Dear Prudence

Help! Why Did My Friends Set Me Up With a Terrible Guy?

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

A woman looks annoyed at a couple.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash and Ryan Dam on Unsplash.

Every week, Daniel Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.

Q. No real friends: I am a woman who’s generally considered intelligent and attractive. My autism sometimes make it hard to find friends or read people’s intentions. Not surprisingly, I also have difficulty dating, as I am an easy target for men secretly looking for hookups and casual sex, while I am looking for something serious. I have been lied to and led on many times.

Two close friends of mine, X and Y (a couple), know this about me. Recently, they recommended their mutual friend Z, saying that he was great and they would like to set me up with him. I trusted them. After I became involved with Z, Y decided abruptly he was upset by it, and didn’t want to speak to me anymore, taking X with him. The same night, Z decided to earnestly share with me his general annoyance that women “just” want relationships, while he feels he deserves numerous, meaningless hookups. I later found out that Z has a long history of womanizing, and had even recently slept with Y’s sister, resulting in hard feelings all around.

Not to minimize my inability to see red flags, but I think my friends should have warned me (to not to get involved with him) or him (to not look for a hookup in me). Instead, they actively endorsed him, then punished me for trusting their judgment. Am I wrong to feel bewildered and betrayed? Isn’t it reasonable to rely this way on your friends? My trust issues were bad before and are now severe.

A: I’d feel bewildered and betrayed in your position, too. Part of me wonders if your couple friends set you up with Z and then almost immediately retreated in hurt because they’re still working out their own anger and resentment toward him for sleeping with Y’s sister. Whatever the motivation for their behavior, I agree that they acted unkindly toward you and put you in an impossible situation. I’m sorry they took advantage of your trust and made it seem like you and Z wanted the same things.

I don’t know if you’re at all interested in speaking to X and Y again, but I think it would be reasonable if you wanted to tell them that their behavior hurt you and you hope they don’t do this to any of their other friends. One can’t always predict perfectly whether two people will hit it off, but if you know one of your friends is looking for a serious relationship, you don’t set that person up with someone who recently slept with one of your family members and is only interested in casual sex. I don’t think you could have predicted or anticipated this, so I hope you don’t blame yourself for not guessing that your friends would misrepresent you so badly. If in the future you decide you don’t want to be set up by your friends, I think that’s a perfectly reasonable precaution to take (although I hope the rest of your friends don’t prove to be as false as those two did).