology.

        • Even if LW hurts John’s feelings, so what? She owes him nothing.

    • Tempe said:

      I was “John” in the b) scenario. I told Mutual Friend *once* that I thought a friend of hers (actually named John, strangely enough) was cute. Found out way later that Mutual Friend waaaaaay exaggerated my interest to him, to the point where he was super creeped out. I think she just got overenthusiastic about “awesome person + awesome person = awesomeness!!” Actual John avoided me, which is what I would have done in his position. I didn’t really notice – given that he wouldn’t normally have been in my life – and when I found out the situation later I just kinda shrugged.
      Whatever the situation, LW definitely shouldn’t worry about that John’s feelings as she’s keeping herself and her information safe. Or Sally’s feelings, at least about a blunt, “I do not want any kind of intervention in my dating life. Please stop.”

    • Megsammor said:

      I agree with this. I do think we need to give John a little berth in this situation (he didn’t even show up to the party, AKA his big chance to make a connection.) This could just be a situation where Sally is trying very hard to bring some value to the friendship, and dragging in a dead mouse (sorry John.)

    • twomoogles said:

      This was where my mind went, too, so I’m glad it wasn’t just me. Of course, it’s definitely possible that John is being super creepy, but since you can more easily disengage from him by just blocking him, I’d be a bit worried about Sally’s level of investment here. I mean, blocking John is no harm no foul regardless of whether or not he’s actually been weird about it, you don’t owe him Facebook friendship etc. just because he’s reasonable. But I’d be seriously questioning Sally’s interpretation of events here.

      I have had friends in the past tell me that somebody was “really into me” when it was a major exaggeration and it caused embarrassment all around. I *did* once have a situation where somebody decided I was the girl of his dreams based on one picture, though – I was young and dumb and indulged it. Luckily the guy was more of the benign/irritating type and I lived 1,000 miles away (so “indulging it” was “chatting on MSN messenger”, yes this was like 2003 why do you ask?), but it was still not ideal…

    • Tea Rocket said:

      I wondered the same thing. If Sally were more socially savvy (assuming she is sincerely trying to get John and the LW together), she wouldn’t have said anything to either the LW or John about meeting each other. She could have waited until they both attended a party of hers, introduced them, and then let the two of them decide on their own if they wanted to get to know each other better.

      For all we know, John wants to write a similar letter:

      Dear Captain Awkward,

      I have a casual acquaintance, “Sally”, who keeps trying to set me up with her friend, “Lisa”. Sally showed me Lisa’s Facebook profile, and while I could see she’s pretty, Sally’s intensity about getting us together is really off-putting. I was going to go to Sally’s birthday party, but ended up skipping it at the last minute. I was later informed that Lisa was there and very disappointed not to get to meet me. I’m starting to wonder if this is some kind of scam. Sally mentioned a couple of times that Lisa is currently job-hunting, which, coupled with her apparent eagerness to meet me makes me think Lisa might be hoping for some sort of sugar-daddy arrangement, (which I would not be interested in).

      Sally has asked me several times when I would be free to meet Lisa, and so far, I’ve stalled by saying, “I imagine she’s busy with her job search, so probably once that’s over,” and “Whenever she wants to meet me.” I’m not opposed to meeting Lisa (or at least, I wasn’t initially), but I am worried that one or both of Lisa and Sally has an ulterior motive, because really, who is this pushy about they’ve never met and know practically nothing about?

      Do you have any scripts for getting Sally to drop this?

      Sincerely,
      John

      This is all to say that the Captain’s advice still applies. Either John’s innocent in all of this and not really that keen to meet the LW, so won’t notice or care about being blocked, or he’s exactly the way Sally has conveyed him to be to the LW, in which case, he’s making the LW uncomfortable, and should be blocked anyway. But really, John hasn’t actually done anything concrete at this point (which is to say, he has not interacted with the LW at all) and is—for all intents and purposes—an abstraction. Sally is the real problem.

      • Elenna said:

        Or it’s the scenario you described above and John is getting annoyed/suspicious enough that he’s keeping some tabs on LW online, in which case he’ll probably be confused but relieved if/when the LW blocks him. Win-win!

      • Chris said:

        This might well be John’s letter. I have been the LW in this situation, though, and in my case it ultimately turned out to be a combination of John + Sally feeding the situation. I think in some ways they were bonding over analyzing the whole situation and didn’t realize the pressure they were putting on me. Also, my situation was at work so I think John felt like it was less awkward to have an intermediary talk to me — and apparently didn’t realize that he was only increasing the pressure and awkwardness for me. The one time I tried to talk to him directly about what people were saying he said he had no idea what I was talking about — and then apparently zipped right back to Sally and others to say I had tried to talk to him about it! And, no, we were not high-schoolers….

    • Celeste said:

      I totally think this is a Sally problem. She needs a diversion from her own life, so she’s chosen to play puppet show, starring LW and John as the puppets.

  3. Beth Hicks said:

    As a single lady who shares her dating experiences on FB, I SO feel your pain. A lot of my friends assume that I’ll be excited by set ups. (I am not. I do not like to be set up by friends. Too much pressure. Too much baggage.)

    I would say that I don’t necessarily think Sally is into John OR you (Though she might be!) My set ups always come from partnered people who just can’t bear that such a great lady is single! And want to remedy that as soon as possible. Matchmaking feels exciting! We get to watch as two people we know maybe fall for each other and get married and make babies and grow old together. As someone who never matchmakes for a number of reasons, I get it, but I also run from it.

    Captain’s suggestions are spot on. Do NOT feel like you have to dance around the situation or be nice. It’s making you feel weird. It would be making me feel weird too. John’s insistence on knowing when you find a job so he can take you out is gross. Because it gives you no agency. So block John with no hesitation or guilt. Block Sally if she doesn’t understand your feelings. It is not your job to negotiate other people’s bad behavior to try to keep the peace or make everyone ELSE comfortable while you are not happy about the situation.

  4. Wait wait, I’m confused – has John said any of this to you directly? It sounds like you’re getting all of this through Sally, in which case I can almost guarantee you that you have not heard from John at all. I find it far more likely that this is all Sally’s impression of John who “super duper wants to meet you for sure A+ 100%” and that John might be hearing “secondhand” from a similarly imagined version of you.

    Unless you’ve talked to him directly, I’d bet money on John not being nearly as weird or invested in this as Sally is, so you might want to focus most of your energies there.

    • Rhoda said:

      Yes, I’m wondering if he’s really as interested in meeting LW as Sally seems to think. Perhaps she pesters him to meet LW, he rolls his eyes, says, “Sure, whatever” just to get her off his back, and she interprets that in her own mind as “He really wants to meet LW!”

      • Or John could be pestering Sally, and she feels like she has to be “nice” and fob him off on LW to shut John up.

