These days it seems like everyone you meet is on a dating app. Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Grindr, Her, the list goes on and on. While these apps have revolutionized online dating, there are still plenty of people who prefer to look for a new love interest face-to-face.
Meeting someone naturally while you’re out and about on a Friday night is definitely doable, but it’s usually easier said than done. So, what other options do those have who don’t care for dating apps or want to try something new? Is there an effective way to meet local singles without swiping through hundreds of profiles?
Absolutely. It’s called speed dating, and it’s making a comeback.
Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of speed dating and see if it could be a good option for you.
Speed dating is a way of meeting new people, usually for the purpose of finding a romantic connection, but it can also be used to meet friends and network.
First started by a Rabbi named Yacoov Deyo in 1998, speed dating was initially invented as a means for Jewish singles to meet each other. It has since expanded far beyond the Jewish community and has become a popular way to find potential partners.
The general concept of speed dating is that a group of individuals will get together at a predetermined location, typically a restaurant or bar, and will have the opportunity to converse one-on-one for a set amount of time. This time is meant to be spent getting to know the other person to see what they’re like and ultimately decide if you’d like to see them again. It's a particularly great way to meet people for busy single professionals, who have not had much dating success on their own.
One major benefit of speed dating is that there’s quite a bit of structure. Most speed dating events are facilitated by an official group or organization—this group will handle everything from picking the date, time, and location to greeting guests as they arrive and guiding everyone through the event to keep things running smoothly.
Before the event even starts, there’s usually some type of registration or application process. This process can be more or less thorough depending on the sponsoring organization and may include a background check. In addition to registering, most events typically require a fee to cover venue expenses, among other things.
On the evening of the event (speed dating, on par with most first dates, normally takes place after work hours), attendees will arrive at the venue and be greeted by someone from the hosting group. This person will supply everyone with name tags and explain how the event will go. You can expect to go on a series of mini-dates with the other attendees, where you’ll have around 5-7 minutes to get to know one another.
At the end of the event, after everyone has had a chance to meet each other, the organizer will instruct everyone to fill out their scorecards and select who they liked and would like to see again.
The group that sponsored the speed dating event will look over who wants to be connected further with who and find matches i.e. two people who wrote each others’ names down.
They’ll then reach out to everyone who attended the event and let them know if they had any matches, how many, and who they were. The group may facilitate the connections between matches or leave it to the attendees to connect on their own.
How do I know what speed dating company to go with?
There is no shortage of speed dating options to choose from, especially if you're in a major city like New York or Los Angeles, so how do you decide which one to choose? This depends on many factors such as your location, budget, and other personal preferences, but we highly recommend selecting a speed dating company based on how they prioritize the safety of their members.
Look for a group that screens applicants to verify identities and checks for violent criminal records. You want to feel as safe as possible in a room full of strangers.
For example, we asked the founders of Ambyr Club, an NYC speed dating service about how they screen their applicants, "The reality is that you really know nothing about this potential person you've met online, and there's a lot of caution that should come with that. We wanted to create a safe space for both men and women in the club, and for people to show up with nothing but excitement and ease for their experience. Every potential member is pre-vetted via an application process, a virtual interview, and a background check so our members have peace of mind that we do everything possible to ensure the highest level of safety at every event."
What should I wear?
Whatever you feel comfortable in! Some speed dating events will specify a dress code, but if not, it's safe to assume you should wear whatever you would normally wear on a date. You can also look up the venue ahead of time to see if it's more or less upscale, which will help with choosing an outfit.
How long does each conversation last?
The exact number of minutes you'll get to spend with each person will vary, but each speed dating session will typically last around 4-7 minutes each. So, make the most of your time with each person.
How much does speed dating cost?
This will also depend on the speed dating service you decide to go with, but you can usually expect an event fee between $35 and $150. Some services will also require an application fee to cover the cost of onboarding, background screening, and the venue.
Have you ever heard the phrase “interview your interviewer”?
This same advice applies to speed dating. So often on dates, we’re overly occupied with wondering what the other person is thinking of us, rather than focusing on what we think of them. Make sure you’re asking about topics that matter to you. Since you have limited time with each person, you’ll want to come prepared with a few questions that cover the bases most important to you.
Secondly, our brains have the tendency to go blank when we’re asked questions about ourselves. Perfect timing, right? So, we’d recommend thinking through some answers to common questions ahead of time, so you’re not left speechless on the spot. These questions are usually along the lines of “What do you like to do for fun?” “Do you have any hobbies?” “What are you looking for right now? Something casual, a relationship, etc?” “What do you look for in a partner?”
Lastly, the most important speed dating tip we can give you is to just relax and have fun. The idea of going on multiple dates with strangers can be anxiety-inducing, understandably, but everyone’s in the same boat and is likely as nervous as you are, so try your best to enjoy yourself and not overthink it. If you focus on having a good time and being present, you’ll be more likely to have meaningful conversations, which will lead to more matches for you to choose from.
We know first-date questions and icebreakers can be difficult. That's why we also referred to the experts at Ambyr Club for help with this one.
Considering that time is very limited when you're speed dating, they recommend steering away from asking traditional questions that you may ask on a first date. Instead, opt for questions that dig a little deeper than asking what they do and where they're from. Ambyr Club even provides their event attendees with unique ice breakers at the table to help break down walls faster. Some of their questions include: "What's something weird you do when home alone?", "Are you happy with where you're at right now in life?" and even "If you could do your last relationships over differently, what would you change?".
Don’t reveal too much information.
Do not give out personal information to potential matches that could put you at risk, like your address, phone number, or full name. If you hit it off with someone and you both want to see each other again, the organizers will connect you two afterwards and provide you with each other's contact information, so there's no need to overshare.
Ask the company if they background check the members.
One of the best ways to ensure your safety at speed dating events is to choose a company that conducts background checks on its members. You can usually find this out in the site FAQ or you can reach out to the company directly.
Speed dating is a great way to meet people and make connections. Spend some time finding a service that feels right for you, one that prioritizes the safety of its members, and then it's all about having fun and keeping an open mind about the experience.
Best of luck, speed daters!
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