Take A Leap Of Faith And Let Your Friends Set You Up On Blind Dates

No doubt: The dating scene is tough. Sometimes it feels like the search for Mr. or Ms. Right has become a quest for Mr. or Ms. Right Now. Between the isolation of the COVID-19 lockdowns and the ubiquity of players on dating apps, finding a meaningful and lasting relationship seems about as easy as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

But the reality is that, no matter how challenging dating in the 21st century may be, it's worth the effort. And the science proves it. Time and again, researchers have found that healthy relationships dramatically enhance your overall quality of life, boosting both your physical and your mental health (via UT Health Austin). And the good news doesn't end there. Having a healthy social life helps to combat depression, anxiety, and loneliness while boosting your immune system and even supporting heart health.

What this means, ultimately, is that the connections you build when you cultivate a strong social life will help you to lead a healthier, happier, and longer life — and, when you do find "the one," you're going to come to the relationships a more complete and fulfilled person. But how do you go about dating when likely candidates are so hard to find? The answer is pretty simple, really: Enlist your friends. Blind dating may sound uncomfortable and even a bit scary, but if you take a leap of faith, you might just find yourself jumping into something magical!

Blind dates keep your dating muscles toned

One of the first and most important benefits of blind dating is that it helps you keep those "dating muscles” toned. After all, dating is a social skill, not an instinct. Precious few of us are born with the talent for feeling at ease and authentic in unfamiliar environments and with people we don't really know. In fact, even extroverts experience social anxiety from time to time.

And that's a problem because such social anxiety, as common as it is, may very well prevent you from discovering a true connection with a potential partner. Going on blind dates allows you to practice your conversational skills. Above all, it helps you to be comfortable in what can otherwise be an awkward social situation. 

Casual, blind dating can help you learn to enjoy the experience instead of stressing over it. And it's only when you learn to relax, be yourself, and be present when you're on a blind date that you can hope to make a meaningful connection. As your anxiety begins to abate, you will be better able to see the person you're with for who they are — and to allow yourself to be seen in return. 

It gets you off dating apps

Since the pandemic, the number of people turning to dating apps to find love has surged, but there's increasing evidence that dating apps aren't always great for your mental health. According to Acenda Integrated Health, dating apps have been linked to a worsening of depression and anxiety in those with "existing mood disorders." And evidence suggests that even those without such conditions may begin to manifest symptoms after turning to dating apps.

It's not hard to understand why. Only a small percentage of matches made on a dating app actually progress beyond the conversation stage and onto a real date, after all. And then, of course, there's the ever-present worry about hooking up not with a love connection but with a scammer when you match with someone on a dating app. 

The failure of many potential relationships to progress from the online realm to the real world can contribute to a significant feeling of rejection. At the same time, worries about who you might actually be connecting with can be a tremendous source of anxiety. Blind dates orchestrated by trusted friends and family members help you get off the emotional rollercoaster of the dating app while enabling you to still maintain a thriving dating life.

Blind dates get you out of the house and with people

We've already seen how important an active social life and strong relationships, both romantic and platonic, are to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. And blind dating can be a significant factor in keeping you engaged and connected.

For instance, the odds are pretty good that you're going to have your blind date in a public setting, such as a restaurant or bar. That's good because not only is a public meeting a safer option, but it's also better for you. Even if you don't make a love connection, you still get out into the world with others. Social engagement is critical to combating loneliness and improving your overall health.

You might even decide to amplify the perks a bit by planning a more active date than just the traditional dinner and a movie. Talk with your date ahead of time and see if you can coordinate a fun activity, such as indoor wall climbing or an escape room game. If you seem to make a spark, you can always head out for drinks or dinner afterward. Regardless, you'll be getting out and having fun while you test the waters with your potential love.

You get to shake your dating life up a bit

When looking for love, it's easy to develop a pretty extensive (and unrealistic) checklist and immediately disregard anyone who doesn't fill it exactly. Blind dates can help you throw away the checklist, at least for a while, and try new things. After all, when you entrust your romantic life to someone else, even if only for the span of one blind date, you're relinquishing some measure of control.

And that can be a tremendously important character-building exercise, especially if you've fallen into a pattern of being too picky when dating. Your friends, for instance, might connect you with someone you would never have thought of in a million years, someone eons away from your normal criteria. And that person may well be the one to incite a spark you never knew existed — and that's a great way to learn about yourself and what you really want from a partner!

Using casual blind dating to help you maintain a healthy and active social life means that when you're ready to make a commitment, you won't wonder what you missed out on just because you were too anxious, insecure, or unpracticed to make the most of your dating life. You will be ready and eager to move on to the next stage of your life, safe in the knowledge that you made the most of all that came before, without being constrained by your tired old checklist.

Your date is already pre-screened

One of the biggest perks of a blind date is that you're not going out with a stranger, really. And, unless you're in the habit of dating close friends (which isn't always exactly the best option, of course), the opportunity to go on a date with someone who's already been vetted doesn't come along very often.

When you go on a blind date, though, your date is already known to the people you trust the most: your friends and family. And that means they've already met some pretty rigorous standards! At the very least, you can feel pretty safe in assuming that they are who they say they are and that they mean well.

Chances are, for example, they're not just looking for a hookup — that can get pretty complicated, after all, when you know the person's friends or family. And there are few better ways to begin a true love story than by being on the same page with your intentions and expectations right from the start.

Sometimes your friends really do know best

It might feel like a given that no one knows better than you who your perfect mate will be, but that's not always the case. After all, we all like to imagine ourselves to be pretty self-aware, but we all have our personal blind spots. And that can make for some pretty bad decisions and some pretty foolish mistakes.