  5. Allya said:

    I strongly agree with the commenters who have suggested John is not nearly as invested in you as Sally is implying, though there’s no harm in preemptively blocking him and, as the Captain says, removing him from the equation entirely. One additional advantage to this is that if John is actually getting a similarly creepy version of your interest in him presented by Sally, this sends a pretty strong message that you’re not actually stalking him or even interested in communicating with him. Not that it really matters what he thinks since you have literally never met the guy, but it’s a bonus upside to think about.

    Regarding Sally’s reasons, one possibility that does not involve projecting a crush is Sally being unhappy with her own love life and projecting/trying to distract herself from that. Or perhaps she’s just recently read Emma and completely missed the point of it and decided to try her own hand at matchmaking! (I have…… been there…… fortunately for everyone, it was a non-starter and I lost interest very quickly…….) I don’t necessarily think it’s useful to speculate about the why, especially if you are not close friends. Regardless of the reason, this is a totally reasonable thing to set boundaries around. I wish you luck with it!

  6. Dear LW,

    I, too, perceive the attention as coming from Sally, not John. The situation reads (to me) as Sally thinks John and you are both nice and she is trying to whip up interest from both of you.

    But that doesn’t really matter! You still should block John. The rest of the Captain’s advice is also good. I especially like the part in which you allow Sally to pick her level of friendship with you, by virtue of how she reacts to your No More John boundary.

    On a different subject, even if Sally is a bad source of boyfriends, meeting through friends is a time honored method for good reasons. (Not least of which is that meeting through work can get messy.)

  7. Esme said:

    There may be more info that’s not been included here, but from what I can tell, John has never made any contact whatsoever, and all information about his level of interest has come from Sally. I can’t even tell from the letter that the LW has enough information about John took block him on FB. With a bit of luck, this is actually only a Sally problem.

  8. Is John the root cause of the problematic shit? Is Sally the root cause of the problematic shit? Who do either of these people wo are not the LW have what feelings for? LITERALLY WHO CARES, some problematic shit is happening and the LW doesnt like it.

    My happiness in social situations increased a lot when I moved from asking ‘what is the cause of this poor behaviour/situaiton?’ to ‘do I want this behaviour/situation to be happening & what can I do about that?’

    Sally and John’s potential SECRET INNER MOTIVATIONS are super irrelevant to what actions the LW can take to make themselves feel safer and less uncomfortable, y’all.

    • JenniferP said:

      Yes, exactly!

    • Thanksforallthefish said:

      2nded

    • B. said:

      Amen. The LW doesn’t owe any explanations/energy/emotional work to anybody regarding who she adds or blocks or ignores on her facebook account. It’s *her* internet space, not Sally’s and not John’s either.

    • I’d say there’s some small value in knowing whether John is super over-invested, just as a personal protection thing. What’s driving Sally is irrelevant because she should have stepped the hell off when she got a no thanks; even if John is texting her every 10 minutes that’s her problem and she should be telling him to back up. The only reason to share any more about John with LW is if she has to say “this dude has gone off the deep end and if he tries to contact you directly let me know so I can back you in whatever personal measures you want to take.”

      I suspect a lot of the comments of “this is probably all Sally” is meant to be reassuring to LW. Or perhaps motivated by having the same reaction to Sally that I am, which is to think maybe she’s more trouble than she’s worth as a friend if she’s this crappy about respecting your preferences.

      • Turtle Candle said:

        That’s how I interpreted it, too. Well, that and that if the problem is Sally and not John, there’s a high likelihood that blocking John won’t do much for her behavior, which is useful for LW to have in mind. If the problem is Sally, then “I’m not interested in John” may just prompt her to try again with someone else. “I want you to quit it and never matchmake me again” is a message I would give if I thought that Sally was the root problem.

      • BarlowGirl said:

        I agree. Also, if Sally is saying things about John that aren’t true, what is she saying about the LW to other people??

    • MK said:

      In this particular situation, I disagree that it doesn’t matter who the “root cause of the problematic shit” is. Or, it makes no difference as far as the LW reaction to John, but,when it comes to Sally, it would matter to me whether she is an overeager matchmaker egged on by John’s willingness to meet the LW or bordeline delusional about other people’s personal lives. It would be the difference between giving Sally a stern lecture about respecting boundaries vs. slowly backing out of the friendship.

      • This is where we disagree – the work of differentiating one of those situations from the other is emotional labour that the LW doesn’t have to perform.

        They can decide to tell Sally not to do it again or to remove Sally from their life based on how uncomfortable they *already are* – and if they choose the first option and Sally then does other things they’re unhappy with to the point of not wanting Sally in their life, they can move to the second option. No agonising necessary.

        • MK said:

          I don’t disagree that the LW doesn’t “have to” perform this emotional labour; what I am saying is that I (and I think many people) would want to invest this labour so that I can make the best decision for myself, because that would actually affect how uncomfortable I would be about Sally.

          It’s like going to buy a product which lists all the specifications on the box, except the color. If you don’t actually care about what color it is, you can make a decision based on the information you have; if you do, you open the box or ask someone who works at the store.

          • I think what I’m finding frustrating is that the LW came here asking for *advice on what to do* and instead got a whole load of people pointlessly speculating about who feels what. The vast majority of comments on this post contain no thoughts about what the LW *could actually do*, and this is not normal for a Captain Awkward comment section.

            If when someone does something you don’t like, you want to perform intricate emotional calculus to try and figure out why they’re doing it, you do you. But what I said in my original post above was that my life got a lot happier when I stopped doing that and just started taking people at their actions, and I think LW might be in the same boat.

          • JenniferP said:

            Once again: ENDORSED. People’s motivations don’t really matter. The Letter Writer has the power to shut all of this down, hard, without putting any more emotional labor miles on her poor head!

  9. Captain, people who ask before friend setups are the best! I have met lots of great people through friends, and also have happy memories of the time a Friend With Patience Towards Irritable Opinionated People (which is no doubt why she sticks by me) dropped me a line on LiveJournal saying ‘may I introduce you to X, who shares some interests with you’, I wrote back with ‘X and I have already met on forums related to Shared Interest and we are not compatible’, Friend said ‘No worries!’ and everyone’s boundaries remained happily in place.

    • THIS. Oh God this. Nothing kills a friendship faster than when poor non-confrontational me has to put out a fire that you started.

      • Thanksforallthefish said:

        I feel such strong regret for the time I tried to force some dude on my bff from childhood while in college. The dude was super not cool. I was functioning from the weird “being coupled is great! everyone should do it!” fallacy but the guy was a total creep. I’m sooo grateful she did not disown me for my college behavior.

