I hosted a ‘vouch party.’ My single friends brought men they liked but didn’t want to date

In World

  • Eimear Draper hosted a vouch party where single women brought men they “vouched for.”
  • The event created space for lively conversations.
  • While no one met their soulmate, Draper said it helped get people out of their comfort zones. 

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Eimear Draper, a dating coach and the founder of Kindling. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Today, at 40 years old, I’m married and have two little girls, but during most of my adulthood, I was single. Since I didn’t have anyone to come home to, I would often stay late at the office. That’s how I became known as a “career-focused” woman, when in fact, I was equally focused on finding a romantic partner and helping my single friends find romantic partners, too.

When I was in my 20s, I would go out to bars in London with my single female friends, hoping to meet potential partners. However, men rarely approached us — our large, raucous group probably intimidated them. 

After several fun, but romantically fruitless, group outings, I decided to host what some people would now call a “vouch party,” though we didn’t use that term in London at the time. I learned about the concept from “Sex and the City.”

I invited single women I knew and asked them to invite single men they could vouch for but didn’t want to date. My hope was that all these desirable singles could socialize, hook up, and maybe even find love.

The lack of men led to desperate measures

I held the vouch party at a bar in Clapham, London. It fell on Valentine’s Day, which may seem like an odd choice, but to me, it made sense. Many single people don’t want to go out on Valentine’s Day because they’d rather not be surrounded by cheesy couples. My party provided an opportunity for single people to be around fellow unattached adults on what otherwise could be a disheartening holiday.

Sixteen of my friends agreed to attend, provided they followed the rule of bringing carefully vetted plus-ones. I decided to invite my cousin — I thought surely one of my friends would like him — and he brought one of his single friends along, too. Only two of the other women followed through on their promise to bring men along with them, and at first, that was it. There were only four men in a group of sixteen single women — it was a disaster! Still, I was committed to making this party work.

I asked one of the women at the party to call her flatmate and invite him to come by with some guys. Then, to get some more guys in the room, I went searching for men outside the bar. At one point, I saw a few guys walking by, ran out, and asked them, “Hey, do you want to join a party that’s full of single women?” Fortunately, they did.

Though no one ended up with long-term partners, it was a wild night

Finally, we had a workable mix of women and men. Even though the party felt a bit awkward at first, everyone sank into the hilarity of it all and embraced this new experience. People talked and flirted — some attendees were surprisingly bold. A friend of mine ended up kissing one of the guys I’d pulled in off the street. I had assumed she’d be the least likely person to kiss a stranger.

As the host, I made sure to walk around and introduce people to each other. At so many other singles’ nights I’d previously attended, the host would show everybody to a room and wish them good luck. I wanted to make sure that my vouch party included more adequate support, and my effort paid off — my introductions seemed to facilitate lively conversations. 

As far as I know, no one found a long-term partner there. I ended up going on a couple of dates with my cousin’s friend afterward — but I’d met him two weeks before and we already had some chemistry, so I don’t think our short-lived romance technically counts as a vouch-party success.

In the years after that wild night, I met my now-husband through Tinder and found other ways to help people who are searching for love. I founded a dating service, Kindling, born from my past dating struggles. Now, I help people build the self-awareness and self-esteem that successful romantic relationships require.

While my one and only vouch party didn’t achieve its intended goal, we all managed to have a fun night. It took us out of our comfort zones, and many of us sorely needed that push.

Read More: I hosted a ‘vouch party.’ My single friends brought men they liked but didn’t want to date

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