For instance, you might not be able — or willing — to recognize the toxic dating habits you've fallen into since your last relationship ended. You may not be able to see how a  previous heartbreak is causing you to choose less-than-ideal partners. But your close friends are going to have the benefit of distance and perspective. They're not going to be operating from a place of past pain or future fear, as you might be (especially if you've had your heart broken recently).

And those little insecurities that can so detrimentally shape your dating habits aren't an issue because your loved ones see and love you for who you are. They recognize the gifts — and the quirks — that you may be blind to. And that means that it may well be your friends and family who will have the greatest insight into the kind of partner you need to feel happy, healthy, and fulfilled. And they're probably going to see far sooner than you might, which prospective partners don't quite measure up.

Your hormones won't be the determining factor

Sexual attraction is one of the last great mysteries. We still don't entirely understand what makes us fall hard for one person and not at all for another, no matter how seemingly perfect they are on paper. Let's face it: When it comes to dating, hormones really can get in the way. We might fall hard for someone entirely wrong for us just because of the sexual attraction we feel while ignoring a potential soulmate just because sparks don't fly immediately.

A blind date isn't based on sexual attraction from the outset, and that can be a very good thing when you're hoping to build something meaningful and enduring. Sexual attraction, unlike romantic attraction, is a surface-level allure. It's chemical. And while it's fun while it lasts, if it's not undergirded by something deeper, it will flame out quickly.

Blind dates aren't built on such a rocky foundation. They're based on a quality that those close to you believe could develop into something deeper, and that means you get the chance to test that possibility for yourself. Sexual attraction, after all, may very well evolve from a romantic attraction, but it's harder for a mutual (and enduring) emotional connection to emerge from a purely physical relationship.

You learn to manage expectations

When you have a first date, especially with someone you already know and are attracted to, your expectations can run wild. Before you know it, you're secretly picking out china patterns and planning the bachelorette party. And that means that you can end up falling way too hard, way too fast. After all, we've all had the experience of rushing into a relationship when we've let our expectations spiral out of control. And we all know how that can be the perfect recipe for failure.

But a blind date requires you to manage your expectations, to be both more open to possibilities and more realistic. After all, you don't know the person, so you don't know what to expect. You have to pause and be mindful. You have to stay grounded in the present rather than rushing ahead into some fairytale future. Your purpose is to watch, learn, consider, and evaluate — all of which are critical when you're looking for a real partner and not just a drive-by.

So, if you're someone who's always ready to leap before you look, blind dating can be a great way to tame that impulse. It can teach you the fine art of being content in the moment, of learning to enjoy the true and deep pleasure of a nice dinner with a pleasant companion without automatically amplifying one good evening into the greatest love story of all time.

Blind dates make you challenge yourself

Blind dating has a lot of advantages. We've already established that. But it's also true that blind dating isn't always easy. You have to challenge yourself to thrive in an unfamiliar and often uncomfortable situation. It would be easier, after all, just to sit at home with Netflix and your cat.

But accepting a blind date asks you to require more for and of yourself. And that requires a good deal of self-confidence. No one enters into an uncertain situation without at least a reasonable sense of self-assurance and a fair amount of confidence that, no matter what happens, they'll be able to handle it.

You have to have faith that you can manage an uncomfortable moment and respond with poise and grace even when the sparks don't fly. You have to learn to trust your instincts and your wits, which means you have to use them often. When you challenge yourself to accept the potential discomfiture of a blind date, you're inevitably building self-confidence (and self-competence). You're honing the skills you need to find the humor and the enjoyment no matter what life — or a blind date — may bring. And that's a pretty powerful fringe benefit!

Blind dates can help you move beyond bad experiences

Everyone has had their heart broken at some point, and it can be incredibly frightening to try again after such a painful experience. But a casual blind date can help you begin to move on from a breakup, learning to trust yourself — and another potential partner — again.

When you decide to reenter the dating scene after a divorce or the dissolution of a long-term relationship, chances are you're not exactly looking for a commitment. Your heart is probably only prepared for something casual. You're probably looking for a bit of fun, not for a lot of forever.

And there's nothing at all wrong with that. A casual blind date can be exactly what you need to start feeling like yourself again. You get the benefit of being out of the house and out in the world. You get the fun of dressing up, if you choose, and being squired about by your date. And you get the pleasure of knowing that life did not end when your relationship did. There are still good times to be had and lots of interesting people to share them with. The spark of interest in another person's eyes can be exactly the antidote you need for the bruising your self-confidence may have taken in the aftermath of your breakup.

Blind dates can be fun and rewarding if you let them

As we've seen, dating doesn't always have to be an audition for some life-long commitment. When you're healing from a broken heart or simply at a stage of your life where a commitment isn't exactly what you want or need, dating casually can be an ideal option. Depending on your situation and intentions, you can enjoy a no-strings-attached blind date. That can take the pressure off while helping you to enjoy a fun, active social life. These casual blind dates are a great way to enjoy new experiences, meet new people, and live your best single life.

Casual blind dates are also going to help keep you engaged and vital. There's no better way, after all, to maintain your passion for and curiosity about life, the world, and other people than by being out and about in it. And that means that if and when the time comes for you to pursue something more serious and permanent, you will have no doubts and no regrets. You won't lament what you might have done. You'll have made your leap of faith, and even if you didn't find your one true love on a blind date, you will still have become a healthier, stronger, and more complete person because of them.