  10. Totally aware of my privilege here as a dude, but I honestly think Sally is the problem. She’s shown that she doesn’t care about whether or not you want to date (which is a BIG boundary violation in my book), and she also surrounds herself with people you don’t click with. Also, there’s probably no way I can prove this, but the whole John thing seems just too weird to not be initiated and egged on by Sally. If he were *that* creepily invested, he would have shown up to the party in the first place. I think this will probably happen again, as Sally has set you up as her “fixer-upper friend.” Trust me, I’ve been there. It is not a happy hole to be pegged in. You’ll do well to quickly distance herself in your life. People who think that casually about your boundaries don’t just magically get it.

    Like I said, I could be completely wrong (and please, someone yell at me if I’m off base haha), but Occam’s Razor is leaning towards Sally being the problem.

    • Also, hi everyone! Long time lurker, first time commenter. 🙂

      • Rhoda said:

        Welcome! Come for the Captain’s advice… stay for the pithy comments below the line!

    • Thanksforallthefish said:

      Welcome! I think you probably nailed the angle on this one. Sally is likely the big problem here.

      I will, however, say the John thing is totally plausible unfortunately. The creepy dudes can totally creep from afar. Someone once developed a terrifying fixation on my friend. She maybe interacted with him once in some social media group and he said he was new to the area and wanted to make friends so she invited him to a large group thing (she would invite anyone to it cuz she loves it). Stalkery behavior: [tw]He showed up to the event, never approached her or introduced himself, watched her from afar and made detailed notes of ever single dude she interacted with and then wrote her a long email later describing everything that went down and throwing in some definite jealousy and judgement over every dude she even made eye contact.[/tw]

      Cops were contacted. Apparently this is a known thing this dude does around town and they were monitoring him. Apparently this wasn’t enough to put him away?!

      Creeppy!!!

      • GG said:

        Oh, my God, I am so sorry that happened to your friend. That is seriously creepy.

        For what it’s worth, I definitely think Sally needs to become a ‘small-doses’ friend (smaller than she is already, because damn, not even my closest friends would think of setting me up with somebody like that, let alone casual acquaintances.) I also think that there is ultimately no harm in blocking John online. A Facebook wall is your own space – you allow others to see it and write things on it. You do not owe anybody access, though, and you can revoke it whenever you want. If John is not a creeper, he will either not notice the blockage (because he isn’t looking at her profile, or trying to find it, or monitoring her, because he is not as invested as Sally makes him out to be) or he will not care. If he is a creeper, then the LW sends a clear, unambiguous message.

        This is gonna sound obvious, but LW, you need to look after yourself. Your boundaries are your own. You don’t need to know the whole story of John and Sally and their potential motives. What you need to know is: how they make you feel (uncomfortable) and how they behave when you assert your boundaries (which will become apparent when you block him.) I sometimes get the feeling that our entire Western dating culture is built around the idea that anybody can be your One True Love if it wasn’t for Some Misunderstanding and if you Just Keep An Open Mind And Give Them A Chaaaaaaaaaaaaance then everything will be fine. (See: any romcom, Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, and Jane Austen’s entire body of work.)(As pointed out already.) Actually, it doesn’t matter if John is the LW’s One True Love or a creeper or just some dude that happened to say to Sally that her friend looks nice. What the LW knows is that a situation is making her uncomfortable, and she would like it to stop. Her comfort is more important than John’s ‘losing face’ (if that is even a thing on FB.)

      • AllanV said:

        That dude did at least show up to the party so he could watch her with those other guys, though. I’m still inclined to agree that if John were really that interested he’d’ve been more likely to creep on LW from across the room at a party than not go to the party at all.

    • Not that it matters to the OP, but I think John is actually the person Sally has tagged as her “fixer upper” friend. If Sally has never done something like this in their 10 years of friendship it sounds more like she has analyzed the list of all her single friends and determined OP is the one that will solve all John’s problems and he’s just as uncomfortable or painfully shy, which is why he didn’t show to the party. The “after you’ve found a job” line sounds like John’s excuse for delaying a meeting further.

      Again, doesn’t matter to OP what the reasoning is, but since she has been friends with Sally for so long I think it would be fair to say something like, “hey, it seems like you’re suddenly trying to play match maker for me when I’m not really interested in that. What’s with the sudden investment in my love life?” Sally may have a response that allows OP to shut down the behavior and move on with their friendship (or decided to fade out, depending on what she says).

      On a semi unrelated note, when oh when will people learn that they proper way to attempt a setup is to introduce 2 people in a neutral situation with a “hey, this is John. He’s also super into *Hobby*, isn’t that neat?” and then walk away and let them decide if they want to chat for a while or do anything beyond that. No pressure for the potential matchees and, if they do get together and things don’t work out, the matchmaker doesn’t have guilt over the way things played out.

  11. bad at screen names said:

    Sally wanting to suddenly know your dating history actually bothers me the most about this. You have been friends for 10 years and she has never asked, and you go to what you think is an innocent dinner where she wants your dating wikipedia stub and only then does she tell you that she wants to set you up with somebody? Dinner girltalk about old boyfriends is going to be a different conversation than what you would tell a potential date about yourself – we already know that she’s talking about you to him and had you opened up to her it sounds like she would have told him about it, when you would have meant it to be for an audience of one.

    • I read Sally’s interest in LW’s dating history differently. I thought Sally was trying to figure out if John and LW might be a viable match, before trying to set them up. Yes, I know that once LW says she’s not interested, John becomes unviable.

  12. jmm said:

    Matchmakers have 1 of 2 motivations:

    1. There’s someone they want to fob off on you.
    2. They have a crush on the person and want to live it vicariously through you or, better yet, use it as a way to get the person to say, “No, you’re the person I want to be with.”

    It’s usually motivation 2.

    • Koffee82 said:

      Wow @ motivation 2. I’m floored because I think this happened to me. I had a relative once ask to set me up with someone. The same night (or maybe it was the next night) she talked to me about it, she had invited him out with us for the evening after getting the OK from me. [In hindsight, I wonder if she used me as an excuse to invite him cause she wanted to see him?!] He showed up and it got really awkward. He didn’t really make an effort to engage with me/wasn’t assertive. I felt self-conscious and uncomfortable with her being there. It was a group outing so it wasn’t just the 3 of us. Towards the end of the night, my relative and this guy were sitting on a couch looking cozy, and chatting it up! While I sat on a chair next to the couch feeling like I had crashed the party. It was a strange experience. My relative and I never discussed it after that night. I didn’t know what to think. I thought maybe he just wasn’t interested. I NEVER thought that SHE had a crush on him and that that was the primary motivation for the whole debacle…until this very moment! I kinda feel silly right now because it seems so obvious as I’m writing this out. lol

      Yeah, OP, Sally may be up to no good here. I agree that her sudden interest in your dating life is a red flag. It was the same with my relative. We had never discussed my dating life up to that point.

