Cooking up a good Blind Date

So Cosmopolitan magazine have tentatively asked me to write an article at the end of my 30 Date Challenge, explaining ’30 things I learned from my 30 Blind Dates’.  Watch this space for how that eventually turns out, but a third of my way in, with ten dates down and twenty to go, it has got me thinking about what I might have learned so far.

As you’ll have seen from my post yesterday, when I finish each date write-up, I grade the date out of ten.  It can be tricky to just mark the date itself, as obviously a large part of my enjoyment of the evening (or the afternoon, in the case of Date Two) is based on how well I get on with the man involved (even if I try to remove how much I fancy the guy from the equation!).  I’ve been asked a few times how I actually score the dates, and to be honest there’s very little structure to the marking.  I guess it’s just based on how big my grin is throughout and after the date, versus how many times I’ve had to force myself to be polite and smile, and remind myself that it’s me who came up with the idea of the Blind Date in the first place!

Whilst the grading scheme itself has no definite structure, the more dates I go on, the more I begin to understand what the ingredients of a good date might be …

Obviously physical attraction, and a mutual connection will be the main driving forces of how well you think a date has gone, but putting those more obvious factors aside, it’s important to remember that the key feature of a Blind Date is first impressions.  If you want to see the other person again, then you have just a few hours to present yourself in the best possible light.  And in order to do that, some of the following things can be important …

1) Communication

As I explained on Date Number Seven (The Challenger), first impressions on a blind date start long before the date itself. So far, two of my dates have phoned me directly to introduce themselves, the rest have sent texts, and I’ve definitely started forming opinions about the date from the way the guys have communicated with me in the lead up to the date .  Some of the guys have seemed far too keen – messaging me on a daily basis before we even met (which normally might be a good thing, had I met them online, but bearing in mind that they know about the challenge and how many other dates I’m going on before meeting them, just seems unnecessarily interested….)  Other guys have hit the nail on the head, balancing the right level of keenness with playful suspense, and entertainingly witty texts which have only sought to pique my interest for the date, and help them stand out amongst the 29 other dates.  When a guy confidently tells you he’ll be the best date you’ve ever had, it’s hard not to get at least slightly excited …

2) Suspense

Suspense is something you can definitely play on when it comes to a Blind Date.  There’s already the unknown element of who you’re meeting up with, so why not amplify that suspense by not telling the other person what you’re going to be doing on the date.  It’s something Date Eight (the Fake Pimpernel) nailed with his cryptic clues about the date a few days beforehand, and then by sending me a frustratingly confusing snapshot of part of the ticket when I was travelling into London.

3) Living Up to Expectations

Obviously if you build up the date beforehand, you need to make sure you follow through and live up to the expectations you’ve created.  The Fake Pimpernel didn’t disappoint with his crazy night of fire-breathing, acrobatics, and secret bars, while one of the biggest downfalls of Date Ten (Mr Twenty40) was that I’d been told we were going to a Twenty20 cricket match, only for him to have chosen the wrong game.

4) Excitement

I know I’ve joked about it a lot, but you can always do better than a drink on a first date.  There’s so many exciting things you can try, where you can chat just as much as you would over a dinner or drinks.  Hopefully reading this blog might have given you an idea of some of the things that work (or don’t work!) on a blind date.  For example – cultured afternoon on the London South Bank (Date Two- The One with the Sign) – Check!  Burlesque on a first date (Date Three – The Burlesque Dancer) not good from a girl’s point of view.  No girl wants to see a guy oggling other women (unless she’s not interested in you in the slightest, and just finds it amusing!)

There’s actually a relatively new London dating site called ‘Doing Something!’ based completely on that very premise.  You sign up, and tell everyone online your idea for a good first date.  If someone wants to go on that date with you, they get in touch. (Though I have to admit, when I tried it last year, there seemed very few guys on the site).

5) Command

Whatever you decide to do on the Blind Date, if you’re the one who has initiated the date, make sure you plan everything.  I’m a confident woman, with a relatively powerful job role, and a fair bit of responsibility in my life, but the one time I find it rather nice to feel like a girl, and have a guy make certain decisions for me, is on a first date.  I’m not saying that I want to be submissive in a relationship, but on a first date, I’m more than happy to let a guy take the reigns, and plan the evenings.  The dates I’ve had so far, where I’ve taken the reigns to some degree, and suggested restaurants for dinner etc, have ended up feeling less like dates, and more like evenings out with mates – Date Nine (The Attic Mouse), Date Ten (Mr Twenty40).

