(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Male 1: Oh Dad, I have a proposal for you. Seems there’s a woman in Roz’s building that would like to go out with you. Roz says that she has a wonderful personality.
Male 2: I guess that means I’m the pretty one.
Dr. Kenner: Do you dare go on a blind date? Your parents fix you up or a friend fixes you up or just a stranger fixes you up or you meet someone on the internet and you don’t know the person. What is it like to go on a blind date? What are you up against if you’re in the dating world? With me today is Dr. Don Kiefer. He’s a clinical psychologist in the psychiatry department at Rhode Island Hospital. He’s also a department chair at the New England Institute of Technology and he’s had his own matchmaking service, which is fabulous for a psychologist. And he’s given workshops on becoming your own dating coach. Welcome Dr. Don Kiefer.
Dr. Kiefer: Thank you.
Dr. Kenner: So good to have you on the show again. When I think about blind dates, I went on many when I was I guess dating, and tell me a little bit about them. What difficulties do you run into or heard from your matchmaking services or your own personal experience?
Dr. Kiefer: I have a personal bias in favor of blind dates. It’s one of my favorite mechanisms and partly because it’s how I met my wife. I’ve been married now for 19 years and what happened was I talk a lot in workshops about the importance of expanding your social network, that when you’re at a point where you want to meet somebody, you want to look around for ways of doing that. I was at a point in my life that I decided I needed to do that and so I sort of was killing a few birds with one stone. I wanted to reduce my expenses, because I wanted to invest some money in a business, and I just decided I was going to move into a group house. I figured this would be a good way, not only of reducing my expenses, but of meeting new people. It’s exactly what happened. I was only there for a few weeks and one of my roommates had a girlfriend who was looking to date and she had met me and she thought that I might be good for her girlfriend and one thing led to another and I went out and pretty much the rest is history. I really obviously, it gives me a special place in my heart for blind dates, but just in general, I think it’s a wonderful mechanism. One of the main reasons is, you’re starting off with a degree of credibility in terms of the source of the match. Because typically, you’re going to be fixed up with people who like you, who know you to some degree, and who know the other person. They’re not somebody that’s out, in the case of for instance a dating service who has an agenda of making the match so they can take some money from you, there’s no objective like that. These are people that want to have other people connect. So that’s one of the nice things about blind dates.
Dr. Kenner: These are when friends set you up, or a family member sets you up on a blind date. They’re not going to set you up with a rotten person.
Dr. Kiefer: No, because they know you’re going to tell them about it. They’ll hear from you.
Dr. Kenner: They’re going to pay for it.
Dr. Kiefer: Exactly. So, from that point of view, it’s a nice way to start. One of the things I caution people though, if you’re up for it, what I tell people is you need to let your network of friends and relatives know. You need to let them know that you are more than happy to be fixed up, because if you don’t say anything, some people would be embarrassed or hesitant to approach you about it. They might think that you’re giving them that a message of “I pity you or you should be dating” or that kind of thing, so if I’m interested in blind dating, I really encourage people, I tell people to go out and just say to people, no big deal, “By the way, I’m up for doing some dating right now, so if you run into anybody, let me know. I’d be happy to go out with them.”
Dr. Kenner: I’ll get callers who call the show or send me letters and emails that are saying, “My friend, what does she think I am, pathetic? I haven’t dated in three months and now she wants to fix me up and she thinks I’m pathetic. What am I, a loser?”
Dr. Kiefer: There is that interpretation there. It’s not at all, nothing to do with being a loser. It has to do with the fact of facing the reality of where we are in society, it is very different from 50 years ago where people used to hang out on the porch steps and lazily hang out with the sunburn, walking around, and everybody knew everybody and everybody stayed in the same town for 15-20 years, etc., where there were chances for connections to happen. It’s not that way anymore. People are switching jobs and moving every two or three or four years. It’s a different world.
Dr. Kenner: I met my husband on a blind date.
Dr. Kiefer: You did? Good for you.
Dr. Kenner: I had broken up with a boyfriend or he had broken up with me. It’s wonderful after so many years, decades, you don’t remember who broke up with whom, even though it feels so poignant at the time, and my mother was desperate. She was afraid she’d have me on her hands for a long time, so she called all her friends and networked, instead of me doing the networking which would have been great. Oh, Ellen is available, please find her someone so she’s not here with me! She set me up on several dates and then I met my husband and I wanted to marry him the first night. We got married within nine months, so I loved blind dates. My husband loved them. He went on many blind dates because he felt like you came in on an equal platform. It wasn’t one person chasing the other. And it was more of a feeling like, well, you both are evaluating each other, but in a nice way.
Dr. Kiefer: There’s an alternative by the way that some people should think about. If they don’t like the idea of being one-on-one with this fix-up, that they feel like there’s too much pressure, I call what I call the mock blind date, that you can propose to your friends. If someone approaches you and says, “I have someone I’d like for you to meet,” you could say to them, “I really don’t want to be sitting across on a table doing an interview thing,” which is how some people unfortunately look at the first date. It doesn’t have to be looked at that way, but that’s how some people look at it. I say, “Just suggest that they have a small gathering,” and to invite the other person there, so that it’s not so obvious. That it just because whether a picnic or cocktail party, and then it can happen more naturally.
Dr. Kenner: What do you want to get to on the blind date? You said the first date is always to get to the second date, but the second date, what are the key, the essence you want to get to in terms of using that time well?
Dr. Kiefer: First of all, I often tell people the second date should really be very different from the first date. It should be in a different setting. First dates are typically sitting at a table, over a cup of coffee or something. I think the second date should be more active. It should be with maybe, if the first was the nighttime, do it in the daytime, maybe informal clothing, just things to loosen things up. Things that the main point of the date is not this heavy-duty interview, but it’s really just to spend some time with the person.
Dr. Kenner: So they’re going on a picnic or to the beach?
Dr. Kiefer: Museum, not a movie because movies –
Dr. Kenner: Depressing.
Dr. Kiefer: If the movie is bad. But you’re not talking for like two hours. I mean, it is nice to at the end, you get to talk about your respective feelings of the movie, but that might go kind of flat after a while. I dissuade movies as a second date. But something active. Going to a fair, a county fair, going for a drive, something where you can maybe walk around. Being physically active relaxes people.
Dr. Kenner: Just experiencing that other person, what it would be like to be with that person, rather than a detailed interview.
Dr. Kiefer: And just see how the conversation flows. People will just naturally, they often – unless they’re super guarded – they’ll start revealing things and things that are important to you, you want to probe more quickly than others, basically. You just have to play it by ear. You don’t want to come on too strong in the second date, that’s for sure. People will go, “Oh my God, what’s going on here? It’s an inquisition.”
Dr. Kenner: So you want to ask yourself – I know we’re winding down on time – but the essence. What is it that I want to know about this person? You don’t have to give yourself a whole laundry list, just one or two questions. Then you spend your whole afternoon finding that out.
Dr. Kiefer: Exactly.
Dr. Kenner: Thank you so much for joining us. This is Dr. Don Kiefer. Thank you.
Dr. Kiefer: You’re welcome. Bye-bye.