    • B. said:

      [citation needed]

    • boutet said:

      Nah, there’s loads more. Like the “I want my friend to date someone I get along with so I’ll hook him up with another friend” or “my friend needs to FIND JESUS so I’ll hook her up with evangelical friend X” or “I’m so bored, how about a spicy romance I can observe” or “I’m married and working on kids and I want my friend to be in the same boat so I’ll hook her up with a guy in a hurry” and many more yet.

      It doesn’t matter overmuch what Sally’s motives are in the end though. Her response to the boundary of “no John thanks” will be info enough on how to proceed.

      • clorinda said:

        Sometimes even there’s the goodhearted and benign, “my two friends would be so great together, I should introduce them and maybe they’ll click.” That’s not Sally, though. She’s way too invested in a relationship that clearly is not going to happen.

        • Emmers said:

          Yeah, for me, it’s total Geek Social Fallacy #4.

      • Clarry said:

        Also: I like to control everything, don’t admit it, and justify my actions with the other excuses like the one about just wanting to introduce 2 people who have something in common.

        (Why does everything EVERYTHING on this blog remind me of my mother? First she’d sing the guy’s praises. When I said no, not interested, she’d act like that was fine, but then he’d show up, just happen to be there, the next time I was at my parents’ for dinner. One time she asked me if I’d like to date the guy; I said no, but then she never canceled. When he called and she answered the phone and told me it was him, I didn’t think it important to get up to talk to him. I’d already told her I wasn’t interested. She wouldn’t even go back to the phone to tell him no. Best to put me in that awkward position.)

    • Lily said:

      I’m a matchmaker and it’s usually “Oh, A complains a lot about being single and looks really unhappy about it, let’s look if there’s someone in my aquaintances who is nice and who would like to have a date, too.

      Yeah, it’s possible to have annoying motives, but it’s not the only version.

      • So much of this. I don’t particularly enjoy matchmaking, but I have a lot of straight guyfriends, some of whom are even exes (who I can personally vouch for as excellent partners who just weren’t for me because they do this one harmless-but-obnoxious-to-some thing that I just can’t live with). Many express sadness at how hard it’s been to find a good partner in a hugely male-skewing area. If they mention that someone they met briefly through me is cute, I will often ask if they’d like an introduction because I love them and want to see them find a partner that can give them the partner level companionship that they need but don’t have. It’s definitely not because I want to fob off the mass of women hitting on me (I’m a she, so I feel like this would be particularly dumb since not all women who like women like men?). It’s also not because I want these dudes to suddenly realize their love for me and sweep me into the sunset. I’m happily married with an agreement that strictly prohibits a romantic, in love relationship with some third human. I would not be pleased if one of these dudes that I rely on for emotional support and sometimes sexual variety declared their undying love for me, because that would disrespect my marriage, disrespect my clear boundaries I’ve set around what kind of intimate friendships and/or casual sexual arrangements I am comfortable with, and end any close friendship or occasional play. And I’d be doubly annoyed if they assumed that because I wanted to set them up with a woman they said they were attracted to, I was secretly hoping they would fall in love with me despite my clear words (I love you as a friend and you are fun to sleep with but Husband is and always will be my only romantic love) and actions (setting them up with someone who isn’t me to be a source of romantic love).

        Jmm–this isn’t to pile onto you and say that people don’t match make for reasons 1 and 2 sometimes. It’s just to say that mature healthy people don’t do 2 and almost never do 1 (I guess I might fob someone obnoxious on to someone I thought was obnoxious on the same way because that thing that annoys me is apparently great to them, so two birds with one stone–like if I knew a girl who kept trying to help me find Jesus and a guy continuously asked me to find Jesus and also have dinner with him, those two might get introduced). So unless you have some other reason to believe that a matchmaker has some underlying issue with being forthright about rejection/liking people… It’s probably a disservice to that person to assume one of two dark motives, when many healthy adult friends set their relationship-seeking healthy adult friends up because healthy adult friends like helping their buddies out.

    • I have literally never encountered either of those scenarios.

      Everyone I’ve known who has introduced people (or has offered to) did so because they thought the people in question would hit it off. That’s it.

  13. Nanani said:

    You told Sally you’re not interested in dating and she took it upon yourself to RAM COMPULSORY HETEROSEXUAL COUPLING THROUGH ALL THE BOUNDARIES!! You have a Sally problem and reinforcing boundaries is the way to go.
    Collateral damage to John is Sally’s problem too.

    • BarlowGirl said:

      As an aroace, I am INCREDIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE with that also.

    • IrishEm said:

      As someone who is struggling with being demi I am also feeling all the squicks around Sally’s behaviour here. Like, I have the best friends who will invite me to things but not press me to make any Instant Romantic Connections!!!!!!! (Especially when I gave one friend a blow-by-blow account of one date I went on where I visibly flinched because the guy wanted to give me a pack on the lips – they now know that IrishEm is not going to take to straightforward matchmaking, so they will tell me about Person X and Person Y at *event* that they think I might like to chat with and get to know. All very low key, all letting me figure out by myself whether it’s going to be a viable friendship or relationship. Sally needs to take a few lessons from them.

      • onyx said:

        I remember getting scolded by my own mother for doing the old dodge-the-kiss-and-just-give-an-uncomfortable-hug maneuver with a guy my brother set me up with. I’m ace, I’d explained at that point I was ace, but nooooo. Surely hooking me up with someone would “fix” it.

        It’s gross on any level, but there’s definitely an extra layer of “ick” when the the person in LW’s position is on the ace spectrum.

        • I want to ask your mother (if you can get pregnant) if she’d prefer an ace child or a child with an unplanned pregnancy. That should shut her up.

          • Aris Merquoni said:

            … I’m actually uncomfortable with this, since those are not mutually exclusive groups of people.

          • B. said:

            What. jennylinskyb, that’s a very weird and icky thing to say!

          • So is a mother trying to get her asexual adult child to hook up with someone!

          • Clarry said:

            Those sorts of quick come-back arguments are for talking reasonably with reasonable people. Or for a situation where 2 people are talking about what a character in a book or movie might hypothetically say in a hypothetical argument when the movie character is in a sit-com situation of being set-up with an unappealing blind date and comically dodging the hug. It works in the movies. In the movies, one character comes out with a line like that, and the other other character blanches and suddenly sees the light, and the audience laughs. In real life, not so much. In real life, the overbearing controlling character never gets it, might even think that an unplanned pregnancy was all that was needed for a happy ending.

          • Of course not. However, if the mother is conservative or evangelical, she may be horrified by the prospect of her adult child (assuming said child can get pregnant) having an unplanned pregnancy. Having a child out of wedlock was considered the worst thing a girl could do in the culture I grew up in.

