Is Blind Dating A Good Idea?
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Ever been on a blind date? No, not the Blind Date, but a proper, bonafide, I-have-no-idea-what-to-expect, blind date. No? Well, here’s why you should give it a go.
My first blind date happened on TV. I volunteered myself to be a ‘background dater’ on Channel 4’s dating series First Dates. The thing is — first dates are quite nerve-wracking. And this particular meeting was going to be a blind first date, on TV, with the prospect of the entire nation watching and hearing my every move/sentence. This I had failed to consider.
First Dates sees two people come together for a genuine first date right in front of the camera. Whilst the show focuses on 4 or 5 main first dates (that are mic’d up – a situation I’d run a mile from), all the dates in the restaurant are real blind dates. I had no photo to go on, just a name and some promising words from the producer who paired us up. “The girl you’re dating is gorgeous,” he grinned. “We think we’ve excelled ourselves at matching you guys up”. I immediately felt a bit better.
Upon arriving, I was shown to my table and told my date (we’ll call her Jemima) would be with me in the next few minutes. The production team staggered the arrivals so that the guys are already there waiting for the girl. As I sat at my table in the (very fancy) Paternoster Chophouse, my mind began racing. I realise it’s wrong for me to have made this assumption but, in the back of my mind, I worried would she would be judgmental because she was really pretty. I would bet a lot of guys insecurely consider this stereotypical possibility when faced with attractive women.
Far more pressingly, I began panicking about how I would actually recognise her. And how I should I sit. And the fact that all this worrying was causing me to sweat a fair bit. Should I order a drink to settle my nerves or politely wait for her arrival? Frankly, a double gin and tonic was required, regardless of etiquette. I ordered a double G&T, sat back and tried to ignore the 20 or so remotely-controlled cameras lined up along the wall opposite me.
Ten tense minutes later, Jemima arrived. I nearly swallowed an ice cube. She was beautiful. The maître d’ brought her over to our table and I stood to kiss her on the cheek and pull out her chair. Jemima was a TV presenter with a dazzling smile and a natural confidence which, considering the situation we’d been thrown into, was a little unnerving. I suppose it’s her job to keep cool under pressure and, well, she was nailing it.
We discovered we had loads in common; similar professions, a mutual love of spicy food, similar music tastes, deep affection for cats. I reminded myself to shake the Channel 4 producer guy’s hand.
Then, a bumpy moment. The menu’s rather vast options led to the evening’s first awkward silence. I mentally sped through my bank of fail-safe conversation starters. I was stumped. My advice? 1.) Don’t worry about it. Dates will almost always have a few semi-sticky quiet moments. 2.) If you’re gazing at a cartoonishly oversized menu, just make a joke about it. 3.) Figure out how comfortable your date is with the odd bit of quiet. Some people are perfectly content to let the sound of silence wash over a date. Jemima would wait for me to start talking again each time we hit the conversational buffers, which led to a few additionally Made In Chelsea-esque awkward silences, but I soon realised not to worry. This was just her way and that’s perfectly fine.
Our date lasted a thoroughly enjoyable 3 hours plus, semi-awkward silences and all. We rabbited on about all sorts of things; how cats should really rule the planet, why all the other daters in the room were really here (we won’t go into that) and why south London is, in fact, definitively better than the north (sorry). But whilst we talked like of a pair of old friends, Jemima still seemed guarded. Perhaps it was the fact she’d just come back onto the dating scene. It didn’t instinctively feel like a perfect match but, either way, we’re still in touch – and I’d be delighted to have Jemima as a new mate. Better still, who knows what the future may hold.
Regardless of our long term future, I don’t think a girl like Jemima would have approached me in a bar ordinarily. And I’d have probably placed her out of my league and not approached her either. This is sometimes the way it goes. Approaching someone can often be the biggest barrier and, more often than not, it means you don’t discover how your reservations or first impressions (like mine about Jemima) can be completely wrong. But a blind date, like the one I had on First Dates, bypasses all of this uncertainty, and fear of rejection, and plants you in a date scenario without you even having to think about how you’d have initiated first contact. It’s a chance game but blind dating is definitely worth a try — who knows, you may even meet the love of your life.
For five tips on how to get over those first date nerves, take a look at Page Two.