Thought Leadership

Dating in the dark

By Colin Walls

Sometimes I have an idea for a product, technology or business, which I think is really compelling, but is outside of my area of expertise to progress. In some cases, the idea is fanciful and just makes for a good conversation topic; others actually have potential. The other day, inspiration hit me. I have a killer idea, but no real means to implement it. So, if you want to pick it up, go ahead. If you make a fortune, please remember that you heard it here first …

I have a friend, whom I will just call “W”, who, after many years of marriage, at the age of 60, finds himself single. Although he can appreciate that this can have its advantages, he would like someone with whom to share his life. So, how do you meet someone? He does not have a wide social life, so running into potential partners randomly seemed unlikely, so he took the obvious path: online dating.

I was enthusiastic about this approach, having found online dating was ideal for myself and know quite a few other people, who have found happiness in this way. W got himself set up with a profile etc. and started getting in touch with single women in the area. He did not stop there; he extended his range to get in touch with possible partners quite some distance away. However, he is not feeling so enthusiastic. He constantly finds that his messages go unanswered. He gets into a dialog with someone and they just disappear. He has been on a number of dates, but somehow they just do not seem to work out.

I was surprised, so we had a long discussion about his approach. He would not let me see his profile, but, when he told me how he selected women to contact, I began to feel that I knew what the problem was. I asked W what his #1 consideration was when looking at someone’s profile; what would be the key factor to make him read on and possibly get in touch? His answer was simple: “looks”. He said that it was vital that he was physically attracted to someone, so he needed to get that out of the way first

I proposed two opposing arguments, which suggested he was approaching it wrong. First, what can you really tell from the little snaps on people’s online profiles? They might make someone look much better or much worse than they really are. In fact, if I had paid much attention to her picture, I would never have met my wife. My second point was that looks are not everything and going by first impressions is often foolish. If you get along really well with someone, the attraction may come later [and probably be more enduring]. W was unconvinced, but I will keep working on him …


This discussion gave me an idea. I was pondering the importance of visual information to human beings generally and how it can be a distraction. It brought to mind the well-known “blind restaurants”. These are establishments where you choose from the menu first, then you are led into the dining room, which is in total darkness. Your food is then served to you by blind servers. The theory is that, without the visual cues, your experience of the food comes totally from taste and texture and, hence, you appreciate it more fully. I have not tried one of these places, but I am interested in so doing.

I wondered whether this idea could be applied to dating. The service that I had in mind [“Dating In The Dark”] would provide an environment where a couple’s first date [and maybe even subsequent ones] takes place in a pitch black room. They each get a strong feeling for the “presence” and character of the other, without the visual distractions. I think that it might just work …

When I had this blog post blocked out in my brain, before I did any writing, I did a little research. It seems that “Dating In The Dark” is the name of a TV a reality show, which is popular in various countries, like Australia and Holland. In these shows, couples are put into a pich dark house to see what develops, while the TV audience can watch them with infra-red cameras. It is not quite the same as my idea, but conceptually it is along the same lines.

If you would like to set up this venture or have any good advice for W [or are even a woman looking for a 60 year old man], do email me.

Leave a Reply

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at