What Not to Do on a Blind Date 

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, The Dating Game

I went on a blind date, and I thought it was doomed to failure from the beginning. It was set up by a friend of my mother’s, which is an idea I’m just all-around opposed to. I don’t like the thought of being pressured into a dating-type scenario; I want the date to be my idea.

He texted me probably a week prior. We had some good text conversations and some meaningless, dull text conversations — at least from my point of view. After all, he was a CPA… and I had no idea what a CPA and a candidate for a Master’s degree in communications with an interest in community theatre would have in common. Since he went to church, as do I, my mother thought it was a logical fit. But even via text message, I need to feel as though the conversation has… meaning and depth, and I didn’t.

I showed up for our date, which was at a very touristy Italian restaurant in Manhattan, about an hour late thanks to unreliable New York transit. I was anxious at best and I donned a black sequined dress. There’s the first lesson: never wear a black sequined strapless dress to a blind date, or to any first date! When my date realized who I was and gave my dress the once-over, I’m reasonably sure his eyes came out of his head. And not in a good way. More like in a “deer in the headlights” way.

The rest of the evening was filled with more of my eccentric behavior and overt feminism. I talked about my theatre company, my general distaste for all things mathematical (to a CPA, because that makes sense) and, as I don’t believe in the convention of the man automatically picking up the tab on any date, I’m reasonably sure I embarrassed him when I fought with him over the bill. Yes, I took it so far that he partially consented and I took care of the tip.

Where did I go wrong here? Well, it could be asked, where didn’t I go wrong, but we’ll break it down. The poor guy clearly had no interest in theatre, he only does math for a living and he was old-fashioned, so I’m sure he felt uncomfortable with my insistence on taking some of the bill.

To make matters worse, he had been dealing with a family emergency during the day and was nice enough to come anyway. I’d let him talk about the situation but couldn’t cope with awkward silences when he just didn’t feel like talking anymore. I don’t remember much of what I talked about, but the conversation was pretty one-sided.

Now I don’t know if it would have worked out had the date taken a different turn (i.e. if we were actually compatible). Regardless, let’s recap what not to do should you find yourself on a blind date.

  • Don’t wear something that looks overly ostentatious or is trying to make a statement, especially when you don’t know what that statement is.
  • Don’t show up an hour late. If this situation looks like it could be a possibility, try to plan ahead to avoid it.
  • Don’t make awkward conversation that’s only about you and your life.
  • At the same time, don’t try too hard to appear overly invested in the other person’s interests – only to follow-up with how much said interests bore you.
  • Don’t get overly political.
  • Don’t embarrass your date when your date wants to do something nice for you.
  • Don’t try to overcompensate for awkward silences.

Blind dates are uncomfortable to begin with. Hopefully with these tips, you’ll have some better luck than I did.

When It’s Not a Date

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, The Dating Game

What I’m about to share with you is nothing short of a dating-related horror story. That said, it’s an opportunity to draw from and grow, and in turn offer advice.

I thought it was a date.

I was a few years out of college at the time and we’d been unable to coordinate our schedules. I fully thought it felt like a date. Come to think of it, I should have consulted with my peers, who were (and still are) significantly more experienced at playing the field than I am. But when we arrived — separately — it didn’t take me long to realize that this meeting was not, in fact, a date.

My companion wasted no time in telling me that a relationship, in any form, was not on the horizon. I smiled and nodded and on the inside, I felt, for lack of better terminology, friend-zoned. More significantly, I felt embarrassed. I came into this “meetup” with high expectations — after all, we’d tried for months to get together, and it didn’t end up at all as I’d hoped.

I sat there and tried to enjoy the rest of the time. I refrained from asking any embarrassing questions, including “Are we on a date?” or “Why do you feel like you’re not ready for a relationship?” I drank my coffee and ate my cookie and felt my cheeks grow increasingly red. I couldn’t wait to leave and from what I remember of the rest of the “date” (because I honestly don’t remember much) I spent it making awful jokes at my own expense.

