Let’s talk about a taboo subject. Blind dates. If you’ve never had one, been happily married since you were sixteen, met your husband/partner/boyfriend in fourth grade and married fresh out of high school, you don’t need to read any further. If you’ve been set up by friends on blind dates, read on, and hopefully this will resonate for you.
I got an email from a friend the other day, bemoaning her most recent blind date. She is a strikingly beautiful, stylish, smart, talented, artistic young woman in her thirties, with a pretty and impeccably neat house, and loves dogs. Well traveled, intelligent, has a masters degree and is an all around lovely person—–and she wrote to tell me that someone had set her up with someone who is ‘gothic’ (the people who wear all black, look like they haven’t seen sunlight in this century, and men and women wear black nail polish too.). If I had been fixing her up with someone, it would have not been someone with a preference for Gothic, to say the least. Her comment at the end of her email reporting on this event was “What must my friends think of me to set me up with a guy like that?” Good question. (I’ve been there myself). Another of my women friends (also attractive, I swear) said to me “I have to wonder how much my friends hate me when I see who they set me up with on blind dates”. As for me, every time I have one, I swear I will never do it again. I must have a really lousy memory because 6 months or a year later, I get suckered into it again. Always with the same results (so far at least).
What I really hate about blind dates is the hope it generates. Your friends tell you how fabulous this person is, you listen, believe them, and start to dream. Then you go on the blind date (after hairdresser, manicure, pedicure, and your favorite new outfit), and then when you get there, you wonder if the Body Snatchers or Aliens stole the guy you were supposed to go out with, and that they described to you in vivid detail and living color—-and you’re stuck with someone who looks like Godzilla, and acts like Frankenstein, or worse. There is nothing more disappointing than a bad blind date (because of the huge build-up provided by friends who are convinced this is The One for you, they are just so sure!!!), and there is nothing more depressing than going home after one of those dates, feeling like your life is over, and this is all that’s left ahead of you, a lifetime of truly horrendously bad blind dates. It feels pathetic. It’s easier to stay home and not even try, but some sort of good sense eventually tells you that you have to at least make an effort, if you’d like to meet someone, so you do it again. (And a blind date allegedly vetted by friends seems a lot safer than other ways to meet men, or women. It provides a screening process, or is supposed to. Yeah, right).
It is not easy for women to meet men, at any age. I know women of every decade who complain about the same thing. Maybe the world has changed. A lot of people work from home, via the Internet, which isolates them. Maybe men are more afraid of commitment than they used to be (relationships, not even marriage), maybe we’re all more isolated, or more scared, or more something. Global warming. But I know terrific women at every age who are having a hell of a time meeting a nice man to have a relationship with. And I know some of you have met your true love on blind dates. Damned if I know how you did it. You must have much smarter friends than I do. Even my friends whom I love have set me up with the weirdest people. People often don’t know the people they set you up with all that well. Few people know other people’s really bad traits. And there are some crazy people out there (many of whom I’ve been fixed up with). You sit there and wonder how you got in this situation and make the best of it over lunch, dinner, coffee, tea, a drink. Food is almost always involved, which sits in my stomach like a rock, while I try to act witty and cool.
Bad blind dates are a favorite movie topic, and accurately portrayed. “Chapter Two” written by Neil Simon (a brother setting up his widowed brother with every freakish woman in New York), the movie “Must Love Dogs”, all her siblings (she has many) set her up in that one. And in “Notting Hill” friends try to do their best for Hugh Grant after he breaks up with Julia Roberts. Some of his blind dates were as bad as mine. Bad blind dates are always good for a laugh, except when they’re happening to you in real life. (They only get funny later on, when you talk about them, not necessarily the night of the date).
And I’ve done it to others too. I recently set up a really good friend with a man I’d met at parties for several years, who was nice looking, intelligent, and funny. He seemed totally eligible and right for her. And I did what everyone else does and sold him heavily. What I didn’t know is that he’s married, a little detail he doesn’t mention when he goes out alone socially. (I had seen him alone for several years). That not so charming detail surfaced and I was mortified at having set her up with someone totally ineligible. So I’ve been guilty of providing the bad set up too.
