Blind Dating in the Digital Age

Blind dates no longer exist. Nowadays I go on a “blind” date already having seen pictures, his likes, his friends, and the fact that he posts pictures of barely dressed models on his wall. By the time we meet for that first date, I have already made up my mind on whether it will go well or not.

I started getting set up on blind dates about 10 years ago before Facebook and before it was that normal to have digital pictures of yourself. So when I embarked on that first blind meeting all I had to go on was what my friend had told me about him. He was smart and nice (what I am almost always told when being set up), he was 32 and was born and raised in Venezuela. He called me on the phone and we spoke for about 5-10 minutes before setting up a date and time, but that was it. As the day approached I created my own image of him based on the scarce information I had, the sound of his voice, and the basically what I wanted him to be like. I remember the nausious feeling I had as I stepped out of my building to meet him not knowing if he’d fill those expectations or what was in store for me.

I saw him and obviously he looked nothing like the image I had concocted in my head, but who could live up to those expectations? The date went OK…in my opionion we had no connection. He was nice enough, but from our interview like first date and at my ripe age of 23, I did not feel that there was enough commonality or a spark to keep at it.

Through the years I’ve been on a lot of dates but as the digital world has evolved, it is nothing like that first one. It typically starts off the same. A friend or a friend of a friend or a parent’s friend finds some other single 30 or 40 something and says that he is really smart and nice so they thought of me. That part never changes. The difference now is that the first thing I do is go to Facebook. If they don’t have too many privacy settings set up, I can see pictures they’ve been tagged in, their likes, recent posts to their walls…I am basically tapping into their personality before the date.

My mind starts racing with assumptions.

He’s always at some party surrounded by lots of people…I don’t think it’s going to work with someone who is out and about all the time. I am a homebody. I want someone to drag me out from time to time, but I don’t think that he is for me. OR

Why doesn’t it seem like he has any friends? Why are all the pictures of him by himself or with what appears to be his mom? The irony is not lost on me.

Wow he seems to travel a lot that is awesome. He went to a good school for both undergrad and grad. He likes Community and Mad Men…cool. Oh wait, what is he wearing? Why did he think that shirt was a good idea?

I know, I know…this is making me seem like a horrible judgemental person, but I am just being honest. We all, or at least most of us, do this. I am fully expecting that they are doing the same thing with my profile. We don’t let ourselves be surpsrised by anything anymore. The thing is that the profiles have never stopped me from actually going on the date (well only once because everything on his wall was objectifying women). I still always go, although they now have to pass over a hurdle that they don’t even know exists.

I go on the date trying to have an open mind and sometimes the date goes just how I was expecting from my social media search or worse and sometimes they go so much better than I expected. Its still a crap shoot just like it was 10 years ago. Instead of contending with what my imagination came up, which frankly were probably too high expectations for anyone to meet, they are now contending with the image that Facebook and a Google search might have helped me create.

Is it still an even playing field? I’m not sure. I do know that at least I know what they look like when I get to wherever we’re meeting instead of scanning the room for someone in a blue button-down and jeans.

I think what’s worse is what happens after that first date. To me the second date has always been more nervewracking than the first. You have nothing to lose on the first date. You don’t know him. If it doesn’t work out, there are no true hurt feelings (maybe just a slight feeling of rejection) and you go back to the way you were prior. If you’ve lined up a second one, at least one of you is interested enough to have wanted to keep getting to know each other. It’s kind of like the first date if you hadn’t been set up.

This is the point where I want to really impress him. I want him to like me more than he did the first time. I want to live up to his expectations.

After the first date if we friend each other on Facebook, I start stressing out about what he’s going to think now that he has full access. Is he going to be turned off by my taste in movies? Is he going to wonder why I take so many pictures of the Thanksgiving dinners I cook each year? Is he going to assume that I have little social life if most of my pictures are of scenery and not people? Will he laugh at my most recent post venting my frustration on traffic patterns? All of this starts going through my head. It’s the insecurity creeping in. Here I’ve been making all these thoughts and likes public and now I wish I had just kept them to myself.

When we are on the second date, I am wondering how long it will be before he asks about that trip to Europe or North Carolina. Is there etiquette involved? Do you pretend not to know any of those things yet? Is common etiquette to find these things out through time and casual conversations? It feels initimate to have already peered into his life and seen what his parents and siblings look like…to see his home. Aren’t these things I should know until much later in the dating process?

It is the way the world works now unless you’re dating one of those rare individuals that don’t have a Facebook profile. They do exist.

2 thoughts on “Blind Dating in the Digital Age”

  1. Had a good chuckle on this one Shar. It’s such a poignant commentary on the new digital world. How much we’ve gained and how much we’ve lost. Love reading the posts!

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