Dear Viv: I need a glass of wine every night. Do I have a problem?

In this week's episode, Viv discusses the perils of being an unintentional matchmaker, when your best single friend suddenly gets a boyfriend, and whether a glass of wine a night is a problem

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By Viv Groskop on

Dear Viv,

My friend is desperate to settle down and have kids. One problem: she hasn't even had a date in four years. She's lost her confidence; she continuously goes on about wanting kids and a man, but honestly won't even try online dating. We have all offered to go to events with her etc to meet people, but she continues to dodge it, which would be fine if she didn't rant on about it all the time! What can we do to help her confidence?

Oh dear. I am always slightly suspicious of letters that start with the words “My friend”. We all know what it means when someone says, “I’m asking for a friend.” So I always have to wonder whether this is really more about you than it is about your friend. But to start off I’ll take it at face value.

What is the real problem here? Is it that your friend’s life needs fixing and her confidence needs boosting? Or is it the fact that you find her annoying: “It would be fine if she didn’t rant on about it all the time.” Have you thought about the fact that maybe your friend is perfectly happy and enjoys having a good old moan about things? Also, you don’t mention your own situation. Are you a smug married with kids? Maybe, in some warped way, she feels like she has to complain that her life is not like yours in order to make you feel good. There is a remote possibility that she is having a wonderful time as a singleton, but doesn’t want to make you feel bad because you’re not out there whooping it up. I don’t have enough information to know here.

In short, alarm bells always ring for me when someone is trying to make someone else’s life better. I’m sure your intentions are admirable -- you just want your friend to find happiness -- and to stop going on about how much she wants kids whilst blatantly doing nothing to make this happen. But, realistically, I’m sorry to say that there is not much you can actually say. The only person who can change your friend’s outlook is your friend. If she doesn’t want to overcome her fear of online dating and feels happier in her comfortable little bubble of denial, then no one can force her.

Perhaps examine your own feelings before trying to change your friend’s life. Are you really annoyed with her and fed up of her? If so, what are you going to do about these feelings? If you feel very strongly, then you should call her on all this. If you’re good friends, you should be able to say: “It drives me crazy that you say you want all these things and yet you do nothing to actually make it happen.” That would be an interesting and honest conversation. But I’m struggling not to read the real problem here as being “Dear Viv, help: my friend is really annoying me.” And there is only one solution for friends who are annoying -- and potentially in deep denial -- and that is this: see less of them. Who knows, maybe your friend will get so desperate for things to do that she will try online dating after all.

Dear Viv,

Two of my friends have fancied each other for a while and recently kissed on a night out. The only problem is I'm the only mutual friend connecting them. Last time this same girlfriend got involved with another friend of mine, it ended with me never speaking to my guy friend again (their messy break-up *was* his fault, but still). I don't want to say they can't get together, as I know this is how people meet, and it's none of my business, but I know I'm going to end up in a bad situation if they do. Help!

Help indeed. This is already toxic, as you have realised from previous encounters, Cilla Black. It’s extremely dangerous to be a matchmaker, whether you’re an intentional one or not. There is only one good outcome in these situations and that is when the two people involved get married. This is what happened in my life. My friend Birna (yes, this is a lady; she has an exotic Icelandic name) introduced me to Simon, who went on to become my husband. As we are still together 15 years later and have three children, we regard Birna as some kind of god. But I suppose if we had long since broken up (don’t get complacent, Simon, it might yet happen) we would regard her as evil.

It sounds like you don’t even want to occupy the god role – you just want to stay well out of all of this, especially as you’ve already marked yourself out as the sort of person who takes sides in these events. (That is a very bad thing to do, by the way. Always avoid taking sides, no matter how badly everyone behaves.) So I would suggest that you do just that: stay out of it. Any time either of your friends mentions the other or tries to involve you, just change the subject. Or say explictly: “Get a room, guys, and keep me out of it.” If you make a joke of it, it will be fine. Find some incredibly boring thing to go on and on about any time they mention their relationship. Do you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the entire discography of The Smiths? This could be the time to bust that out as a conversational gambit.

The one thing you can’t do is stop them from getting together. If they are going to, they are going to. So just get ready to stay clear of the car crash. Of course, when things start to go well and/or they are planning an amazing wedding, then you can take all the credit. I am still waiting for Birna to claim her commission on my happiness at some point.

You can hear the answers to these and the following question on Viv’s podcast, Waving, Not Drowning, above.

Dear Viv,

I'm single and, for ages, so was my best mate – it had been this way for about three years and we developed a kind of single sisterhood, going on "date nights" to cinemas and out to dinner. The thing is, now she's got a boyfriend and I'm worried things won’t be the same. Obviously it could have been the other way round, but it's not. How do I a) not be jealous and b) not be needy.

Dear Viv,

I need a glass of wine every single night. Do I have a problem?

Got a question for Viv? Email her at DearViv@thepoolltd.com. The Dear Viv podcast airs fortnightly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately Viv cannot reply to your emails personally. 

You can now subscribe to The Pool's podcasts on iTunes

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