Sports editor Rachel/My roommate recently went speed dating. When I was on the single scene I was never brave enough to try it, so I was eager to get the lowdown.
Why did you decide to go speed dating?
My job doesn’t present me with a lot of opportunities to meet guys, nor do my hobbies. So that means trying to find a date is a lot of work for me! I don’t really go to bars or come across guys in casual settings too often. So when my friend got an email from Professionals in the City about speed dating in Arlington and wanted to go, I thought it was a great idea. I know that I need to put in the effort if I want to date, even if it hard for me, and this was a chance to do that.
Also, I was issued a challenge to go on (or at least arrange) two dates before the end of 2010, and I could count this as one of them!
An awesomely bad single dating promo video by Professionals in the City:
Are you glad you went with a friend?
Yes, for me that helped a lot to get me to commit. I knew that no matter how awkward and out-of-place I felt, I would still have someone to talk to. One guy I talked to during the event who had done a lot of speed dating said that girls often come in pairs. However, I thought the event was well-organized so you wouldn’t really need to go with a friend. As soon as we walked in the door to the bar (Zen in Pentagon Row) the Professionals in the City coordinators immediately asked our names and got us signed in for the event. There was no uncomfortable moment of going up to anyone and asking where the speed dating was, which I think set a good tone for the experience. It also keeps you from being able to chicken out! It was also nice to have someone to chat to before the event started. There was some down time with a lot of solo bar-sitting going on before the dates officially started.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how awkward was it (1 is completely normal, 10 is Michael Scott on The Office?)
My friend and I rate it somewhere between 2 and 4 – not so awkward! They did some great things to help it be organized but not too organized that I think helped everyone along. The girls all sat at different stations (couches, tables, the bar) and then the organizers put a table tent with a number at each station, to indicate the order to rotate in. They didn’t care which girl sat in which spot to start, or what guy sat down there, or exactly where the stations were ahead of time. It was flexible but still structured.
Of course, everyone is a little bit awkward, especially at first, because you’re thrown right into a conversation, maybe with a type of person you’d normally never talk to. But you don’t get too long for any one conversation and everyone seemed to be taking the experience seriously. The fact that everyone was there for the same reason kept it from being higher on the awkward scale.
How many guys did you talk to? How many minutes was each “date”?
There were 11 or 12 guys at this event, which one person told me was a low number. I thought it was a pretty good amount of people, though! For the first few rotations, you think that you’ll easily remember everyone, what you talked about, and who you liked. After you pass 5 or 6 conversations in a whirlwind half-an-hour, you’re not so sure anymore. The dates lasted 5 minutes, and I’ve heard it can be as little as 3 or 4 if there are more people.
At the end of the rotation, the people in charge would say something like “it’s about time to move on” and then give a few extra seconds for you to finish up what you were saying. It wasn’t too pushy or rigid. When I pictured speed dating, I imagined an old woman with a bell on her desk, dinging and demanding complete silence.
Did five minutes feel like a long time?
It definitely can feel that way, but for the most part, it was a good length of time. In five minutes you can definitely tell if someone is just not your type, or if you might be interested in getting to know them a little better. It was also enough time to get past the initial rush of trying to find one thing to talk about, and let you move on to one or two other quick subjects, or find something to talk about more in depth that was of interest to both people.
What did you talk about?
Different guys had really different approaches. I think I can break them down into a few categories.
- The Observer – asked questions like, “have you been speed dating before?” “How is your evening going?”
- The Checklist – this guy asked a basic question right away. Things like, “what do you?” “What are your hobbies?” “How long have you lived in DC?”
- The Inquisitor – has tons of questions for you but won’t answer any back or say anything about himself. How am I supposed to tell if I like you if you’re playing 20 Questions with me? We both need a chance to decide!
- The Cannonball – One guy jumped right into a conversation mid-stream when he sat down at my table, telling me all about his day. He barreled right through any awkwardness and I will say, that was the conversation where I was least aware of the time. It was fun to be in a conversation that didn’t feel anything like an interview.
- The Hesitator – he waited for me to start talking, and then I was the one falling into one of these other categories! I didn’t have a consistent strategy but usually went for “observer” or “checklist” questions, usually trying to talk about something different than my previous conversation. It’s hard to get excited to have the same exact conversation 12 times in a row. That’s a high school reunion, not a date.
Score any digits?
After the event, Professionals in the City sends out a link where you log-in to your event. From there, you can message people directly, or use their “mutual match” feature where you give a check mark to anyone who you were interested in, and then the system lets you know if you both liked each other. So there’s not any pressure to make a future date in those 5 minutes, because you’ll have another chance later.
I did have a couple people ask for my number right then!
Would you go speed dating again?
Now that I’ve done it once, I would feel comfortable going by myself, and I would definitely give speed dating another try. I thought it was a fun and effective way to meet potential dates. I will definitely recommend it!
Any tips for future speed daters?
Taking notes may not seem important at first because you think you’ll remember everyone. After the first 5 or 6 guys they all seem to blend together. Take notes!
Getting asked the same questions over and over allows you to rethink your answers, so you might notice yourself phrasing things better after a few tries. Everything gets better with practice, including speed dating skills.
Make sure your nametag is stuck on somewhere that your date can read it.