Now that we know what not to do, here’s how you can learn from my mistakes:

  • Try to save the evening, but don’t try too hard. Think of trying to save yourself from embarrassment. Don’t overcompensate with loud, obnoxious jokes, but don’t stay silent either.
  • Don’t get ruffled, and remember that we’ve all been there. Talk to this person as though you’re speaking to a casual friend because, after all, that’s whom you’re now talking to.
  • At this point, you can be yourself. The “first impression” portion of the evening has ended. Maybe you can gain a friend out of this experience. That’s a more likely outcome if you just act as naturally as possible.
  • Don’t get your hopes up. If it’s made obvious from early on that it is very much not a date, don’t try to make it into one. It won’t help anyone, including you.
  • Let it go. Leave when it feels natural to you to leave. If you did drive together, don’t try too hard to make idle conversation in the car. If it feels right to you, great. If not, don’t. You can put up with the awkward silence for a half hour car ride. If you do gain a friend, great, but if you don’t, now is not the time to beat yourself up. Chalk it up to experience and try again tomorrow.

Remember, don’t let this one experience dictate your entire dating life! You won’t encounter this embarrassing misfortune every time you make a date with someone. The experience is something you’ll laugh about one day — I know I do.

The Ones With Relationship Advice: 10 Friends Episodes with Dating Tips for Millennials

Author: Brett Pucino, The Dating Game

Even though a good chunk of millennials were adolescents when Friends debuted in 1994, it’s a show that holds a special place in millennial hearts and minds. As someone who grew up within Manhattan’s sphere of influence, I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I fantasized that’s what Twentysomething life would be like.

As I rewatched the series as an actual Twentysomething, I realized that it’s packed with all types of advice for life. Here are ten episodes (one from each season) containing dating advice which millennials can relate to.

Season 1, Episode 7: The One With the Blackout
In this episode, Ross finally commits to telling Rachel how he feels about her. Unfortunately, thanks to a chance circumstance, Rachel meets and hooks up with an attractive foreigner named Paolo.

The advice? Don’t wait to express your feelings, or you might end up having to watch the person you have feelings for be with someone else.

Season 2, Episode 7: The One Where Ross Finds Out
This is the episode in which Rachel gets drunk and leaves a voicemail on Ross’ answering machine, confessing she still loves him. Ross eventually hears the message—and then faces the choice between getting back together with his ex or moving on with his new girlfriend, Julie.

The advice? There are exes, and then there is your Ross/Rachel ex. The ex who will always have a small space in your heart, whether you like it or not. If you just got out of that type of relationship, take a break from dating. There’s a good chance that your rebound relationship will burst into flames.

Season 3, Episode 12: The One With All the Jealousy
In this episode, Ross gets jealous because he believes one of Rachel’s new coworkers is flirting with her. He assumes something romantic may be going on between them.

The advice? The reality of today’s young professional is long hours. We typically spend more time with our work family than our real family. There are bound to be attractive people amongst your significant other’s coworkers. If you don’t trust your S/O with a particular colleague, this thinking may be a sign you are insecure in your relationship.

Season 4, Episode 7: The One Where Chandler Crosses the Line
Joey is dating a girl who Chandler falls in love with. He tries to deny it by avoiding her, but he eventually ends up kissing her.

The advice? The moment a girl or guy starts dating your best friend, your brain should consider that person a relative. Even if you’re highly attracted to said person, is it really worth a friendship?

Season 5, Episode 5: The One With the Kips
In this episode, Ross’ new wife Emily tells him she is willing to give their marriage a second shot, but with a catch: he can never talk to Rachel again.

The advice? This is a no-brainer if we’re talking about ditching a regular ex. It’s a different story when your ex is in your inner circle of friends. I think having to choose between your friends and your significant other is always a recipe for unhappiness.

Season 6, Episode 2: The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel
This episode is a doozy. There are two plots going on. One plot involves the fact that Ross has to tell Rachel they’re still married after their wild night in Vegas. The other revolves around Chandler moving in with Monica, and Rachel mistakenly assumes she will be living with them.

The advice? Well, there really is no advice on the Vegas situation. The moving scenario, on the other hand, is an inevitable thing if you live with roommates long enough. If I found myself in this situation, I’d be proactive and let my roommates know I’m looking for a place, and that I am amazingly happy for both of them.

