Prior to last week, when speed dating came to mind, I immediately thought about the “Date-a-Palooza” scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin. In case you haven’t seen the movie (which is hilarious from beginning to end) this particular scene offers lots of awkward conversation, an annoyingly chatty woman and an incredibly uncomfortable meeting between a lovesick man and his exasperated ex-girlfriend.
As a recent college graduate anxious to rediscover the Triangle and meet new people, I was open to trying something new. As a result, on an extraordinary Saturday night, not only did I go out alone, I decided to give speed dating a go.
I confidently strolled into Raleigh’s Rum Runners a few minutes before the start time. My self-assurance started to wane when I looked around and realized that many of the women there were in attendance with a friend or two. Not to mention, I also noticed that of the 12 other women present, I was the only one wearing a dress.
Self-doubt suddenly began to cloud my thoughts: Am I overdressed? Do I look odd sitting alone? Fortunately, my iPhone kept me company and my complimentary drink gave me a much-needed dose of liquid courage as I waited for the event to commence.
At 5:30 PM the organizer of the function introduced herself and explained how speed dating works: To start with, women are to sit at the same table throughout the event while the men alternate from table-to-table. During seven minute increments, the 13 pairs would have an opportunity to chat with one another until the bell rings, signifying that it is time for the guy to move on to his next date. What’s more, after each date, we were to indicate on our forms whether there was an interest in our partner as a friend, a date or not at all. The latter meant we wanted to have absolutely no further contact with him or her. This process was to continue until everyone had met. Finally, after the event, the organizer would send our results via email.
Immediately after the introduction, the bell sounded and we got the show on the road.
For my first date, I kicked off the conversation by asking if he had ever participated in speed dating before. I then followed up that question with several more questions regarding hobbies, background and personal interests. My goal was to ultimately keep the conversation going and avoid any awkward silence. When in doubt, I was sure to smile, giggle and give lots of compliments. Thankfully, my technique worked for the first date, so I decided to stick with it all through the event.
In the span of about 90-minutes, I learned an overwhelming amount of information about each of the participants, but mostly, I learned that people love to talk about themselves.
When the event came to close, I wrote that I was not at all interested in the majority of men present and attracted to two as potential interests. After returning home and checking my email, I discovered the two men had mutual feelings and several others wanted to at least be friends. I was quite flattered.
While I feel like speed dating may be an effective way to meet people, I do not believe it is the best way to meet prospective love interests. In fact, I believe the speed dating format is ideal for networking, as I was able to meet several like-minded young professionals.
So, did I enjoy myself? Definitely. Would I do it again? Definitely not.
All in all, my speed dating experience was not in vain. In addition to newfound contacts in the journalism industry, I also acquired a Valentine’s Day date.
Featured Image: http://s3.amazonaws.com