Friends can be the best dating algorithm around, especially when you're high profile and hopping on Tinder might be too public a search.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle might be the biggest of big-name setups. And now, according to E! News, we know who's responsible for the match: Violet von Westenholz, a childhood friend of Harry's.
According to E!, Harry had been confiding to his friends that he was having "a really hard time finding" the right match. That's when von Westenholz stepped in and orchestrated an intro to Markle, whom von Westenholz knew from her public-relations work with Ralph Lauren.
In interviews right after their engagement in November, Markle said that she didn't have a particular fascination with or understanding of the royal family before she'd met Harry. She had just one question for their mutual friend. "Was he nice?" she asked. "Because if he wasn't kind, it didn't seem like it would make sense."
Meanwhile, the prince admitted that "I never even heard of her." He didn't watch her USA Network legal drama "Suits."
Kudos to von Westenholz for making a good match. It's not easy! As successful as friend-brokered setups can be, they can also be royally bad. Here are a few things to avoid when trying to pull off your own von Westenholz.
- Don't set two people up just because they're the only two single people you know.
Has this ever happened to you? A friend sets you up, and you spend the entire date trying to figure out: Why? Why does my friend think we'd be a good match?
Former "Bachelorette" Andi Dorfman has been there. "My friends set me up, but they're terrible at it," she told me in an interview in New York last year. "Someone will be like, 'Oh my friend so-and-so, you guys will be great.' And I'll go on a date with him and be like, 'What were you thinking?'
"And it's not that the guy is mean or bad or anything in that sense, but just not compatible," Dorfman said, adding: "People that aren't single don't realize that ... there's no point in setting up two single people and wasting their time if they're not compatible whatsoever."
So if you, dear meddling friend, can't think of at least one reason - a common interest or similar outlook on life - two people might enjoy each other's company, do not attempt a setup. Maybe they both love puns. Or maybe they're both incredibly adventurous and spontaneous.
- Before attempting a setup, confirm that both people are looking for something similar.
Ideally they should both be seeking the same kind of relationship or arrangement. Do not set up a friend who's looking for a wife with someone who only wants to keep things casual, as this will generally lead to disappointment.
- But feel free to push them out of their comfort zone.
When daters are swiping on Tinder, they're likely to stick to their tried-and-true "types." But when a trusted friend makes an intro, daters can be more willing to overlook dealbreakers. For instance, when Washington Post contributor Kelly Clay was souring on the dating-app scene, she asked about 10 of her closest friends, all of whom were married, to set her up.
While out on one of those dates - with a man who had a kid and lived at his parents' house, two things that would have been dealbreakers had they met on Tinder - she found herself reconsidering.
"Sitting across from him drinking coffee, it's information I absorbed as part of his whole person," she wrote. "I can see him struggle to explain these could-be-dealbreaker details. But once he looked at me and realized I had no initial reaction, he told me the whole sordid story about his ex-wife. Feeling safe that he feels safe allowed me to open up about other parts of myself - such as my depression and anxiety - that I rarely tell anyone about."
Being set up by a mutual friend immediately made Clay feel relaxed. "It made it easy to show up as myself from the beginning of our relationship."