Prince Harry and Meghan Markle might be hurtling towards a fairytale wedding thanks to a blind date in 2016. But for many, the very idea of being set up by a mate is enough to bring them out in hives.
That said, while there are plenty of blind date horror stories floating around, that’s not to say they can’t end in happiness. (Or at the very least, amicably.)
Here, dating pros reveal their dos and don’ts to help you bag yourself a second, not-so-blind date.
Do trust your friend
The thought of placing your love life in your best mate’s hands might be nerve-racking, but dating coach and expert James Preece said it could actually work wonders for your love life.
“Your friend probably knows you better than you even know yourself,” he said. “They’ll understand the type of person you need to make you happy rather than the ones you think you want. They’ve watched you in your previous relationships and have seen you at your best as well as your worst.”
Do your research
The benefit of having a friend set you up is that you can get some key intelligence about your date before you meet (without having to trawl through Facebook at the risk of accidentally liking something from 2015).
Tania O’Donnell, author of Slow Dating: A Technophobe’s Quest for Love Offline, said: “Ask the person setting you up what the other person is like and if there are any stories they can tell you about him or her. This will provide you with an icebreaker conversation.”
Do pick an informal place
Choosing a chilled out setting for your blind date can be very beneficial and can take some of the pressure off, as it allows you to leave if things go terribly.
Tania explained: “Pick an informal place such as a pub or coffee shop and only meet for drinks. If you get along well, you can always extend it to dinner, but if it isn’t going well, you’re only committed to a couple of drinks and can make the excuse that you have a supper booked with a friend in order to leave.”
Dating expert Madeleine Mason, from PassionSmiths, added that first dates should always be a short, 60 to 90-minute “chemistry check” to help you get a feel for whether you’d go on a second date or not.
Do make an effort
Tania is a firm believer that people should take care over their outfit, the venue and plans when on a blind date. After all, if everything goes well you don’t want the story of how you met to be clouded by the fact you wore tracksuit bottoms.
“Make an effort with your appearance,” she said. “It doesn’t come across as desperate or trying too hard - it is a common courtesy to look and smell nice on a special occasion.
“To do less makes it seem as though you’re not that bothered and, while some pick-up artists might think this is an appropriate impression to give, it doesn’t really bode well for any resulting relationship.”
Do keep an open mind
For Madeleine Mason, keeping an open mind and having low expectations of your date is the best way to minimise disappointment. She said: “Look for the things that your matchmaker saw as compatible features and have the mindset of someone who intends on having a good time.”
She also advises to focus on your date, rather than yourself: “Think of things to do to make your date feel comfortable: smile, look them in the eye when talking, ask about their lives, be curious about who they are.
“Make your date feel good and they are likely to like you.”
Do stay safe
Couples counsellor Michael Kallenbach said safety is paramount when going on a blind date, regardless of whether your friend says they’re suitable.
“Most blind dates are in a public place so they are quite safe,” he said. “But I think it’s essential to tell a close friend or relative of yours that you’re going on the date and where the venue is, just to make sure that someone knows where you are or have been.”
Madeleine added that meeting in the daytime, or at least while it’s light outside, is also best for a first meet-up.
Don’t be rude
It goes without saying that you should probably keep away from your phone while you’re on a date. (“Don’t take it out at all - not even in the loo!” said Tania.)
If you head to a bar or pub - or any venue where alcohol is involved - you should try to limit your drinking so you don’t end up legless at the end of it.
“Dutch courage is one thing,” Tania said. “But being blind drunk is never a good look.”
Don’t talk about exes
All dating experts agree that talking about previous relationships is a major no-no on a first date, whether you’re going in blind or not.
James added: “Whatever you talk about, keep it positive and light. Stay away from topics like Brexit, bad weather or anything stressful.
“Instead, find out what their hopes and dreams are and what makes them happy. If you do, they’ll associate these feelings with you.” Aww.
Don’t be mean
If the date does end with disappointment, try not to take it out on the person you’re sat there with.
Michael explained: “It’s not necessary to be brutally honest with the other person if you have no intention of seeing him/her again. Just say how much you enjoyed the opportunity to get to know each other and say something vague like, ‘I’m sure we’ll be in touch’.”
James added: “Remember, everything you do and say will be reported back to your friend. Make sure you’ve treated the match with respect, even if you don’t want to see them again. Otherwise your friend might never bother to help again.”