          • Vicki said:

            Aside from the implications that onyx agrees that being ace is bad, there’s a nontrivial chance that her mother would say “I want a grandchild, and I’ll love your children whenever they’re born, planned or not.” There are a lot of people who think of sex as something men like and women put up with, and often the reason women are expected to “put up with” something that’s assumed to be tedious or unpleasant is in order to become pregnant.

            A comment like that is unlikely to help onyx’s mother understand asexuality, or realize that this is an important aspect of her daughter’s identity.

          • BarlowGirl said:

            You know some asexual people can and do have sex, right? Maybe don’t defend aphobia with more aphobia.

            Also there’s nothing wrong with having an unplanned pregnancy, and they shouldn’t be demonized/stigmatized.

          • Raptor said:

            I mean, if she’s one of those pushy wanna-be grandmas, and she thinks it’s her “one shot” at grandchildren…

  14. The Green Door said:

    Before I got married I had a friend that was Just Determined to fix me up because “we have to find you a man.” She’d even tell me a mean-funny story about some guy and what a loser/jerk/how ugly he is than her eyes would light up and she’d say, “Ooh, I should set you up!!”. (So, she apparently found me so desperate that I should be happy to be fixed up with said loser? Thanks!) It got to the point where I’d dread social engagements with her because I was so worried she’d spring some guy on me.

    I finally had to drop her as a friend. Because, what a shitty thing to keep on doing to a friend who keeps on saying “no.”

    As far as this guy, I believe that when most people really want someone/something they don’t let things (or an intermediary like Sally) stand in their way. They go for it. If this guy was really interested in getting to know LW, he’d’ve asked for a real face-to-face introduction or introduced himself via FB. He wouldn’t hide behind Sally. This is weird. All of the Captain’s advice is sound.

    • Ha! My Sally was really annoyed when I cut ties with my John because of stalkerish behaviour online, and she told me in the face that I was being stupid because the way I was (I don´t know, I must be a very shitty person) John was the best I could aim for. Yep, I could only aim for a patronising jerk who always knew better and for whom I didn´t even feel a physical attraction.

  15. Indoor Cat said:

    Also, maybe this sounds harsh, but, you know, you can block Sally too.

    Like, she’s your distant friend. So, not bff. Not respecting your no is a perfectly valid reason to say you don’t want to be friends anymore and then, you know, stop being friends.

    • Turtle Candle said:

      That was my thought, too. You’re not especially close friends, she’s not respecting your “no,” and if this is motivated by her and not by John (which I think is very possible, maybe even likely) then “no, I don’t want to date John” is likely to just make her try again with Matt, Steve, and Dan. In fact, if you decide to set a boundary rather than just blocking her, I’d be inclined to make the message be “I’m not interested in being set up with anyone” or “I prefer to manage my own friendships and romances, thanks,” rather than “I’m not interested in John,” because this weird pushiness is unlikely to remain contained in my experience.

    • Indoor Cat said:

      Also, maybe this sounds harsh, but, you know, you can block Sally too. Edit: I mean, you could block her right away without all the steps.

      Like, she’s your distant friend. So, not bff. Not respecting your no is a perfectly valid reason to say you don’t want to be friends anymore and then, you know, stop being friends.

  16. Zee said:

    I’m genuinely surprised that so many people think that Sally might have a crush on either John or the LW and is using the idea of connecting them as a way to fuel it because that’s so alien to my experience in which every overzealous matchmaker I’ve ever met or even heard about was someone who couldn’t stand the mere thought of anyone being uncoupled, even people who expressly stated that they preferred to be single, AND had an overarching need to be the center of attention at all times. The uninvited matchmakers I’ve known have pretty much always been people who quite obviously had a fantasy about attending the couple’s golden anniversary party and being surrounded by a ginormous circle of friends, family members, and everyone any of them has ever known, every single one of them paying homage to the REAL focus of the party: the person who introduced them.

    That being said, I 100 percent agree that it doesn’t matter what Sally’s motivations are and it doesn’t matter what John’s actual feelings might be. LW, take the Captain’s advice here to deal with this particular situation because it’s solid and then spend some time thinking about whether you really want to continue your friendship, even distantly, with Sally. If this is the first time you’ve ever had a serious conflict with Sally it can be easy to tell yourself, “Well, sure, this sucks but maybe I should give her another chance, it’s not ‘fair’ to cut her out over one disagreement” and so on. It’s totally okay to end a friendship at any time, really, but it’s really more than okay to end one when the “one disagreement” is this egregious.

    • sojournerstrange said:

      To somewhat guiltily follow the tangent– I think it’s that the LW doesn’t mention Sally having previously been super into matchmaking, maybe? So people come up with explanations for this unprecedented intense zeal. I myself have done that once… as a teenager! (It was basically a twisted-logic way to avoid dealing with my own squishy feelings.)

  17. Thanksforallthefish said:

    May the “Hammer of Blocking” fall swift and sure
    May Sally be put to rights
    May your future hold kittens, only dates you want, and friends who seek consent

  18. segertsch said:

    The suggestion of gifting “Emma” made me laugh so hard. Who knows? John may already be engaged to a girl of good family but limited means of whom his snobbish aunt would certainly disapprove, and John would feel compelled to date LW as a cover up only to have him/her try to pawn him off on someone else.

    They call it matchmaking because it’s playing with fire!

    • Indie said:

      Yeah I really did laugh out loud at that bit!

  19. Indie said:

    Oh I was so upset and annoyed when I was in this situation. Fortunately the ‘John’ in my situation was someone I had met briefly in RL and had been able to see for myself what the true deal was. That he wasn’t the least bit interested in me! It was all Sally’s idea.

    “You should date him! This not dating thing while you’re going through a wrenching divorce is silly! He likes you!”

    “Uh, no Sally, he so obviously has a ginormous and unrequited crush on you. Plus, I don’t like him, plus not dating right now AS YOU KNOW”

    “You are so coy!”

    I went away, fumed a bit. Went back to her and simply by initiating the conversation myself was able to convince her I wasn’t being maidenly and demure: “About John” *pained expression* “Oh god, you want me to stop don’t you?” She apologized, u-turned and was fine about it from then on..

    Matchmakers usually have the same motive: they want to rearrange their social circles so their favorite people are all within reach, conveniently coupled. Sometimes there’s something in it for them, like they want to derail a good friend’s crush on them, or to keep a drifting friend they like close inside the group. Good ones make sure they have clear, enthusiastic consent to do this and they don’t do the hack’s trick of pretending there’s greater interest to each party than there actually is.

    This experience actually made my friend a better matchmaker and she was helpful when I returned to the dating fray.

