Blind Dates - The Real Rules

If you’ve been set up (or want to be!) by a well-meaning friend, here’s what you must know to ensure that you’ll have a good date.

By Padma L. Atluri

“Wait, I just might have someone for you.”

I couldn’t help it. After years of blind dating, I would get excited every time I heard those words. To me, it meant that there were still other singles
It’s imperative to share your requirements with those in a position to set you up.
left out there—and if my friends’ enthusiasm was any indication, even quality ones.

Ever hopeful, I jumped in the fray when my friend Christie told me she had the perfect guy for me. We were both writers who loved diners! Perfect indeed, until I realized he was more interested in my writing credits than his own grilled cheese. He didn’t want a date. He wanted an agent.

Something had to change. So blind-dating rule number one was born.

Rule #1: State your case
When you don’t do your part in explaining what you’re looking for, everyone suffers. It’s imperative to share your requirements (speaks English, drinks wine, has job) with those in a position to set you up. Let your friends know that it’s not enough that you’re both single; as my friend Allison broke it down, “That guy who no one else wants to date—well, I don’t want to, either.”

My friends heard me, and Jennifer set me up with Brad, who met my main requirements. When I asked what he was like, she said he was a fellow “music lover.” Actually, he turned out to be a lyrics lover. I know this because he recited them as answers to my questions—including “All Night Long” (thanks, Lionel Richie). Yes, I like music, but not that much. That date that taught me…

Rule #2: Listen carefully to what the setter-upper says
If the first adjective you’re given to describe your blind date is “nice,” then rest assured he’s nice. If it’s “hot,” well, then he’s hot (disclaimer: hot is in the eye of the beholder). That much you can count on. After that, though, all bets are off. Whatever adjective follows the first one doesn’t nearly matter as much. After all, there’s a reason your friend didn’t lead with it. So when someone says a guy she wants to set you up with is “funny, ambitious, successful, sweet, creative and cute”—he’s probably very funny. But he’s probably also funny-looking.

Rule #3: Evaluate the setter-upper
How well you know the setter-upper is just as important as how well they know you. If the one thing your boss knows about you is that you’re always on time, “You two have so much in common” takes on a whole new meaning when she wants you to
I couldn’t picture myself being thrown over his shoulder—and liking it.
have drinks with her cousin Paul. This is not bad if punctuality is your thing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t mine. And that’s when I realized that so much of this could be avoided just by learning to…

Rule #4: Ask, “Why?”
My friend Dianne set me up with a guy for whom leaving the house was “torture.” His word. For me, it turned out torture was a four-course meal with him! When I later asked her why she chose him, she said, “I thought you both could use the practice.” While I appreciated the gesture, this would have been helpful information before I had my hair blown out.

Now I make a point to say, “Give me three — not one, or two, but three — reasons why you think we’d be good together” before I let myself head out on a blind date. This seems to help get people thinking. And sometimes when they realize there isn’t a number two or three beyond, “Well, you’re both single,” you’re conveniently spared from what could be more dashed hopes.

My last blind date was with a firefighter. I stated my case, I listened, I evaluated my setter-upper, I asked “why?”—and this guy made the cut. When we met, he was, in fact, a great guy but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t picture myself being thrown over his shoulder—and liking it. Still, grateful for a fun blind date, I hugged my fireman goodbye. But later I learned that what was intended to be a friendly blind-date exit strategy became an unintended point of relationship re-entry. He thought I was interested. I thought he was interesting, but not for me. Which leads to my final blind dating rule…

Rule #5: No mixed signals
At the end of the date, say what you mean and mean what you say. If you’re not feeling it, there’s nothing wrong with a polite “thank you,” a handshake and a good-night. Because there’s always going to be another date after this one… and the person on that one could be The One.

Padma L. Atluri is a freelance writer.
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