Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Blind Date Paradox

I don't know how many blind dates I've been on over the years.  More than some, a lot less than others.  But one thing remains constant: I have never been on a repeat with any of them.

That being said, I can say with gratitude that I have been on only a few BAD blind dates.  I do not have the nightmare stories so many of my female friends can recite chapter and verse as if Freddy Kreuger just dropped them off at the doorstep.  The majority of my blind date experiences have been of the mid-range, "nice girl but no spark" variety, not the "this person is a psychopath; why is he/she licking the glove compartment?" variety.

Maybe that's why in spite of my track record, I still have to keep considering these opportunities.  At the age of thirteen I saw the Utah Jazz overcome an 8-point deficit to the Chicago Bulls with 40 seconds left in regulation, so I don't have a history of giving up on hopeless causes.

Plus my parents met on one.

One reason so many blind dates don't work is that the people arranging them don't do a lot of homework on the people they're setting up.  They tend to minimize things, thinking "Guy X has a sense of humor.  So does this single girl I know.  Bingo!"  Or in my case, age becomes the magical ingredient.  "Josh is in his 30's.  So is this single girl I know.  Bingo!"  As if I won't have anything in common with a 25-year-old.

To be honest, the biggest problem with blind dates is a little axiom that everyone knows but tries to ignore: if there is no physical attraction, the game is over.  It can take a dozen dates to figure out if someone matches my personality (recovering night owl) or shares my values (road trips and homemade salsa), but I can tell within 2.17 seconds whether I want to kiss her.

I've tried to lay down the law with blind dates.  I've tried to persuade my would-be matchmaker to invite us both to the same party, and see if we hit it off naturally.  I've tried to get them to ask themselves honestly, "would Josh ask this girl out on his own?" I've tried to mandate that the dates are kept to one-hour quick-release power lunches at sniper-proof public locations that don't require tips, or that the person propositioning me provide a photograph beforehand.  But none of those strategies ever really work.  How do you in good conscience look at a photograph of a real live human being, then look at your well-meaning friend (who may be related to this person), and say "no thanks?"  You can't.  Instead you mumble some excuse, crack a joke to get them off-topic, or tell them you'll let them know if you're interested (knowing you'll never get back to them).  Or you just suck it up, go on the date, and try to be as much of a gentleman as humanly possible, because you know that even if you aren't interested in the girl in the least, you would never forgive yourself if you knew you had hurt her feelings.

...and the cycle continues.

On the way home from almost every one of my blind dates, I think the same thing: "Josh, you just need to man up and ask out the girls you're interested in."  If that's what comes out of it, then maybe blind dates aren't such a bad thing.