Last night, at the UMW meeting where we discussed the importance of Fair Trade, one of the women said to another — of me — “She’d fit perfectly into our Thursday group if it weren’t for her family.”

By this they did not mean that my family is too savage for the Thursday group, but that the Thursday group is for single women.

It is common for us to divide ourselves up in this way — but is it wise? In another group, we were talking about the fact that people no longer “fix up” their friends. Matchmaking would be considered interference. A generation ago, a single person could expect that older, married friends and relatives would try to herd presentable people in his or her direction. Now, no one would feel free to do so.

“I wouldn’t mind,” said one single person in that group, and there was a chorus of agreement.

The Princess also agreed. She is planning her wedding to a man she met through an internet dating service. It seemed odd, she said, and it is true that you meet some odd people that way, but there aren’t many options in the modern world. She works (with me) in a woman-rich environment, attends a church with few young single members, and, as she says, “You don’t want to meet people in a bar.”

College students are entirely surrounded by single people. Do they fare better? Maybe not. #2 daughter is a college student, and has plenty of guys to date. But — while her dating exploits make good blog stories — she isn’t necessarily any more satisfied with her options than the single women in the conversation I described above.

Instead of a lack of possible romantic interests, she has an unsorted pool. Like a big-box bookstore where you have to get through hundreds of shelves of books you won’t enjoy, in hopes of finding one you will like.  It might be better for a friend to say, “Here’s a book I think you’ll love.”

That isn’t likely to happen in all-singles groups, because the girls don’t think, “Now there is a great guy. He’s handsome, intelligent, virtuous, and fun. I think I’ll introduce him to my girlfriends.” No, that fellow she will keep for herself. (Not to mention that, in many cases, he will turn out actually to be handsome, superficially clever, a rogue, and prone to temper tantrums and whining, once she gets to know him. He didn’t come with references, after all.)

We need to mix the married and single people up more. And maybe it is time to lift the ban on matchmaking.

I also went to a CAPS conference yesterday. This is the meeting with a counselor in which kids map out their high school course of study. I’ve done this with three other kids, and it has always consisted of the kid trying to arrange the easiest possible schedule while the counselor and I try to persuade the kid to take something challenging.

I think that is the norm. All around me yesterday I heard whines of “I don’t know what I want to take” and fretful adults responding “Well, you have to take something!”

#2 son said that he wanted to take AP Macroeconomics next year. He thought he would do two or three AP courses each year, and chose a balanced program which he thought would prepare him for the career he has chosen and look good on his college applications. I was thinking, “Who are you, and what have you done with my kid?” but in a good way.

I wonder what approach he will take to dating?