  20. Greg M. said:

    “John has also been asking Sally about me. He wants to know when I’ve found a job and want to meet him. I have never indicated I want to meet John. I’m refusing, there’s something odd about a person in their late twenties being this invested in someone because of their FB profile. I rarely if ever post on FB. He is also asking me out through my friend which seems manipulative.”

    you are a very smart person. It’s entirely possible that John’s a bit eager and is harmless but that’s a him problem he needs to learn how not to send the creep vibe. Also in general I think people need to get over the idea of blocking people as harsh. It’s part of how social media (should) work, you get to tailor your experience to you, you don’t have to subject yourself to someone making you uncomfortable. Someone’s a creep, block them, someone posts racist stuff, unfriend them. Sorry offtopic but it’s a stigma I see sometimes that leads people to putting up with negative experiences they shouldn’t have to.

  21. Cora said:

    If Sally has known you for ten years, wouldn’t she know that you’d be skeeved out by being told, “Oh, this guy is going to hit on you at my birthday party”? For goodness’ sake, I don’t even know you but rather just read one letter you wrote, and even *I* can figure that out.

    So, what’s with Sally, then? The fact that she suddenly grilled you about your dating life is weird, but kind of a separate issue. It’s that first action of deliberately telling you something that she KNOWS would skeeve you out that sets the tone here. Now she’s going on and on about this John guy (which we all agree he’s probably not even aware of) in further attempts to make you uncomfortable, knowing full well how much this bothers you.

    Someone above said it first, but I’ll reiterate: the problem is likely not John at all. The problem is Sally and her pretty snake-like behavior..

  22. Ishkabibble said:

    Agreeing with everyone else who thinks that if John really was interested in you, he would have come to the party, so this reads as coming entirely from Sally. I actually would just ignore the entire situation, but probably would avoid Sally from now on, or change the subject whenever she brings him up. Ugh!

    I actually like it when people set me up with their friends–it’s pre-vetted awesome people!–but it doesn’t work if you don’t meet the new person right away and talk to them directly. Some match-makers like to stay involved/in the middle for as long as possible, which actually prevents a new relationship from forming. So take note match-makers! Introduce and then get out of the way.

  23. Megan M. said:

    I also got vibes that since you’re hearing all of this from Sally, it might all actually be Sally’s perception and not what is actually happening. But, as the Captain and everyone has astutely pointed out – it doesn’t matter! John can still be blocked and Sally can either be blocked or severely limited (put on an information diet) until she shows that she can stop being pushy about this and drop it entirely. If she continues to be pushy, well, maybe it’s also time to block Sally.

  24. As someone like the captain who occasionally matchmaker friends (I don’t do relationships only friendships) I’m getting huge klaxon warning bells going off in my head about Sally. I mean I generally know about all my friends dating lives (or lack thereof for some aro/ace friends who don’t date) but that’s more my own curiosity to see their patterns because patterns. My matchmaking is exactly like the captain’s. “Hey I know you like x/y/z and I know someone who also likes x/y/z that I think you would mesh well with as friends would you be ok if I introduced you to them in a/b/c setting? If they would also be ok with it?” If both parties say yes then I introduce in a setting they are ok with that gives both an easy way out since most of my friends have issues with social awkwardness or anxiety or other mental illnesses. I won’t hover but I’ll be nearish most likely reading with the understanding that if they need me I’m available. If they say no or one says no I say ok and don’t press the issue or bring it up. Unless they later say they’ve changed their mind.

    And yes, I do get something out of it. When my friends make new friends with each other I get happy feeling of awesome. If it doesn’t work then momentary feeling of sad but then I read a book and things get right in the world….or as right as they ever get for me. But I enjoy seeing friends happy. Especially when they’ve just moved somewhere new.

    But the out of the blue interest in dating life and trying to talk out of what works for you and trying to convince you of someone who may or may not be interested in you that you are not interested in? Definitely protect yourself against BOTH of them and DON’T feel bad about it. The captain’s advice is spot on.

  25. I would suggest putting Sally into Facebook Jail as part of Step 3. Giving her another chance to share private information with John could open up the LW to being stalked or worse.

  26. Kitty said:

    I’m getting a pretty strong feeling that all or most of this is coming directly from Sally, and “John” is not quite as avid as it seems, if he even exists at all. Especially since Sally was already asking about LW’s dating life before “John” came on the scene, he never even came to the party, and had never contacted LW directly. I don’t know what Sally’s motive is for all this, but I’d consider making her am even more distant friend.

  27. Clarry said:

    Before blocking John, see what he looks like and save that picture. That way, when you run into John at a party of Sally’s, or even not at a party of Sally’s, and if John is using an alternate name, you have a heads up on who/what you’re dealing with.

  28. DameB said:

    I’ve been meditating on FB etiquette and the fact that blocking someone is considered mean or harsh or agressive. My choice to not interact with someone is mean?

    I had a friend of a friend get vicious on me on FB recently. She’d been growing more and more irrationally nasty over years. I unfollowed then I put her under acquaintances then I unfriended and simply left threads if she showed up. This time she launched a snarky attack for no reason (other than she dislikes me). When I blocked her I felt enormous relief. And some guilt.

    I have no problems blocking strangers. But this was felt different and I remember thinking that she’d been overtly vicious so now I could block her and it was ok. That’s clearly irrational. Why hasn’t I just blocked her before?

    Is this just a woman thing? Is it to do with how women aren’t supposed to have boundaries? Do dudes feel like that?

    • clorinda said:

      It’s the old “smile and be nice” in a new social space. Go ahead and block all the jerks! They don’t even have to be jerks, objectively. Block the people you don’t want to see, and do it with a clear conscience.

    • Hrovitnir said:

      I haaaate it. Personally I view blocking as kept for situations like you described – you’re being argumentative and mean for no reason? OK, bye. But I am mourning the fact that the Facebook-friends as a neutral and optional choice boat has sailed. I still stand by it, and am vocal in support of people who are wavering, but the norm is to be friends with everyone and filter what they see, or keep a super small friends list.

      I have got a lot out of Facebook, and it makes me sad. It’s a lot of work to manage such a space IMO and a lot of the changes on Facebook has made it much harder to build connection like I have done in the past. It’s aimed at people who don’t want to be open and sincere online, and want to act too cool for school about it.

      More specifically: what clorinda said. 😛

    • angle-a said:

      I found myself utilising fb in a way that wasn’t conducive to my wellbeing, coupled with mild vindictive stalking, fomo & blurry boundaries… I chose to opt out nearly 8 years ago & regularly mentally review the pros & cons of my choices. I don’t regret it. I have authentic relationships & I have the time to invest in them.
      I think if the tool is serving you, it’s fine, but once you serve the tool, things get tricky.
      OP, good luck. Sounds like you know your boundaries & that’s great. Captain, as always, considered, sensible & enjoyable. 😊

    • I sometimes think it’s related to the geek social fallacies. Excluding people is meeeeeaaan. Just give them a chaaaaaaaance. If you were reeeeeeeasonable you would hear them out. Etc.

