The Dating Game: Intrepid Pair Try Techniques Old and New in Search for Love

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This much we can all agree on: Facing the perils of dating isn't always fun. In fact, it's so not-always-fun that some singles stop doing it altogether.

With this in mind, two reporters decided to take the New York City dating scene by storm and venture out on three dating experiences — blind dating, relatively newfangled speed dating and the modern staple of Internet dating — to see if they might find Mr. or Ms. Right.

In part one of this three-part series, you meet Cassie, meet Michael and read their accounts of their attempts at blind dating. Click back here on Wednesday and Thursday to read about their speed dates and Internet dates.

Meet Cassie

Cassie Carothers is a 26-year-old journalist who grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a small town outside Cleveland. At 5-foot-5, Cassie has bright red hair (not from a bottle), blue eyes and fair skin — unless it's the summer, in which case she's usually sunburned, with a smattering of freckles.

Cassie's looking for someone who's easygoing and has a sense of humor — someone who's very comfortable in his own skin, and who is honest. He must be smart, open-minded and able to laugh at himself. And she'd be lying if she said looks weren't important — she tends to go for tall, lanky types.

Meet Michael

Michael De Dora Jr. is a 23-year-old who grew up on Long Island, N.Y., went to college in Albany, N.Y., and now resides on the Upper East Side of New York City.

He stands at 6-feet tall with an athletic build and dark features, and has been known to spend days at a time traveling through the Northeastern United States to see his favorite band, Pearl Jam.

Michael is looking for a gal who's real, hip, intelligent and yes, good-looking.

First Date: Is Love Really Blind?

Blind dating comes with a lot of risks. While many romances are formed off first instinct when initially meeting someone, in a blind date, two parties agree to spend a portion of time together without having any clue if they will hit it off.

With an Internet date, if it goes terribly, each party can brush off the other without any guilt whatsoever. But with blind dates, in which a mutual friend usually sets up two people, you not only have to worry about offending the date, but also the person who arranged the date.

Guaranteed, the next time you see the date arranger, you are going to have to give a full report of the date. And if this person knows you at all, they will be able to tell if you are lying.

With this in mind, Cassie and Michael let their colleagues set them up on their first-ever blind dates.

Cassie's Blind Date

I have to confess, I didn't go in to my blind date completely "blind." As soon as my co-worker forwarded me Andy's e-mail address, I looked him up on before I committed to the date.

At 26, this was my first blind date, and I didn't feel like taking too much of a risk. And I was a bit surprised at what I saw on MySpace: pictures of Andy with a woman and a baby and several references to their happy family.

"Blair, is this guy married? I'm not going on a date with a married guy!" I messaged her.

I could handle a guy with a girlfriend. But a guy with a wife and child? No way.

Blair swore the page was built as a joke, and that he was very single. With her assurances in mind, I wrote him an e-mail asking if he'd like to have dinner with me the following week.

Before the date, friends and co-workers applauded my bravery for subjecting myself to the perils of a blind date, all in the name of journalism. And while I relished in their lauding, I really didn't think it was that big of a deal. I can talk to a wall for at least 45 minutes; sitting with a real live human for a few hours would be a piece of cake.

We decided to meet at a bar around the corner from the restaurant we picked on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

We then took turns asking the standard rounds of questions: where are you from (him: Georgia, me: Ohio), what do you do (him: paper pusher by day, comedian by night, me: news editor for, where do you live (him: Brooklyn, me: Manhattan), etc.

We then went down the street to Schiller's Liquor Bar, a somewhat hip but casual bistro where he had made reservations for dinner. Nestled tightly into our table, easy conversation continued as we had our meals (him: calamari to start and tuna for dinner, me: avocado to start and eggplant penne for dinner).

As a young Republican turned Democrat, Andy was very curious about my job at FOX News, and we talked a lot about media and politics. We sailed through a carafe of good wine and before we knew it, dinner was over.

Although it was a perfectly logical time to end the date, it was still almost light out, and it was a beautiful night in the city. When he invited me to nearby rooftop birthday party, I decided I couldn't pass up a chance to see New York's beautiful skyline lit up on an early summer night.