Season 7, Episode 23: The One With Chandler and Monica’s Wedding
This iconic episode is the first of the two-part season seven finale. In this episode, Chandler freaks out in true Chandler fashion regarding marital commitment.

The advice? For millennials getting ready to tie the knot, why not have a talk about these types of feelings? It’s only natural that you both have them, and when you talk about them openly, they dissipate. Otherwise, they fester and can kill your relationship.

Season 8, Episode 16: The One Where Joey Tells Rachel
In this episode, Joey’s growing romantic feelings for Rachel are finally brought out into the open.

The advice? I’ve never been comfortable with this plot line. Probably because I am 100% against friend-hopping. My advice here is the same as I gave relating to The One Where Chandler Crosses The Line: is it really worth jeopardizing a friendship when there are millions of other fish in the sea?

Season 9, Episode 21: The One With the Fertility Test
Ross realizes he has a crush on Charlie, who happens to be Joey’s girlfriend.

The advice? Ross eventually dates Charlie after Joey realizes that Charlie has much more in common with Ross. This type of neat resolution rarely happens in the real world. Just avoid these types of situations.

Season 10, Episode 16: The One With the Going Away Party
I was going to write about the final episode, but it is still too much of an emotional roller coaster. In this penultimate episode, Rachel says goodbye to each of the friends at her going away party — except Ross. Ross is obviously upset, and he goes to tell Rachel how he feels.

The advice? If you have a significant other whom you’ve been on-and-off again with for a significant amount of time, there will come a point when you’re either all-in or all-out. Millennial couples have to deal with similar realities, such as job relocation opportunities, on a daily basis. It’s these moments that test our love for our significant others and ultimately show us whether or not we are meant for marriage.

What are your favorite relationship-based “Friends” episodes? Are they not on the list? Let’s discuss them in the comments below or on Twitter! (@BPucino)

Is Social Media the New Dating Website?

Author: Michelle Ioannou, The Dating Game

Welcome to 2016 where sliding into your DMs is becoming more and more common.

Whatever happened to the good ‘ole days of meeting someone at a bar? Well those good ‘ole days were replaced with the new good ‘ole days of creating a profile on a dating website. This practice has now become swiping right on someone you thought was attractive on a dating app. But is social media becoming the new Tinder?

I know for a fact I’m not the only female that has had guys (or girls) message them on social media—whether that platform be Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn—yes, LinkedIn, the professional social media; it has happened. In fact, The Knot shares stories of couples who met and fell in love on social media.

Now, is this a bad thing?

I personally don’t think so. Yes, “sliding into DMs” has a negative connotation, or you think of a negative action association with millennials (or worse—the generation after us)—but that doesn’t have to be. For the most part, or at least hopefully, social media channels showcase the true person. Social media is supposed to serve as an extension of the person—as a place for someone to share their voices, passions, love and experiences online. If this is so, then doesn’t it make sense that this would be a great place to look for dating?

Of course, there are many people who believe that just because there’s a screen in front of them that they can say or do whatever they want; in the forms of trolling the Internet, creating drama or unfortunately, catfishing someone. Be smart and be careful—and you should be able to tell the real from the fake.

Now, am I saying to delete Tinder? Or to deactivate your Match.com profile? Of course not. What I am saying is to be open-minded. If someone messages you on social media, don’t just laugh and shrug it off. Answer him or her, after looking at the profile and assuring that this person is a real human being, of course. Who knows— it could be the start of a beautiful relationship —whether that relationship be romantic, work related or just a friendship.

Social media may not take the place of dating websites or dating apps anytime soon, but it definitely can be considered a dating resource at the very least. Relationships have started on social networks in the past, so why can’t yours?

Long-Term Relationships and Millennials Can Be Used In the Same Sentence

Author: Chelsea Mulligan, The Dating Game

We all know the sweet story of how our grandparents fell in love as teenagers. In my case, my parents grew up as neighbors and also fell in love in their teenage years. Call it genetic or just a coincidence, but I too fell in love in high school. Our long night chats on AIM have turned into short text messages and quick tags on Instagram. Our daily routine used to be meeting up at each other’s locker and now it’s the main question that we all ask: what’s for dinner and who’s cooking?

