Be Prepared: 5 Tips for Blind Dating Success

When Your Friends Play Cupid

Singles beware: Valentine's Day will give some of your well-meaning friends the urge to play matchmaker, and they might have their sights on you. Yes, setups can be frightening -- and not just because the guy could be a total dork. If you don't like your date, you are questioning your friend's taste. If you like him but you're not sure how he feels, you could be tempted to (unwisely) use your friend as a go-between. Maybe, you'll like him, but he'll reject you. The possibilities are endless -- not to mention the fact that fewer than 10 percent of people say they met their soul mate on a blind date, according to a recent national survey.

But what if you are destined to be among those 10 percent? There is only one way to find out. Go on the date! Allowing your friend to be your personal cupid doesn't have to be so nerve-wracking -- and it just might lead you to true love. With that said, a few blind date guidelines:

Take the "blind" out of blind dating.

This means, don't agree to go out with someone sight unseen. First, ask your friend a few probing and well-phrased questions. For instance, don't just ask, "Is he good-looking?" Her taste is no doubt different than yours, and you should be flexible about looks anyway. (Not every guy is going to look like Brad Pitt. After all, are you Jennifer Aniston?) But you should know what you're getting into. Instead ask, "So how tall is he? How much does he weigh?" "If you were casting his character in a movie, who would play him?"

You should also find out his romantic history. If he's already got three engagements to his credit, do you really want to be number four? Find out his profession. Dating coach Liz Kelly says other questions to pop include, "Why do you think we might be a good match? What do we have in common?" Your unattached status should not be the only thing you share. "How would you describe his outlook on life?" asks Kelly, author of Smart Man-Hunting. "Attitude is everything." Finally, it's important to know how well your friend knows the guy. Did she meet him on the bus, or is he the best friend of her brother?

Don't say yes if you want to say no.

Only agree to the date if you genuinely want to meet the person. If you say, "Sure, give him my number" solely to please your friend, you're not doing anyone a favor. Remember, she is putting in a lot of effort to make this date happen. And, as far as you know, he has the desire to meet a great woman: you.

Control your own destiny.

You might prefer to exchange phone numbers and/or email addresses with your intended, so you can have an initial conversation to decide whether to actually meet. If a blind date seems like too much pressure, you can offer alternative scenarios such as a double date or a brunch all three of you attend. "You could suggest to your friend that you'd rather meet the potential blind date at a dinner party, so it is less of a twosome situation," suggests Dr. Jan Yager, author of 125 Ways to Meet the Love of Your Life. Deciding how to approach the first meeting is dependent on your personality, feelings and level of comfort. Only you know what is best for you, so don't let yourself be bullied into an unpleasant dating experience.

Be nice after the date -- no matter what happens.

If it was the longest two hours and 50 minutes of your life -- well, other than the time you were stuck in endless gridlock on your way to a job interview, big deal. Your temporary discomfort isn't an excuse for an indignant rant to your friend: "Do you hate me so much? He's got bad breath, he's cheap, he spits food when he talks over dinner..." Remember, not only did your friend think that she was doing you a favor, but she happens to like the guy. Insulting him is insulting her taste.

Then, there are your date's feelings to consider. Perhaps, intimate details were revealed (for example, he has herpes) that your matchmaker doesn't know. "No matter how you feel about him, anything you share should be done in a way that maintains the blind date's privacy and integrity," says Yager. "Also, if you're not smitten but decide to give him another chance, and romance blossoms, you don't want to regret any bad-mouthing. Bottom line: Be honest and open, but discreet as well."

That is a sound policy to maintain when kissing off any guy who just doesn't do it for you. At date's end, be polite and friendly but don't lead him on. If he asks you out, say something like, "I'm flattered. I think you're a terrific person and tonight was a lot of fun. But I just don't see us as compatible, so I'd better say no."

If you're crazy about him but your phone stays mum, don't put your friend in an awkward situation by begging her to make him call. Say you'd be open to a second date, and then let it go. She'll be the first to report if he wants to see you again -- that's what she wants as well. If she's tactfully silent, you should be the same.

Show your gratitude. Your friend is the one doing you a favor -- even if you don't think it's much of a favor. Thank her for the offer regardless of whether you go on the date. If you go and the date is a disaster, don't let it come between you and your cupid. Take her out for a "thank you" lunch or dinner. As the saying goes, "Men may come and go, but good friends last forever."

So you want to play cupid for one of your friends? Discover 6 tips you need to know before you set up anyone on a blind date.

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