I don’t know what the answer is, for the setter-upper blind date-provider, or the ‘victim’ of that event. Truth in packaging maybe, knowing your friends better, and trying not to be delusional about who you’re introducing them to. I have had some unbelievably incredible terrible blind dates. I know my friends mean well, but what were they thinking when they picked them out? A man who cheerfully told me he hits on over a thousand women a week on the internet (is that even possible?), a guy who wiped his nose on his sleeve during the entire meal, a man who was old enough to be my grandfather (yes, recently thank you, some people my age still have them!!!), an 85 year old fortune hunter who cheerfully admitted that he’d had 4 wives he’d married for money and was looking for another (I didn’t enlist. and the woman who introduced us has a fabulous husband. HOW could she introduce me to someone like that? On top of it he was unattractive), a religious fundamentalist. It’s hard enough to match up all the notches of one’s personality and life with someone else’s. It’s not always an easy fit. In my case, being famous is a handicap not an asset. Having 9 children scares most men to death (too bad!! I love them!!!). And past a certain age, most men want young women 40 years younger than they are, so the men who should be going out with me want to go out with my daughters. Then there are the ones who pretend to be single, and aren’t (much more so in France), or have scarily strange quirks. I had one 79 year old man tell me to my face that he wouldn’t think of going out with any woman older than 27 (and I’m 20 years younger than he is). Sometimes people on blind dates can be really rude, and act in ways the friends who sponsor them couldn’t imagine. I think blind dates are really a painful process, kind of like throwing mud at a wall to see what sticks. (Not much). But I don’t know any other way to do this. You have to be a good sport, have a great sense of humor, and be able to laugh through your tears. Being on a blind date and feeling rejected by someone can be incredibly humiliating too, and you didn’t even pick the person yourself.
I’ve heard all these complaints from my daughters’ friends in their early twenties, young women I know in their thirties and forties, and women my age. The blind date is a tough sport at best. But it’s one of the few respectable ways I know to meet men, if you are set up by friends (who are supposed to know what they’re doing). I often find that once it turns out to be a disaster, people admit that they had only met the guy once in a dark alley somewhere. (Gee, thanks). Also, the thing I find at my age is that people say that a man is 60—–and they must have been having a really great time in their own lives, and time just flew by—-because it always turns out that the alleged 60 year old is just shy of 80 or just past it, which is great, but maybe not quite so great for me.
And I’m sure that I’m no fabulous deal myself, I have my flaws and quirks, and neurosis’s. I have no idea what people say when they try to sell me to a friend. I’d hate to think. And I’m never as ‘glamorous’ as people expect. I don’t sit around wearing marabou feathers and eating bonbons…I wear blue jeans, love pizza, have a ton of kids, and clean up after the dogs (a lot!!) For those who are expecting Greta Garbo, or some vampy type, I’m definitely not it.
I don’t know what the answer is to the blind date dilemma. It’s supposed to be fun, but a lot of times it just isn’t, if your friends set you up with a lemon. And I’ve sure had my share, from well meaning friends. If we’re out there having blind dates, then we’re alone for whatever reason, by our own choice or someone else’s, and we’d like to be dating or in a relationship again. So we try and try and try again, listen to our friends and go on blind dates. I guess the best advice I can give if you are the recipient of these blind dates is not to lose your sense of humor, and one of these days the right person will come along. And if you’re the setter-upper, please be nice and check out the person you’re setting us up with. Would you go out with him yourself? If not, please don’t set him up with me.
I’m currently on the downward slope of one of those horrible blind dates, where I couldn’t begin to imagine how anyone who likes me would set me up with a nutcase like that. So I’ve sworn off blind dates forever, convinced myself that the next 40 years with my dogs will be more fun, and who cares anyway…….and when the disappointment wears off, again, I’ll probably say yes, again, the next time someone begs me to trust them, and go on a blind date. We’re all in this together, it’s not easy for anyone, and one of these days we’ll get lucky. I’m not much of a gambler, and don’t go to Las Vegas, but blind dates are a bit like that. You take your chances, you roll the dice…..and you lose….or maybe, just maybe, next time you win!!!!! I hope your next blind date is great!!! (And mine too!!). And in the immortal words of Winston Churchill, “Never, Never, Never, Never give up!!” Love, Danielle