Dear Carolyn: Is there a polite way to say to well-meaning family and friends, "Please don't feel like you have to try to set me up with every gay man you know just because I am single"? I live in an area without a huge gay community, so I'm grateful for occasional set-ups with guys who share my interests; but it feels like sometimes, these matchmakers are using "You're both gay" as their only criterion.
A: I could argue your dilemma represents progress, since matchmakers have a long history of using "You're both single" as their only criterion for setting up friends.
Nevertheless, there's nothing wrong with voicing your honest concern, pretty much as you've said it here.
The surface drudgery of a bad date isn't the only hazard of thoughtless matchmaking, though: It also holds insult potential when you get paired with your definition of a grasping lowlife or galloping head case. You find yourself asking, "Is this what my friend thinks of me?"
Since getting pushed to this point can leave a residue of hard feelings, and since often the matchmaker actually is not thinking much at all, it's worth trying to aim your query closer to the heart of the problem. "Sure, I'd be happy to meet (latest setup attempt). My one criterion: Would you feel flattered to be matched with him?"
Give thanks discreetly
Dear Carolyn: An extremely generous uncle of mine stepped forward when times got tough for my immediate family and paid for my university education and my upcoming wedding. I realize how fortunate I am. Of course, I have repeatedly expressed my gratitude to him.
Question: In the course of the imminent graduation and wedding celebrations, would it be at all appropriate to offer a toast to this gentleman and specifically speak to my guests of his generosity? On one hand it seems crass; on the other, I would like to acknowledge his tremendous support and at the same time not offend the other loving family members who are not in a position to attempt to match his generosity.
-- Lucky Me
A: Or the other loving family members who were in a position similar to yours, and didn't receive such generous help -- right? That holds the potential for far more grievous offense.
When even one of your extremities says a shout-out would be crass, you've got a decent reason not to do it. However, the possibility of putting Uncle Bux on the spot is a decisive one. Raise a glass in thanks for his -- and others' -- kindness, and renew your specific thanks more discreetly.