Your Secret Dating Weapon Is Your Circle of Friends

You know the old song lyric, "I get by with a little help from my friends"? Well, when it comes to your love life, the same principle holds true. A platonic pal might prove to be the piece that puts your romantic puzzle together!

"Your friends know you best, so it makes sense that they should help you find potential love matches," says Imogen Lloyd Webber, author of The Single Girl's Survival Guide and founder of www.singlegirlssurvivalguide.com. "Indeed, your pals may actually make wiser choices for you than you would!"

With that in mind we decided to explore five ways your friends can help you meet your match!

1. Friends Can Help You Meet New Friends
You'd be amazed how often people forget to call upon their pals to set them up! It may seem like stating the obvious, but remind your friends that you're single, looking and open to suggestions! Sometimes friends don't want to overstep their boundaries by playing matchmaker, but if you give them the go ahead, they may know someone with whom you'd mesh perfectly! Even if they don't, however, make sure you infiltrate your friend's circle whenever you're offered the chance because it'll extend your network as well.

"When you make a new friend - say at work or an activity - don't ever be embarrassed to tell them that you're single and looking," says dating guru David Wygant, founder of the dating advice website www.davidwygant.com. "You never know who they may know." In other words, go ahead and play six degrees of separation… that friend of a friend of a friend's friend may end up being your next amour!

2. Friends Can Make Perfect Wingmen/Wing-Women
The next soiree you're invited to, don't waste that "plus one" you bring along! Capitalize on that party-tunity by bringing a wingman or wing-woman (married, single, straight, gay… doesn't matter as long as they're not in competition with you) to help break the ice with any new cuties you spy. "You want someone who can support you when you mingle and also be fine alone-so that if you meet a potential new love interest, your pal will be OK if you leave them for a little while," says Lloyd Webber.

Here's how to make things happen. As soon as you see someone who piques your interest, start the casual "fly-bys" with your wing-person in tow and try to catch the target's eye. Then eventually see if you can position yourself near the cutie you have your eye on and begin a discussion on some light topic with your friend-and not too quietly. Finally, let your wing-person pull that person of interest into the conversation by saying something like, "Excuse me, but we're having an argument here I'm hoping you can settle. Daniel Craig or Pierce Brosnan… who was the better James Bond?" Boom… conversation started.

It's also a good idea to set up a subtle signal system in advance with your wing-person. "For instance, gently placing your hand on your throat might mean -Rescue me,'" suggests Lloyd Webber. "And always agree beforehand on a gesture in case you wish to be left alone with the person you are talking to!"

3. Friends Can Serve As Examples
Pretty much anyone who has been "in the field" at some point will have great date and horror hookup stories to share. But don't just let those tales go in one ear and out the other! Instead, listen to your pals' experiences, and learn. "I think friends can be instrumental in helping your dating life by serving as examples," says Natasha Mann of New York, NY. "Learn from their mistakes, learn from their moments of clarity, watch how they navigate the dating waters and change what you need to - because everyone is different - but in a lot of cases, why reinvent the wheel?"

Watching friends and their relationships can also be educational. "You can see a happy relationship and think, -I want that' and observe how they work on their time with their significant other, or you can see a bad one and think -Thank goodness I'm single, I'm definitely not going to be with someone like that and/or act that way when I'm next in a relationship,' says Lloyd Webber.

4. Friends Can Introduce You to New Scenes
Friends will often try to drag you to things you really don't want to attend. Instead of complaining all the way, let them! "Always go to new events that you have never been to before-PR parties, gallery openings, poetry readings, business-networking opportunities," says Wygant. "All of these are great places to meet people and expand your social circle." Plus, you might gain new knowledge in the process (making you a more interesting date in the future).

Another related idea here is to make a point of attending any gatherings your pals organize, even if they're very casual. Or convince a friend to join a book club, pottery class, choral group, etc… with you. "You're never going to meet anyone if you stay home all the time," says Lloyd Webber. "You need to put yourself out there to find that special someone."

5. Friends Can Kick Up Your Online-Dating Efforts
Online dating may at times seem like a solitary pursuit between you and your computer, but getting friends in on the action can actually up your success rate! How so? Well, to begin with, have a profile party! Get your pals to look at what you've posted and weigh in on how accurately it represents the real you (after all, these people know all about you!). "Friends are great for helping you write your profile because they can have an objective and more truthful viewpoint of your assets and know how best to express that to others, especially for profiling you in a positive light for a possible love interest," says Michelle Pickford, of New York, NY.

Also, friends can call you out if you're presenting a persona that doesn't really reflect the true you. And consider having a friend help with photo selection. "The best person to ask can be a member of the gender you are trying to attract - since they're the ones who are going to respond - and ask them to pick out pictures of you," suggests Wygant.

Also get your friends in on your search efforts. It can't hurt to recruit a few pals to look at potentials you're considering and see if they think you might be a match. Someone you have on the "Maybe" list might get the "Oh, definitely wink at that person!" seal of approval from a friend who knows you well. Or a friend might take a crack at searching for you and come up with some potential dates you never would have found on your own… just because your pal sees you from a different perspective.

You've known that friends can help you nurse a broken heart… now follow this advice and see if your pals can't help you get out there and have even more dating success!

Want to take your love life to the next level-or help a single pal do just that? Come on and try Match My Friends, new from Match.com-it's a whole new way to date that's fun, exciting, and so effective.

Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Marie Claire, and Women's Health.

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Why do relationships work? Many long-term romances are built on a solid base of respect, admiration, communication and friendship. Because long-term friendships have a similar base, you may wake up one day and want to be more than friends.

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