      (It’s okay. Blocking people is primarily defensive, not offensive. I think sometimes it feels hard because it means openly defining them as someone you need to defend against, and that can feel like an accusation? But that doesn’t mean it’s not true.)

      • DameB said:

        yeah. That may be at least part of it. I love my friend, and he sometimes falls prey to that fallacy. I don’t think it’s dawned on him that I haven’t been to a party at his house in YEARS just because he always invites everyone.

    • PintsizeBro said:

      It’s… probably a “women aren’t supposed to have boundaries” thing. I don’t block people often because I don’t need to – usually I just unfriend them and they leave me alone. The women I know who have been in that same basic position (I’m done with this person and don’t want to deal with them anymore) have to deal with those people harassing them on mutual friends’ posts until blocking becomes a necessity.

      As far as having been unfriended/blocked/not added (e.g. “Elizagerth has added 90% of our LARP group but not me, I want to know if I’ve said or done something to offend her but it seems weird to ask why someone didn’t accept my friend request”) it can cause brainweasels and/or sadfeels, but a reasonable person will deal with those feels and move on. And an unreasonable person, well, that shows why it was a good idea to block them.

  29. Convallaria majalis said:

    As a person who likes to give people opportunities to get to know each other (only as friends; I like to organize board game nights and such) I now hope I have never caused anyone this much anxiety. After experiencing some toxic relationships my first thoughts are always about safety – in this case LW’s. Let’s hope that the situation is not really that grave, but it is always good to be prepared, to think once through the worst possible outcome. In my experience making plans and possibly even putting them in writing may lessen anxiety and give one’s mind some peace.

    The Captain gave excellent advice. I second beginning by a) saving John’s picture (like Clarry suggested above) and then blocking John and changing the settings of photos and profile picture etc.

    Someone gave previously a good point: it could be important to know what John has actually said (and how far from the LW John lives) because if John is indeed really this invested in LW, some safety precautions might really be in order. I wonder if the LW could just tell Sally bluntly that she is worried and creeped out by this and possibly even a bit afraid of John, that she really needs to know what John has said exactly to either relax or up the security measures. How long has Sally known John? What does she know about him? Either Sally is just really disrespectful/a truly bad matchmaker – or then she is scared of John herself or John has some other leverage to pressure Sally. The latter option seems very weird: who would match a distant friend and a creepy dude? It is not impossible, though; people do sometimes really strange things.

    As far as I understood, John’s only way to access LW’s information is through social media. Has Sally given John any of LW’s other information? Let’s hope not.

    Let’s hope the connection to John is severed with blocking him in social media, After that it is time to make it very clear to Sally that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and creepy, that it must stop. I wonder if Sally does not realise how creepy passing on John’s possible attentions is. Perhaps letting Sally see herself the freaking out about this would finally get the message through clearly: no more of this.

    Anyway, I hope LW gets swiftly rid of John and also can distance herself from Sally.

    • Kacienna said:

      “As a person who likes to give people opportunities to get to know each other (only as friends; I like to organize board game nights and such) I now hope I have never caused anyone this much anxiety.”

      I think inviting people who don’t know each other to the same event that you’re hosting is a totally normal way to socialize and is really different from setting up individual people against their will. At least I certainly hope it is, since I do it all the time!

  30. Elektra said:

    I think since all the pressure is coming from Sally steps 1 and 2 are *both* necessary to shut this whole thing down.

    If Sally was a good friend, I’d suggest softening it a little, but since she’s a distant friend I think a text with the message the Captain’s suggested would be perfect.

    As others have suggested, now is a good time for LW to reflect on their relationship to Sally. Are you interested in deepening your connection to this distant friend? If yes, now is a good litmus test to see whether she is the kind of person you want in your life. If no, now is a good time to direct your energy toward other people and activities that hold more pull for you, and let Sally take her (frankly weird) drama elsewhere.

  31. Erin McJ said:

    I don’t have advice, just wanted to offer some validation for the LW: yep, this is weird and in your shoes I’d be skeeved, too. Good luck!

  32. SophieK said:

    LW, you nailed in when you said there’s something odd about someone being so invested in you because of your FB profile. Say that to Sally. Because she should be defending your boundaries, not helping him violate them.

    Gonna say something that might get me in trouble with the commentariat (because it does with women in general.)

    I’m a 5’3″ cute, approachable, woman with a giant rack. So I get hit on a lot. Sounds good, right? Sometimes it’s nice. But mostly I don’t like it. I’m also hugely introverted, and had three different sexual aggressors by the age of nine (first one was at age three), and it’s only gone on from there.

    There are women in the world who get mad at me when I express my discomfort regarding being hit on. They tell me I actually like it and that I’m just humble bragging That I should just give Jim bob a chaaaaance. That Cletus just needs a good woman. That I’m being stuck up. Basically they are telling me I should lay back and enjoy it, and I *have*used that as a comeback.

    Sally sounds like one of these women. Tell her that she is making you uncomfortable and friends don’t do that to each other. Remind her that friends have each other’s backs and that it’s pretty much the basis of friendship. Back her into a corner about what friendship means to her. She’ll either see your point or not be your friend anymore. Either way your problem is solved,

    • Tempe said:

      I don’t know why this would get you in trouble here! The CA commentariat tends to be good about things like boundaries and respect for people’s lived experience (not to mention feminism).
      It’s awful that you’ve had people spout such pernicious bullshit at you about situations you have every right to feel uncomfortable around. I think your advice about Sally is excellent.

        • clorinda said:

          Being small, cute, and approachable doesn’t make you public property. You owe these people NOTHING beyond a straightforward ‘no.’.

      • Anisoptera said:

        Oh dear me no – I can’t see the people here being mad at you about that! And I’m sorry the women you generally hang around with have internalised so many terrible beliefs about this stuff. 😦

        You are spot on that that attitude is not uncommon alas.

    • Yikes! Some perv was trying to be aggressive to you at age 3???!!!! *hands you a team of feminist guard dogs*

      • My previous comment was for SophieK.

    • Convallaria majalis said:

      Oh, SophieK, it sounds like you have had extremely heavy experiences already in a very young age. You are so right: experiences of that kind are very stressful and hard to handle and in no universe are they any kind of a compliment. I have been much luckier than you but since I was 12 I have experienced things like that, too. I am also somewhat introverted and timid and defending myself was very taxing.

      Many respectful feminist greetings and purrs of female rescue cats.

    • There are women in the world who get mad at me when I express my discomfort regarding being hit on.

