| June 7, 2012

Last week, I went on a blind date — two, actually. As a newbie to the blind dating scene, I was wary for three reasons. First, they’re awkward. Second, when did my love life become a charity case? And third, I like to browse before I buy. Despite these insecurities, I agreed to go. However, there was no way I was going in unprepared.

I talked to family, co-workers and friends, and I read every online article I could find about the best ways to “blind date.” After sorting through it all and surviving both encounters, here’s what I learned about how to make it (or fake it) on a blind date:

1. Do your research. Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, LinkedIn, Match.com — a modern-day woman knows it’s not stalking. Peruse his online profile and see if you have any friends in common. If you do, get the dirt (better to know now, right?). If your date’s Facebook privacy settings rival those of the CIA, a simple Google search can yield deeply personal information (his college sports records, a company achievement, an embarrassing high school photo); use it to your advantage.

2. Confront the awkwardness. If your Internet research came up short and you’re left going on an old-fashioned date blind, confront the situation head on. Instead of playing “Guess Who?” at the bar, text him an hour before saying, “So, how am I going to know who you are?” You know he’s wondering the same thing, and by confronting the situation, he’ll see that you're confident and able to laugh at this ridiculously awkward situation (making you instantly more attractive).

3. Judge a book by its cover. In most situations, I advocate giving your date a chance, but if you spot him from across the room and want to run for hills, send him a text saying, “Sorry, I’m tied up at work and can’t make it tonight.” If he has any idea how women work, he’ll get the hint and "lose your number." If he continues to call, applaud yourself for avoiding a stage five clinger.

4. Order a drink. Water, wine, vodka, beer, whatever you desire. Even if you just met the man of your dreams, the first few minutes of your date ARE going to be awkward. When women get nervous, we fiddle with our hair, clothes, makeup, table napkins ... whatever. Use some liquid courage to control this erratic behavior.

5. Embrace the menu as your best friend. On a blind date, you can talk to your menu, talk about it, or use it to fan the beads of sweat forming on your upper lip ... use it.

6. Be yourself. My most clichéd piece of advice is also the most important: Once you’ve settled in and gotten over the initial shock of the blind date, relax and be yourself. If you’re nervous, let him carry the conversation; just gracefully listen and respond. If there’s an awkward moment when no one’s talking, your date’s going to feel responsible because men often think they have to dominate everything. (If your relationship continues, we hope you'll inform him otherwise.)

7. Decide on dessert and be gracious. If your date goes well, order dessert. It will show him that you’ve had a good time and don’t want the date to end. If it doesn’t, talk about your busy day tomorrow; it will politely let him know the night is over. However the date goes, make sure to thank him for taking you out and paying for your drinks or dinner — chivalry is still in style.

8. Trust your gut. By the end of the night, you should have a good sense of how the date went. If you want to see him again, tell him you had a great time and let him know you’re around this weekend. If the two of you hit it off, he'll call and be reading this before you know it. If he doesn’t, don’t fret — blind dating isn’t as scary as it seems. Try and try again.