Now, I do realize that what I was doing was almost social suicide. I was going with someone who, until two hours prior, was a complete stranger to a party where all of his friends would be in attendance and I would know no one, save the recently acquainted stranger.

This is where being able to talk to a wall for 45 minutes comes in handy — I was looking forward to the challenge of facing a party full of strangers and conquering them one conversation at a time.

Of course, his friends couldn't have been nicer, and almost all of them knew he was on a blind date with me. As he introduced me around, I stood there with a smile as people lowered their voices, looked at him and said a bit awkwardly, "Is this the blind date?"

After an hour or so of running around the party, I decided it was coming close to my curfew, and I found my date. He walked me down to the foyer of the building and we said our goodbyes. Because I only live four blocks away from the party, I thought it was OK that he didn't walk me home.

I left relieved that my first blind date was not only not a total disaster, but was actually a good time. However, as of press time, there has yet to be a second date.

Michael's Blind Date

This was the first blind date of my very short dating career.

I've always said to myself that I'd never blind date because I couldn't handle not seeing and meeting the girl before going out with her. Not only do you decide any type of physical attraction in the first few minutes of meeting someone, but you can also tell some pretty basic stuff. Is she artificial? Down to earth? Wears load of makeup? Likes to be the center of attention? This is all pretty important stuff, folks.

One thing that I've noticed on dates I've gone on recently is how nervous I get. If I ask out a girl, it's because I like her and I want to impress her. Whether or not I get a second date, I feel after that first date, "Wow, I really messed that one up — way to go, Michael." A person telling you to be yourself and act cool only goes so far. They're not on the date for you.

And seeing as I had never gone on a blind date, I was hoping all of this would be different.

I was hooked up with Lara through a co-worker and spoke with her via e-mails. We exchanged maybe 10 over the course of about two weeks in trying to set up a time and place to get together. I got a feeling she was very nice, very friendly and somewhat energetic, which made me more comfortable.

Girls I've dated before were for the most part — I'll be nice and say unenergetic.

We met in a Manhattan neighborhood that I haven't spent much time in on a Thursday evening and walked over to a restaurant she recommended upon our meeting. It was a sort of higher-class, dressier "don't say anything too loud here" Mexican place, which I can't say matches my personality, even though I picked it from the choices she gave me. It was also packed and there was a wait.

So we agreed to leave, and from among her other choices — remember, I wasn't as familiar with the neighborhood as she was so I asked for her opinions — I picked a grill named Earl's. This place was more of a hardwood floors, hanging with friends and having fun atmosphere. I could have yelled in here and I don't think there would have been a problem. I felt much more comfortable.

Lara had mentioned when we met up that the Mexican place had margaritas on sale that were awesome. So when the waitress asked me what I wanted to drink, I figured I'd kick things off for the both of us and order a margarita — which I'd never had before because to be honest, I don't like hard liquor.

But my date proceeded to order ... a Bud Light! I certainly would have gone with a beer if I didn't think she wanted margaritas. Oh well.

The first thing I really noticed about this date was my lack of inhibitions. Remember how I said, "I know I like the girl a lot" going into previous dates? Well, this was different. I had no clue going into this date if I would like the girl or not. So why not let it all out? I didn't even know if I was gunning to impress her. Let me tell you, this is quite a comfort.

That primarily made it completely different than any date I'd ever been on — in a good way.

The other thing I really noticed was how big of a difference it was going to a place like Earl's. I can't tell you how much more comfortable I was in that setting as compared to other places. I think I acted much more normal considering the atmosphere. I'll never again settle for a place just because it's "trendy" or I feel it may impress the woman. If I'm not comfortable, I'm not going to have fun. Period.

Now, for the big question: Will I see her again?

Unfortunately, we had a rather large age difference. And I'm unfortunately a little busy to get into anything serious. So, maybe I will see her again. But I don't think it will be in a romantic capacity.

But it was nice to go out with a girl with a little fire to her. For me it meant a more-than-two-hour enjoyable date.

Click here on Wednesday to read about Cassie and Michael's speed dates.