There are, however, lines of how commanding to be on a Blind Date!  I once went on a first date, where the guy stole the menu out of my hand, and insisted on ordering all the food (without even checking if there was anything I didn’t eat, or what I particularly liked).  That didn’t go down well at all, and is a date I still remember for all the wrong reasons.

6) Enthusiasm

Whatever you decide to do on the date, make sure you’re enthusiastic about it!  If you’ve decided to do those things, then make sure you show some enthusiasm for the things that you’ve chosen to do!  Mr Twenty40 really ruined the date by being so non-plussed about the cricket – the part of the date I’d been most excited about, and spent the run-up to the date suggesting we go for drinks instead.

By contrast, The Fake Pimpernel was so enthusiastic about the date that it was infectious – something evident from his 9/10 review.

Enthusiasm is conveyed in a number of ways too – it’s not just what you say, or your body language.  Sometimes just going the extra mile and dressing up a bit for a date can make it seem like you’re trying to make a good impression, which is always set to go down well.  Looking back, it’s the dates who’ve turned up in dress shirts that I remember over the rest.

7) Manners

Manners is an interesting one, because sometimes if a first date gets too comfortable, you can easily forget that you’re still making a first impression.  Whether it’s just a matter of being relaxed, or nerves, several of the guys have made toilet-humour comments or jokes around me, which I’ve found quite weird on a first date.  It also makes you feel a bit like the guy sees you as one of the lads, and isn’t necessarily trying to impress you, when they start talking about pee or poo (or the infamous merkins!).  I’m not sure I like talking about sex on a first date either, especially when I’m stone cold sober, as it seems a bit presumptuous.  And whilst I’m no prude, I’m definitely a sucker for some old-fashioned decorum.  Door-opening, and chair moving is always appreciated, though on the date with The Challenger, I was completely confused when he reached back to awkwardly push me through the door ahead of him!

8) Compliments

It’s a simple one, but it works.  Obviously you need to be careful, because too many can seem disingenuous, but as a girl, when you look back on a date, you do remember the compliments.  Whether they’re as silly as a guy telling you you have a good golf swing (The Attic Mouse, clearly lying), or a guy telling you how beautiful you look (The Challenger and the Fake Pimpernel, again maybe lying 😉 ).

9) The Money Dance

I think the ‘Money Dance’ is always a good indicator of how well a date is going.  If your Blind Date is happy to pay for your dinner, it’s a sign that they’ve either enjoyed the night, or that they’re such a gentleman, they can’t not offer to pay.  As I explained with Mr Twenty40, if I haven’t enjoyed myself, I won’t let a guy pay for my meal, as I feel like I’m leading them on by accepting their generosity.

If a date is going well, I like it when a guy settles the bill without me even noticing (The Challenger paid for our meal while I was in the loo).  It avoids the awkwardness of the gallant gesture of paying, but is still done in a way where you know they have paid for the meal.

(At this point I should probably stress that I’m not going on 30 dates just for 30 freebie nights out, and have tried my best on almost all the dates (apart for the ones where the guy has insisted) to split the costs of the night as much as possible!)

10) Originality

If you want to be remembered, do something different.  Obviously most girls going on blind dates aren’t going on ten a month, but the same applies to anyone going speed dating, or trying online dating.  In this day and age, where you can easily become just a name written on a sticker at a singles event, or an inch-square photo on a dating website, it’s important to try to be memorable.  Looking back, the dates I remember are normally the bad ones, so if you can make your date remember you for good reasons then you’re doing well.  Play around with the location, think about points 1), 2) and 4) above …. How can you get a date to remember you for all the right reasons?

Whenever people chat to me about the blog, the guys they remember most are –

Date Number Two – because he turned up with a Sign

Date Number Three – because of his awful questions about merkins and nipple tassles (!)

and Date Number Eight – because everyone now wants to visit the Evans and Peel detective agency.

Let’s see if any of the next twenty dates inadvertently follow my blind date advice, or whether the next twenty dates will all be memorable for the wrong reasons!

Miss Twenty-Nine xxx

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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