My friend and I recently found out we’d both “matched” with the same guy on a dating app – and now I don’t know what to do about it. On the one hand, I feel strongly that “all is fair in love and war”; on the other hand, isn’t friendship more important? My friend says I should go on a date with him too and that she doesn’t mind, but I’m worried she’s secretly upset and that it’s going to cause a rift between us. When I speak to this guy online, we seem perfectly suited – we may not have met yet, but I haven’t found this kind of chemistry on a dating app before, and I don’t want to squander my chance of finding someone special. What should I do?
Before I tell you what I think about your situation (and I have sympathy, as I’ve been through something similar) I’m going to tell you what happened when I spoke to some male colleagues to find out what they thought. “You can’t call shotgun on people,” was the general impression – said with a shoulder shrug.
One put it this way: “Finding love is not like taking the last seat on the Tube; the heart doesn’t play by the rule of ‘bagsy’. They should both go on the date, see how the vibes are, and then make a decision. And if not, polyamory is all the rage these days.”
Another added, perhaps serving as a (semi-stern) reminder: “Of course, he may have a say in who he wants to date, too.”
I found these responses interesting, because they were so different to what I would instinctively like to tell you. The men I quizzed didn’t hesitate before agreeing with the adage of “all is fair in love and war”; whereas my heart steers me towards the second part of your sentence – that it’s friendship that is far more important. So, let’s think this through.
When I had this situation happen to me (in fact, it’s happened twice – I’d once been on two dates before a close friend told me she too had been arranging to meet the very same man) I felt strongly that I should step back.
To me, the clearest and fairest way to handle it was to give my friend “first dibs”, because she had “found him first”, under these terms: she “matched” with him online before I did, she even told me at the time that she had “found someone cute” in the local area. When he later “liked” me online, I cross-referenced with my friend and realised it was the very same “cute” guy.
Here’s what I did next: first, I sought to establish how far their relationship had developed; whether (and how much) she liked him. She told me was excited to meet him but that she wouldn’t mind me dating him too, to “try it out”, and we agreed that if we did so, whoever liked him most should go for it (and yes, we were aware that he would also get a say).
But even that libertarian view on love didn’t sit right with me – I couldn’t handle the idea of introducing competition into our friendship, particularly one I value dearly. Instead, I abided by my own set of “rules” and told her to go for it; to meet him first and to see if they got on. If it didn’t work out, if there was no “spark”, then – and only then – would I consider taking him up on his offer of a date.
That’s because, crucially, I felt we weren’t really talking about the guy at all – but our relationship with each other. Could I have steamrolled in and given him all of my attention in an attempt to “win”? Could I have gone all out to “beat” her to a date, to get “in there” first? I could certainly have tried.
But let’s face it, all I’d ever done with this guy was talk online. Chemistry or no chemistry, banter or no banter, devastatingly “cute” profile photo or not – it hadn’t gone far enough for me to be hugely invested in him, but I was invested in her; and had been invested in our friendship for 10 years. And I feel that when it comes down to the chance of a hot date versus a solid, mutually respectful, trustworthy relationship with a friend, the latter wins, every time.
Now to you. You don’t say whether or not your friend has already been on a date with this guy, or how it went – the fact you’ve used the word “too” implies she’s already (at least) met him in person.
You care about your friend, that much is clear – you’re already worried about the potential for a rift. And being worried means you probably wouldn’t enjoy the date anyway.
As for what you do now, I’d suggest having a proper talk about it with your friend; establish the facts (particularly how she’s feeling and whether she wants to see him again, or whether they’ve discussed a second date), then I’d suggest graciously standing back and letting her connection with him take its course.
Perhaps he is perfect for you, perhaps he’s the best match you’d ever find on an app; but if that’s the case, it probably won’t work out for him with your friend anyway, will it?
Put bluntly, I don’t really think it matters – because risking a friendship like the one you’ve got for a first date simply isn’t worth it. Sorry guys (don’t eye-roll me in the office).
Victoria Richards is The Independent’s advice columnist. Having problems with work, love, family or friends? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org