Monkey in the Middle

Remember that game you used to play with two other people when you were younger (and dare I say, less blonde?) It was called ‘monkey in the middle’ and how it worked was two people would throw a ball over a third persons head who would stand between the other two. The middle man was meant to try and catch the ball being thrown. I remember this game and smile at my memories of how excited I used to get to play, and how I always wanted to be the monkey in the middle, rising to a challenge. And I can’t help but compare this childhood game to playing matchmaker in a set up between two single friends.

When you set up two friends, you’re bound to hear two sides to the story, but being a friend to both, you can’t tell the other person what the other person said. So you sit and listen to both sides in typical ‘he said/she said’ fashion, as you clearly see where the miscommunication lies or where they might be going wrong. And if they are both love-buzzed and happy, you’re still almost always called upon for advice, since the matchmaker is viewed as the expert and knows both people well. The frustrating part with being the monkey in the middle when it comes to setting people up is that you can never get a hold of the ball.

You are an active know-it-all, seeing the full picture in its entirety, but even when you do advise with this ‘insider-trading’ type knowledge, it’s tough for the setter uppers to realize the role they play. You want to tell them both what the other is thinking and play coach to set up a winning play, but often you are left silenced. So though it’s exciting to be in the middle and to try to win, it’s still quite challenging.

A couple years back I set two friends up. They both enjoyed one another’s company but the girl would come to me with her concerns, and I so wanted to warn him about these concerns, but didn’t want to get more involved than I already was. At the end of the day, the two must be able to communicate and if I keep giving tips, it’s as if they are both dating me, as opposed to each other. And let’s face it, It’s all fun and games until the two people have a falling out, and you are the one being looked to for all the answers, as if you are the conscience in this relationship.

The monkey in the middle can often be put in an awkward position, but at the same time, they can set two people up who end up being the perfect match. And that makes all the other failed attempts and to-be-expected calls of duty, worth it.

– Jenny Jen


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