I caught his eye as I attempted to gracefully descend the steps into the bar where he sat waiting for me (don’t trip, don’t trip, don’t trip). His face broke into a smile (OK, this is a good sign) and as I got closer, he stood up from the stool to greet me (nice manners!). I smiled back as I approached with a nervous, “Shaun?” to which he replied, “Guilty.”
We had made it through perhaps the hardest part of a blind date—the greeting. That is, until he went in for a hug as I went in for a forearm pat; his embrace locking my right arm awkwardly to my chest.
For a lot of us, this is dating these days:And we’re not alone: According to the smartypants at Berkeley, 1 in 10 Americans have used a dating site or app,and 23% have met a spouse or long term partner through them.
So if you’re out in that dating world, blind dates are sort of a necessary evil (for the sake of this article, a blind date refers to meeting someone from a dating a site or app for the first time).
So since I’ve gone on more than a handful of these puppies, I thought I’d share a few of my personal survival tips for braving the blind date. You might wanna pour a drink for this one.
Choose your gear wisely.
Dress for the blind date you want, not the blind date you have. Wait. What I’m saying is pick an outfit that you feel comfortable in and then, frankly, stick with it. I have a few ‘date shirts’ that I just throw into the rotation when the time comes, so I don’t have to overthink it or stress beforehand. They are well fitting, make me feel cute, and boy, if these tops could talk. This is one of those tips that just helps alleviate (some of) the stress of a date so you can get back to the more important pre-date rituals like that glass of rosé.
Pick a good spot.
Personally, I am very adamant about getting drinks (not dinner!) on blind dates. Simply because it’s way less of a commitment (for all parties), and it feels so much more casual—and I’m not ever sure if I look good when I eat. As far as spots go, I have a few bars that are close to my house that have good lighting, great drinks, and a friendly staff. Think of some of your favorite spots and don’t be shy suggesting them. Ambiance goes a long way when there are nerves involved. It’s always nice to be familiar with a place so that you know where the bar is and where the bathroom is and, frankly, where the exits are.
Don’t do too much Googling.
Yes, we all do it. Yes, you want to see as many photos as possible of the person you’re meeting up with and vet their profile against the ‘truth’ of the internet. But what happens if you dig too deep? You might find stuff that would’ve been nice to learn from the guy directly, or you could form an even more skewed perception of who you anticipate him to be. It’s good to do your homework, but don’t overdo it…leave some info to be discovered organically on the date!
Any good survivalist knows that safety is a critical component to adventures. My personal suggestions are to text a friend where you are and even a screenshot of the person you’re meeting up with. Another tip I heard recently was to be careful when disclosing personal details—like your address, for example—because this is still a stranger, and you gotta be careful out there.
Peace out when you want.
I’ve spent WAY too many bad blind dates wishing that I had the guts to just ask for the check and bounce. As long as you’re being polite, you should feel comfortable to trust your gut and just call it. There’s nothing rude about sticking to your own boundaries. A key I’ve often stuck with is having a dinner set for after the date, so that I can mention that right away, say an hour and a half after we’ve met for a happy hour drink. Then you’re already primed to leave and if by chance you’re having a really great time you can push your dinner back.
I wish this weren’t even something I felt the need to mention, but alas, people can be cruel. I can usually tell if I’m attracted to someone within the first, say, 45 seconds? But that doesn’t mean this isn’t still a human who has a story and (almost always) deserves my respect. Another tip my friend Emily told me that she keeps in mind on blind dates is to talk about your life with positivity and passion. Even if you’re not into this person, you’ll feel great afterwards.
Oh and ask a damn question, folks. If you notice that you just got done telling a long story, or if you’ve been nervously chatting, remember to bounce it back to their court (ooh sports reference!) so they can have the floor.
Unfortunately, most blind dates don’t hold up to the rom com standard of romance. I still don’t know if it really is a numbers game and we’re supposed to just keep putting ourselves out there or if a few years from now some study will come out that we were all crazy to try it this way (well, the other 77% of us, anyway). But if you choose to go on these dates, just be proud of how brave you (both!) are to do so—and chalk up the sour dates to great stories or learning experiences.