It’s been almost eight years since we started dating, and I wish I could say it’s all been great and carefree, but that would be a lie. Being a millennial and in a serious relationship is no easy task. We have been through some difficult times. High school was filled with as much drama as expected. After high school, we were faced with him being older and going out to places where I couldn’t go for a couple of years. Things that seem so petty now were extremely difficult then.

There were instances where we thought “we might not be able to get through this one,” but we’ve always overcame our issues. We are both extremely hard-headed and competitive, which definitely comes into play when we argue, because one of us has to win the argument (usually me). We have learned the ins and outs of one another and developed an amazing relationship over the  years. For a lack of better words, we now just “get” each other.

Over the years, I have been asked numerous times by people, even strangers in town, if I ever feel like I’m missing out on the single life. My answer has always been, no. Sure, it’s funny to hear a comical/drunk story about my friends meeting guys and girls out, but I’ve never pictured myself in that element. I’ve learned a lot by being with my boyfriend throughout high school and college — and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It’s the best because I always have the following:

A Friend
Whenever I think in depth about our relationship, I realize that over the years, my boyfriend has become my best friend. He is the person I want to tell all my secrets to and call first thing in the morning to see what we can do for the day. If there ever comes a day that we part ways, I would (obviously) be devastated that I am out of a relationship, but I would be heartbroken to lose my best friend.

Someone To Share My Life With
Our memories together have become such a vital part of our relationship. They give us reasons to look back and laugh at what we’ve been through. We’ve gone to proms, graduations, family parties, vacations, concerts—practically everything together. I often find myself saying “we” instead of “I” when talking about all the things I’ve been through, because he’s been right by my side through it all.

My personality has given me the ability to laugh and talk with anyone, but it’s when I’m feeling sad that I realize how much I need him in life. Sharing the hard times in life with someone means everything. We’ve sat in hospitals many nights, cried in funeral homes, taken care of each other when we are not ourselves and just overall been a strong support system for one another. Even when we fight, he’s the shoulder I want to lean on, no matter how mad I can be at him in that moment.

Someone To Be Comfortable Around
“You look fine, can we just go?” It’s something I constantly hear from him when he’s hungry or we are trying to catch a movie. As I try to get my top eyeliner straight or try to make a presentable messy bun, I tend to get frustrated with him while he’s rushing me, but then I realize how lucky I am to have someone who doesn’t care what I look like when we go out. We could be watching Netflix for hours and he doesn’t mind taking me out right afterward.

I never have to put a smile on my face when he knows I’m not feeling well. I can express what’s hurting or bothering me. He’s all ears and tries his best to make me feel better, whether it means getting me a Payday candy bar or turning down the lights and letting me watch my favorite movie or a couple of episodes on HGTV. I don’t have to feel uncomfortable expressing how I feel and it’s truly a great thing in our relationship.

I can also be extremely dramatic. With him, I know I can turn up a Backstreet Boys song and belt my heart out or bounce in my seat when a good house song comes on. It’s okay that he necessarily isn’t laughing with me—and more just laughing at me. I can be myself, have fun with him and act out our favorite song together.

Whoever said “it’s about the little things in life” is 100% right. I have learned to appreciate so much in my relationship over the last seven and a half years. Never, ever would I have predicted to be with him in this day and age. I thought it would be a high school thing and there would be a time where we would go our separate ways to grow on our own. But fate has kept us growing together and I am able to confidently say that we are still going strong and probably will for many more years to come, if not forever.

My main piece of advice would be: put the phone awayI can promise you that there is nothing more important on Instagram and Facebook than spending quality time with the person you are dating. We don’t use our phones at dinner or while watching a movie. That quality time leads to great conversation and it is something I cherish.

I am enjoying this roller-coaster we are on. To fully answer the question as to why I am in a long term relationship and why I don’t have the urge to explore what else is out there? I am too happy to give up what I have. Why would I give up everything that I’ve built with him to meet all new people to learn about, when at the end of the day all I really want is what I already have? (Make sense?) I am with someone who lets me be myself day-in and day-out, who understands me in every way possible and who most importantly, loves me on my worst days and makes them better for me.