A quick search online for ‘speed dating’ and one might be surprised at the number of results returned. Multiple sites in almost every city boast the ability to set you up with ‘the one’ – or at least help you narrow down your search quickly.
To some, speed dating might sound like a desperate way to get a date. But for busy professionals, social individuals or anyone who has exhausted their options for meeting new people, speed dating has become the perfect way to find the perfect mate.
Dating in the traditional sense can be tough. Knowing where to look or who to approach can really slow down your love life. But speed dating offers an easy alternative to meeting a variety of singles, all in one place and in your preferred demographic.
“If you were coming out to one of our events,” explains Neha Wadhwa, event and marketing manager for FastLife, “you'd meet about 10 to 12 [people] within an age group of your preference. We'll set up the venue so that there's a cozy booth or a table with two chairs across from each other and the ladies are seated on one side and the men are seated on the other and they rotate every eight minutes.”
While certain details like the number of singles or the length of the dates might differ depending on the organizers, most speed dating events work in a similar way. At the end of the event, participants select who they'd like to see again. If there is mutual interest, organizers forward the attendees' contact information so that the matched parties can connect after the event and hopefully get that elusive second date.
Other than the obvious advantage of meeting more than one person at a time, the benefits of speed dating are attracting more and more singles to give it a try. Wadhwa compares it to online dating, which was once considered untraditional but is now an accepted and highly successful way to meet your match.
“You can meet someone behind the computer screen and have great conversation with them and then when you meet them, there's no spark,” she says. “The best thing about speed dating is that you can feel instant chemistry.”
This style of dating, which originated in 1998, allows you to meet and mingle with a large number of new people all in one night. And while it may seem like a lot of pressure, on the contrary, the lack of pressure is perhaps one of the biggest advantages. There's no pressure to lock eyes with a handsome man across the room and wonder if he's single. There's no pick up lines or unwanted advances and personal topics are not taboo; they're encouraged.
“Sometimes you are so concerned about being attracted to someone that you may not even speak to them if you saw them elsewhere. But now that they're in front of you, you don't have a choice. You're talking to someone and you're having a great conversation with them and that takes over. You never know who has what to offer,” says Wadhwa.
Because the match making happens after the event is over, there's no additional pressure to accept or reject your date while they're still sitting across from them.
Speed dating organizations often offer targeted events that narrow down what type of singles you meet making it even easier to find someone who shares your interests or opinions. Whether it's religious beliefs or a healthy lifestyle, predetermined common ground is just another benefit of attending a speed dating event over heading to the bar or sorting through polished online profiles.
If this untraditional type of dating is something you've considered but have been hesitant to try out, Wadhwa confirms that confidence naturally comes with attending events and offers several tips for a more comfortable – and hopefully successful – experience.
“Avoid talking about work or what you do for a living,” she says. “Talk about your interests and hobbies because then you're actually getting to know somebody.”
Keeping the conversation flowing can be a source of stress for newcomers to speed dating but asking open-ended questions about favourite foods, travel dreams or what items you could or couldn't live without might just spark something in your date that will have you wishing you had more time to talk.
Still not sure speed dating is right for you? Wadhwa says that going in with an open mind is the best way to approach the events as you never know what the outcome may be.
“It's an opportunity to meet people,” she says, “and no matter who you meet, you can always learn something from them.”
You may leave the event with a dozen friends and, while they might not be the person you were looking for, you never know who they might introduce you to. Your mate might be a few
PHOTO: Waytoosocial.com (illustration), Neha Wadhwa