Speed Dating: Mastering The Six-Minute Date

So, you just broke up with your significant other, and realize that your life is far too complex to begin a long, drawn out search for another mate. No problem. Speed dating, the latest craze for North Americans, is here to help. Essentially, you get the opportunity to meet several people in a short period of time. So instead of spending a night with someone you dislike, or searching for that special someone in a crowded club, you get the chance to meet several potential partners all at once. Then, if they feel the same about you, a follow-up phone call results in a ‘real’ date. The cost averages from $20-$30 dollars, and usually includes appetizers and an opportunity to meet up to 12 other speed daters.

Since I am currently in a relationship, I asked my friend, Esmerelda, to try it out. She is currently single and thought it might be fun. After a quick web search, we found two sites for our city and after a brief comparison chose the one that seemed most promising. So read on, maybe this is the answer for you!

Esmerelda called the speed dating coordinator and booked the 30-45 age group evening. Being closer to the 40 range and thinking that a 30-year-old guy was just a little too young for her tastes, she inquired about the ages of those registered for that night. Fortunately everyone registered was closer to her age so she finished booking her appointment.

Anyhow, during the conversation the coordinator mentioned something about wearing what you would normally wear on a date—whatever the hell that was! She had not been on a date in awhile, so she decided to wear a ‘full metal jacket’ or power suit; a little formal but as date protection goes, well suited (pun intended)!

As she entered the restaurant, a funky art deco place, she noticed a woman wearing an impossible combination of a all black lacy lingerie vest that revealed her matching bra and a huge diamond ring on her finger—proof that she must be the facilitator and that she knows how to get a date. She gave Esmerelda some little cards with each speed-daters information clipped together with a ‘bingo’ card of experiences, places, sports, etc. This is the party game icebreaker, where speed daters are supposed to mingle with the other people and ask them which things they have done until someone gets a bingo. She never heard anyone yell out bingo, but had several unlikely conversations with both men and women about whether they had para-sailed, swam with dolphins, skinny dipped, or the more mundane, who drove a red car. After a few minutes of this, Esmerelda realized she was in for a long night and started drinking.

The facilitator then asked everyone to sit at the table that corresponded to the number they were given upon entering. Esmerelda sat down at table number 8 (of 10) with its intimate little tea light casting a glow over her first speed dater. She would have 6 minutes to get to know this person, and hopefully make some kind of connection. Realizing the speed daters would need some conversational assistance, handy lists of questions are provided by the facilitators. Esmerelda’s first one happened to be “What is your favorite article of clothing?” She felt the questions were too obtuse, so discarded them in hopes of meeting someone interesting. One of the difficulties is that you are not allowed to ask anyone where they work or what they do, because of concerns that it might identify them and then lead to some scary stalking incident or something worse. So when you can’t really talk to someone about what they spend half their day doing, that basically leaves; why are you here? Have you done this before? Have you always lived in this city? What activities/sports do you like to do outside of work? And have you traveled anywhere?

Every 6 minutes the facilitator walked around shaking reindeer bells, very seasonal of her and a reminder to all of the women to get up and move to the next highest number table. Somehow, during the brief move from one table to the other, you are supposed to circle one of the options beside the man’s name you just sat with; yes, no or the dreaded: friendship. Esmerelda, not wanting to hurt too many feelings, circled friendship for everyone except the three definite no’s. If your partner circles the same response beside your name, then the facilitator will either call or email you the next day with your matches, and then exchange your contact info. If, as in Esmerelda’s case, the only one who responds to your ‘overtures’ of friendship is a member of the same sex, then the facilitator can arrange for the two of you to get together as friends. Esmerelda called and left her only suitor, Bonnie, a message saying that while she did not want to date her, maybe they could go out sometime.

Anyhow, the whole event took Esmerelda about 2 hours, and she found it somewhat awkward trying to determine whether she would want to date someone based on 6 uncomfortable minutes together. In reality, most of them were not someone she was even remotely interested in having a 6-minute conversation with. Esmerelda does recommend that your attitude walking in is a major determining factor of your potential success. She forced herself to get out there, but was not really emotionally ready to be seriously looking for a new boyfriend. However, she saw several people that seemed to hit it off really well, and most of the speed daters stayed after the session ended to have a few drinks.

And Bonnie, Esmerelda’s potential friend, said she connected with the first guy she did 6 minutes with. But, how awkward if she thought they really connected and he checked off ‘no’ to dating her; a system similar to, “The Fifth Wheel” or “Survivor.” Oh well, risk or rejection is inherent in all dating. But so is the hope of meeting that perfect someone.

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