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How blind dates and setups can make you more confident in finding 'The One'

By BEA TRINIDAD, The Philippine STAR Published Feb 11, 2022 5:00 am

At 18, I agreed to be set up by my uncle on a blind date. I was in my fourth year of high school, anxious about finding a ball date. The truth is I was never good at finding dates for our school’s soirées.

So my uncle volunteered to find me a dashing date. He found a young model that looked the part. But the two of us could not be farther from each other’s worlds.

In this case, opposites did not attract. I still had my baby fat while he had chiseled abs. I was a carnivore, and he was a vegetarian. I loved the city lights. He loved to surf.

We were incompatible, and I was horrified about the very idea of being set up again on a blind date. Or to spend a few more hours with this model pretending I could eat pumpkin soup for dinner.

Since then, I’ve never reconsidered blind dates as a way of meeting people. That is, until 2022 rolled in with a new variant: Omicron.

Recently, a friend sent me this photo of a T-shirt that said, “7 Billion People In The World And Still No Date.” Of course, I laughed, but then I started to wonder: if not the dating apps or Zoom rooms, where else can single people meet “The One”?

This joke between my friend and I brought back the memory of that blind date. What went wrong? And is there hope in being “set up”?

Vanessa Antonio is the founder of Singles Events Manila, ABS-CBN digital show host and certified matchmaker by the Matchmaking Institute, NYC. Being single was a pain point when she was 24, which is why she committed to study the science of dating.

So I interviewed Vanessa Antonio, “Coach Vee,” a certified matchmaker and dating coach who believes that there is a science to dating; also I talked to two couples that found love after being set up. One couple met pre-pandemic, while the other met in the middle of the pandemic. I wanted to figure out why my encounter had been painfully awkward and how to avoid such errors.

Coach Vee reminded me that the feeling of “cringe” was normal. But, she said, “Dating is a numbers game. Just treat life as an experiment. The more you date, the better you become as a dater.”

The reason why so many people are hesitant to be set up, she says, is that “there is the fear of the unknown. We want to control every movement and every result. The fear is not the fear of the blind date; the fear is to be set up with the wrong person and to waste your time.”

Annalisa and Rhys, owe their successful setup to a coworker and perfect timing

It was an open mind because you’ll never know what’s in store for you. It also takes patience, patience, and lots more patience. As well as understanding.

Annalisa, in her 30s, was dealing precisely with the unknown in 2008. Facebook had just started in 2006, and social media stalking wasn’t as popular as it is today.

She has been in a series of relationships since she was 16. Finally, she wanted to enjoy being single. So she texted her family and friends about her newfound status.

Annalisa Margarita Mariano and Rhys Diaz, a 40-something couple met through her co-worker. She is a chef instructor and professor, while he works at a BPO.

One male coworker asked her if she wanted to go on a blind date with his schoolmate. He said, “Mabait siya.” But, she recalled, “By then, I had a series of dates, about four. Of course, may mga palpak at may sobrang palpak.”

So when Annalisa and Rhys met in Katipunan for drinks, she was surprised that there was a connection. Conversation flew. And as she said, “If it was multiple choice, he was the best answer.” Rhys added, “I felt excited and nervous at the same time. I was not used to it (being set up), but luckily I bit the bait.”

Today, they have been married for 10 years, with one son. I asked them what worked. Annalisa said, “I met him at 31. He proposed agad agad. I was engaged twice before. If it’s the right time, the right guy, the automatic answer would be yes. I was looking forward to building a home and having a child. So it was the right timing.” For Rhys, “It was an open mind because you’ll never know what’s in store for you. It also takes patience, patience, and lots more patience. As well as understanding.”

Sam and Mickey met through Craigslist’s neighbor and bonded over climbing

I’m not saying we’re 100 percent compatible, but we communicate so well. There’s never ill feelings after the fact. It’s always living in the moment. Also, we’re a team.

Like Annalisa, Sam had just gone through a breakup. It was right before her birthday. It was also in the middle of the pandemic: November 2020. There was no chance of meeting anyone new. Unlike Annalisa, Sam was disinterested in meeting men.

Sam’s neighbor dropped by her place to cheer her up and coincidentally told her that she should meet her roommate, Mickey, as she knew they would hit it off — looking at Sam’s apartment, where she had a Star Wars poster near the TV and an evident love for climbing. Mickey also spent some time in Japan, and Sam loved anime.

Sam Castro and Mickey Sigler, a 30-something couple based in the US, met through her Craigslist neighbor. She is a material engineer and he is a data scientist.

Sam was hesitant. But after one chance meeting in the neighbor’s apartment, Sam found herself a new climbing partner in Mickey. After one climb together, Mickey asked Sam out on an actual date.

They spent time getting to know each other from there, as he lived only five doors down. They went on Korean BBQ dinner dates and climbing activities. He beamed, “The highlight of the pandemic was probably meeting her. I really want to marry Sam.”

Their love of climbing has brought them closer in a way that high-stress situations can for some couples. Sam said, “When we’re out doing what we do. I have to be very clear if I’m not comfortable, like labas ang pride.” Mickey added, “I’ll forever be patient with Sam. It obviously gets exacerbated in climbing.”

When I asked them what makes their relationship work, he said, “I think it’s a perfect relationship. And I know people say no relationship is perfect. I’m not saying we’re 100 percent compatible, but we communicate so well.” Sam added, “There’s never ill feelings after the fact. It’s always living in the moment. Also, we’re a team.”

* * *

Looking back at that blind date long ago, I have to admit, I was probably a horrible date: insecure, naïve… and hungry.

About two years ago, I turned 30 in the same month. And at my birthday party, my uncle revealed that I hadn’t exactly gone on a “blind date” with that model. Instead, he had paid the model to escort me to my ball. So, there was never really a chance for real feelings to bloom.

You might be wondering, how did the date end? He ended up kissing a friend of mine. After that, I passed by a McDonald’s drive-thru and went home.

So, here’s advice from a woman who has experienced enough awkward dating moments. First, state your intention to date and be set up by your family, friends, colleagues, or even a professional matchmaker. But then, don’t overthink it.

Enjoy the process. “The One” is possible after you’ve gone through a series of bad dates, okay dates, and maybe there will be one that stands out. It may happen on the fifth date or the 100th. It’s all about getting comfortable with the unknown and finding your inner confidence to put yourself out there.