There are few things in the realm of love and courtship that are scarier than a blind date.
No matter how much thought friends put into finding the right girl/guy for us, there's a reason -- in fact, lots of reasons -- why most people are resistant to going to dinner with a complete stranger.
That said, there's a lot that can be learned about yourself (and others) from a blind date. They may not often lead to marriage, but anonymous dinners, movies, and coffees are great learning experiences. Here are 10 things we've learned from blind dates.
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10. Most people are incredibly boring.
To the contrary of what a lot of Facebook and Instagram posts want you to believe, it appears to us that the majority of Americans (or at least Arizonans) tend to lead exceedingly dull lives. There's no shame in working a 9-to-5, but when all you can talk about is the importance of starting an IRA in your 20s or why the company you work for isn't as evil as people portray it to be, forgive us for losing interest relatively quickly. There has to be more to people than what they do to make a living, right? Well, apparently not the ones we get set up with, except for their love of pop songs with empowering messages and "the outdoors."
9. You have to try, but only a little.
It's hard enough to figure out what level of effort to put into a date when you actually know the person you're going out with. When it comes to a blind date, it's near impossible to find that happy medium of not coming off as totally careless, but also not trying too hard. Putting in too much effort can be a turn-off for the other person (see: desperation) and will definitely cost you all of that time shaving, picking out the perfect shoes, and making sure that one unruly hair is properly tamed. Putting in no effort isn't any better, so we think the right balance is at approximately 15 to 20 percent effort for a blind date, but we're willing to wait until the Internet releases a study on that.
8. Stereotypes can be very accurate.
You know those "basic" girls and basic bros everyone makes jokes about? Those people are very real, and they seem to be very much a part of the blind dating scene. The accuracy of some cultural stereotypes doesn't end there though, as many of the 20-somethings of the world seem to be quite keen on perpetuating a good portion of stereotypes associated with Millennials. Maybe the reason they're on blind dates is because they're still living like ASU undergrads at the age of 26, but you wouldn't believe how many questions a single person can ask about which Instagram filters they should use.
7. Everyone eats differently.
Have you ever really paid attention to how people eat? There are those who eat everything together, then there are "food separatists," then you get to those weird folks who make a sandwich out of everything, and that's just to start. You probably don't put much thought into how you eat, because you've likely always (or almost always) eaten like that. Next time you go on a blind date, examine how the other person eats their food. They're probably doing it on best behavior (since it's a first date), so it's almost like looking into their mind to see how they think people should eat food, rather than how they would normally shovel food down their throat.
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6. Your positive/negative traits are similar to nearly everyone.
In our blind (and not-blind) dating experience, we've noticed that the people we end up dating for more than a weekend tend to like (and dislike) similar things about us. Sure, everyone has different tastes, but if you're used to being complimented on your shy intelligence and your date tells you how much they like your confidence, they clearly don't see you in the same light that previous partners did. Maybe that means they'll work out where others didn't, but it seems to us that it's more likely that there won't be much of a connection there.
5. One good story beats 100 clever lines.
We can sit here all day and talk about the clever, funny, witty, and intelligent responses we've given on dates, but when you're on a blind date, it's tough to know exactly what the other person will think is funny (more on that later). In our encounters, we've found that a well-told interesting and compelling story is a much easier way to bridge the gap between dinner and drinks. Of course, you have to do a little bit of character-judging to determine what type of story you want to tell, but if you have a few in your pocket, at least one should fit in with your perceived realm of appropriateness with your mostly anonymous potential mate.
4. Alcohol can be your friend.
Soberly striking up conversation with a stranger at a bar can be challenging. Going on a blind date without the assistance of booze is a lot like that, but without an easy exit strategy. If you walk up to a random bar patron and things don't go well, you can just walk away, not much worse for the attempt. On a blind date, the two of you presumably know at least one or two of the same people, which means that there isn't really a quick and easy clean getaway if things don't go so well. After a few drinks, that barfly seems much more approachable, and you're finding yourself engaged in semi-drunken philosophical conversation with the blind date whose name you can't quite remember.
3. Never underestimate the importance of entertainment.
Yep, we totally stole the name of this lesson from the best Funny Games quote, and not learning it will kill your blind date as slowly and painfully as the family in (either version of) that movie. You can be on a date with the hottest person on the planet, and if the experience is super boring, you're probably never going to want to see them (clothed) again. Remember what we said earlier about most people being boring? Well, if played correctly, even the most boring of lives can be entertaining for at least the length of a blind date. We're not saying you need to make anything up or embellish on who you are, just think of a blind date as a good time for a highlight reel of your life rather than the play-by-play. Whether you're talking about your work or telling the story of your last Vegas trip, keep it short, sweet, and highly entertaining, or we're going to lose interest before dessert is even served.
2. You're not as funny or cute as you think you are.
You know those times when your friends/family tell you how funny/hot/awesome you are? Odds are, they're probably lying to you a little bit. It's not that you're not hilarious or good-looking, it's that you're probably not as hilarious or good-looking as your friends and family say you are. Go into a blind date assuming that the other person isn't going to think you look like a super model or doesn't understand your sense of humor, and if they do, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Not everyone is going to think you're the greatest person they've ever dined with, so you have to be prepared to switch to an alternate approach if you want to improve your odds of a blind date working out.
1. Finding things in common with strangers can be really tough.
No matter how much of a social butterfly you may be, getting along with every stranger that your friends think you'd get along with is nearly impossible. Whether they're an editor at a magazine, a sales rep for an online company, a director of marketing, or a gas station attendant, you're not going to have everything in common with everyone. Finding common ground can be difficult, but it's not impossible. As we've learned the hard way, everyone is human, and regardless of profession, upbringing, race, and any other differences, everyone has some experiences in common. Sure, it can be like finding the one safe path through a minefield, but it can be done. We're not saying you'll be able to connect with everyone on a deep philosophical level, but you should be able to get through the blind date at least.