Kathryn's Blog

“How Fast Can We Do It?  Speed Dating Online and Off”

My mind’s been on speed dating lately, which has taken off lately in the same way that Internet dating took off after 9/11. Here’s an article I wrote a year or so ago that is still relevant, which is saying something, since in this day and age, once you have finished an article, it becomes an antique:

“How Fast Can We Do It? Speed Dating Online and Off”

In an effort to cut down the time between meeting and mating to as close to zero as possible, up has popped Speed Dating!

For the uninitiated, speed dating happens when groups of singles meet together at a predetermined location. In an organized fashion, these folks talk to each other individually for under ten minutes (usually six to eight) per person, then switch to the next one in line. Next, each single rates interest (or no interest) in pursuing each contact. Afterwards, the organizers put the parties who indicated mutual interest in touch with each other, with what happens next up to the individuals concerned. Sort of like an adult version of Musical Chairs.

Offered by various businesses like HurryDate.com, and Pre-Dating.com, even the online dating veteran Match.com is jumping into the fray. Match.com sponsors live, face-to-face events in various cities.

But Match.com also been beta testing a completely online version that does not even require that you leave home—all you need is a computer online and another phone line or cell phone to use at the same time. After having a chance to look at the other’s profile and photo, the Match.com answer to supersonic speed puts you on the phone with one guy or gal after another—for an even shorter four minutes! Then, up comes the form, and just indicate your choice: “Yes, no, or maybe.”

Like most face to face events that I hear about (and I include the Match.com computer-based speed dating in this category), it sounds as if women usually outnumber men. Why? Well, women may just be more comfortable in these more social, on-the-spot sort of events. If you are not quick with words or good handling things on your feet, you’d be at a disadvantage. Guys report feeling trapped and uncomfortable. And there can be an air of competition that could make men antsy, not wanting to participate in something where they could lose or feel foolish.
There’s a message here for guys: Given the ratios, these kind of events would be great places for you to try. And they would provide great practice in mastering a social patter that would be useful in other situations.

The advantages to both men and women? Well, clearly, speed. And practice. And to “get your feet wet” and get a sense that there is plenty of choice out there. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky!

The disadvantages? With face-to-face as well as online speed dating, you’ve got next to no screening except signing up /paying up / showing up. So you find a range of people, likely most of whom will not be even a passable fit for you.

With regular online dating, at least you get to screen to your heart’s content in total privacy, before making even one direct contact. You get to sift out potentials who are clearly wrong for you.

With speed dating events, what you see is what you get. As one woman reported, “When you see all those plaid jackets and missing teeth, it can be pretty depressing.”

Think about it: How fast do we really want to do this? After all, this is a life-partner search. What if the perfect guy or lady for you does not show him or herself the best in four to eight minutes?

Internet dating has already made the meeting process more efficient than we have ever known before. If we figure out many more ways to cut the time down, we’ll be saying “no” before any contact at all. That sounds suspiciously like staying home and doing nothing!



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