      Sadly, I understand how growing up in a messed up culture that says a woman’s worth is based solely on her adherence to conventional standards of beauty pits women against each other, but oh good god that is not cool. If you were getting respectfully hit on by people who acknowledged that you were a person with agency and preferences you probably wouldn’t complain about it! It’s not actually a compliment when a guy hits on you in a way that says he doesn’t give a shit who you are but finds your appearance acceptable and would be willing to put his dick in you.

      • And let’s not forget these guys often are really saying, “You are nothing but a whore and exist only for me to fuck.” I have learned not to smile or speak to strange men in the neighborhood I moved into because I learned that friendliness = WHORE! in that culture.

    • B. said:

      Seconding what everyone said about commenters not giving you trouble about that here. Of course you are allowed to dislike unwanted attention! I’m sorry that people in your life have been projecting their feelings about that all over you 😦 That’s gross and doesn’t make any sense: you aren’t passing judgement on anyone by not liking being hit on. And it’s not women’s mission in life to be grateful and exhilarated whenever a man deigns to grace you with his flirting.

    • Clarry said:

      Getting hit on like that is one problem. I almost think the women accusing you of bragging is the worse one. Unless these people have fabulous qualities that you don’t mention, I’d back away from friendships with them. Or use your hit-on experiences as a litmus test to see if you want to spend more time with them. If they’re sympathetic, friendship is a possibility. If they tell you you should be feeling something you’re not feeling, keep it polite and light.

    • Welcome to the nice commentariat. I am so sorry women have tried to pressure you into accepting unwanted attention in the past. I hope you find kinder people to be around.

    • ashbet said:

      I’m a 5’7″ cute, approachable, woman with a giant rack, AND an extrovert, AND someone who enjoys flirting . . . but I still don’t like the gross come-ons, catcalls, crude remarks, and frightening interactions that can ensue from men not respecting my boundaries.

      (And, yeah, I’ve been dealing with this since I was 12, it’s been REALLY PROBLEMATIC at times, I have genuinely feared for my safety, etc.)

      I hear where you’re coming from, I am so sorry that you’ve had shitty reactions from other women (I’ve also had that happen, although thankfully not often in recent years — I did some pruning of the people I hung out with, after hearing remarks like “Well, I’d LOVE to get that kind of attention, you’re just lucky that people think you’re pretty” as a response to me describing CREEPY INTERACTIONS THAT WERE NOT OKAY.)

      Getting welcome attention from respectful people = something I’m happy about. Having to deal with shitty people of any gender = not actually some kind of privilege.

  33. Venavis said:

    And make sure you don’t fall for the ‘oh, just give them a chance’ guilt trip. You don’t owe anyone ‘a chance’.

  34. Traffic_Spiral said:

    Okay, so maybe I’m missing something here, but has he even tried to facebook ‘friend’ you yet? Because if he did get a crush on you via facebook, friending you would seem like the next logical option. So if he hasn’t done that, chances are good that he’s really not that interested and this is all your matchmaking friend blowing things up for her own reasons.

    I mean, yeah, maybe he really is that obsessed with you, but there’s also a pretty good possibility that he’s just vaguely aware that you exist and all of this is from Sally.

  35. Anisoptera said:

    Ugh boundary swamping acquaintances with too much interest in your dating life suck. There was this woman at my last work who would always grill me about my singleness despite telling her I wasn’t interested in dating currently. She would also try to read into any positive interaction or friendship I showed to anyone at work. Anyway, it was irritating as hell.

    The solution I found was to just end the conversation every time she started it. Telling her no had no effect, so I would literally make up a polite excuse and walk away. I would suddenly need to get a drink or go to the toilet or go get something, or get back to work or whatever was appropriate to the situation. I’d do it cheerfully and with a smile so there’s be no drama. It actually worked really well for me, as while she still did it I didn’t have to engage or respond, and I also got to maintain politeness and avoid drama at work.

    For online communication I recommend literally ignoring the topic. If Sally asks about dating or mentions John or whatever actually completely ignore those bits of her message and don’t respond. If there’s anything else in her conversation latch onto that. Go back to something you were talking about earlier, or literally just change the subject. Or go silent and next time you talk act as if you’ve completely forgotten her question.

    The trick with both of these is to be polite and cheerful about it and willfully oblivious to the questions/topics you don’t want.

    But also, this is a tactic I use for people I can’t easily blow off entirely – work colleagues, relatives, etc. Keep in mind that it’s OK to pull back from boundary swamping friends, see them a lot less often, and just overall reduce your closeness, perhaps to nothing at all… I’ve found over the years that I only have so much social energy and I try to spend it now on people I actually like and not on people who can’t hear “no”. :-/

  36. Indie said:

    If Sally is a good friend, or even a potential good friend, LW would be able to say “Not cool Sal” and Sally would take it as friendly advice.

    I think the same advice would have applied to that LW who had a go between asking her to be a dom to some random dude. It’s okay to just walk silently away in horror from the creepster’s advocate, but if you do want to be/remain friendly you say to your buddy “Hey Im weirded out/ think that’s inappropriate and I don’t think passing that dude’s messages on is doing you any favors socially. Just my tuppence worth”.

    You should also be able to unfriend good/potential friends on Facebook without it being a huge etiquette deal. I for one would like to see “friendship requests” rebranded as “invites to share” and unfriending as “leaving the party”. (Oh and you definitely leave the virtual or otherwise party if other folks are hitting on you/making you uncomfortable) You let your friends leave social spaces whenever they damn well please. But of course Facebook terminology encourages an all or nothing mindset because they want that social pressure in place.

  37. maggiebea said:

    Not having bandwidth to read all the comments … so maybe this has already been said …

    My experience with “Sally” some years ago was that Sally was a married person who only socialized with other couples (married or not, but at least ‘officially seeing each other’) … who wanted me in her friend group … and assumed that every ‘single’ person was actually a ‘seeking-a-mate’ person. Which, actually, I totally was NOT. It took me quite a while, and several attempts on her part to set me up, to persuade her that actually I liked the single life just fine, and was actually okay with not being included in pairs-only dinners etc.

  38. Belle Starr said:

    I also think that, if you know a friend is looking for someone to meet/date, it’s better to just introduce them normally at a party than to frame it as, “I am introducing you for the sake of intimacy and/or sex.” It’s too much pressure up front, and makes it feel like you have to 100% know you’re interested in the person before you even talk to them. If two people are actively looking to meet someone romantically, and you introduce them at a party, and they actually like each other, they can figure out the rest.

    (If either person is not actively looking to meet someone romantically, for gods sake do not try to set them up.)

  39. I am deeply amused by the fact that the replies thread is littered with people saying, “Oh, compulsive matchmakers always do it for xyz reasons,” and each and every commenter seems to be giving *totally& different xyzs. Wow.

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