Saturday, March 22, 2008

Take a Chance on a Blind Date

Anyone who was or is single past the age of 20 has likely been set up on a blind date. We’ve all heard the horror stories; dates that were so awful people have sworn off blind dating forever. But blind dates don’t have to be terrible! They can actually be a lot of fun and a good way to meet some great people, if you know how to scout them out.

First and foremost, make sure that the person setting you up knows you well. Close friends, co-workers with good taste and a large circle of friends, or even relatives all likely know people who you would have a great time with. Chances are they haven’t even considered setting you up, so all you need to do is plant the idea in their heads and watch it take root. Once the topic comes up, tell them a few things you look for in a mate – humor, sensitivity, gainful employment – whatever is important to you. You’re not likely to end up with someone who meets every criteria you dream up, but relationships are all about compromise. Figure out what you’re willing to compromise on, and what you can’t or won’t.

A word of caution here: be wary of well-intentioned people who just want to see you in a relationship. They don’t really care who it is you’re with, they just think that being single must be lonely and want to see you hook up with someone. Anyone. Asking them to help you find a date is a big mistake, because they’ll set you up with the first single person of the opposite sex they come across, and they will take it personally if things don’t work out. They’ll also make it their personal mission to find you a match, and that can be excruciatingly difficult to get yourself out of once you’re in the thick of it.

When someone approaches you with their idea of the perfect blind date, ask questions. Is the person you’re being set up with outgoing? Does he or she have a job? Are they into any of the same things you’re into? Most importantly, have they been set up with many other people in the past? If someone is trying to sell you on a blind date with a person who makes a career out of blind dating, chances are they’re not “keeper” material. There’s a reason none of the dates have turned into steady relationships, and a good chance that your friend is suggesting this person because the serial blind dater has been pestering your friend to set them up again.

Now that you’ve got a date set up, it’s time for a bit of planning. Deciding where to go is the first step, and the location should be somewhere very public and lots of fun. A new restaurant, a bowling alley, a dance club, mini-putt, or any place there will be a lot of people and sufficient things to talk about when the conversation wanes.

You should never, ever agree to a first date with someone you’ve never laid eyes on at their home, or worse, yours. It’s tough to get out of sticky situations when you’re alone with someone, and even if your date has been highly recommended by someone you trust, you never know what could happen. Don’t take the chance. Keep it public until you’ve had a chance to get to know them.

Go into the date with a good attitude. Don’t assume it will be a huge disappointment, and conversely, don’t think you’re about to meet your future husband or wife. If you kick things off with the intention of having fun and getting to know someone new, you’ll have a much better time, be more relaxed, and be less disappointed if things don’t work out.

Once the date is underway, treat it like any other date. There’s nothing different about a blind date except for the way it was arranged, so now you’re on your own. If you have fun, arrange to see each other again. If not, you can always end the evening with, “It was great meeting you! Maybe we’ll run into each other again at Carol’s.” When the person that set you up asks how your evening went, be honest. If you didn’t like the person you were set up with tell them, and explain why. But leave yourself open to another date with someone new. Dating can be like fishing; you end up throwing a lot back, but eventually you’ll end up with a prize catch.

There’s no denying that there is a stigma attached to the whole experience of blind dating. But if you have a good attitude and let trusted friends help you out, you might find it’s not that horrible after all!

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