Has anyone tried speed dating?
September 28, 2008 11:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm a cute, smart and determined 25 year old girl who is looking to try out the local dating scene. I've been looking into speed-dating, but I wanted to tap MeFi for any advice or suggestions. Has anyone tried speed scenarios like 8minuteDating?

I'm busy right now completing two degrees, but I feel that I finally have the time for something beyond dinner a couple times. My concern is that people go into speed dating for a one-night stand type of deal, whereas I'm really looking for an efficient way to meet a variety of men. What should I expect?
posted by thatbrunette to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've never tried the speed-dating scene.

I have tried the online dating thing, however, to varying degrees of success, and with the same net outcome: a variety of women.

I tried the MySpace/CL route a bit, because I learned pretty early on that my personality plays out pretty well over IM. It's dramatically helps reduce the first-time-speaking-to-you jitters, since it's a relatively non-committal medium, and since the conversation doesn't need to be forced, and it allows itself to pace properly and naturally.

I've gotten to know people over several weeks over IM before bringing it into real life and/or phone stuff. And I've found it's pretty easy to effectively judge massive incompatibility with someone pretty early on (for me, for instance, if you can't spell, say, your name right, chances are it's not going to work) because of the breadth of topics you can cover, etc.

This isn't my way of saying that you shouldn't try speeddating entirely; I'll leave that to people who have tried it. But it's definitely to say that the online thing might fit your lifestyle in a surprisingly awesome fashion, for now. "Rejection" is a lot easier to take when you basically just don't chat anymore, or, if necessary, block someone. You can talk any time and for any length of time both parties are available, without having to arrange for an actual date and block time out, and it's considerably safer, assuming you take proper precautions when you do meet, and about what details you reveal during the "courting" phase.

I don't know what I'd get out of 8 minutes with someone, but I suppose I might be able to glean just enough to determine if we're wholly incompatible. I'd probably boil things down to a smarmy list of arbitrary "hope-she-haves", like "reads the economist" or "isn't terribly religious" or "loves bacon like whoa." Which isn't to say those things aren't covered during IM, but just that it's less "here's me on display, trying to make an impression that works for you so I'm going to go with my standard stand-up piece and hope it lands". I'm sure I could vamp well enough, but that'd probably not be my best foot forward.

Regarding online stuff, if you're considering that, you should be wary of CL from the girl's perspective; posting yourself will result in a massive influx of guys who just don't get it. Replying to one of the few honest, cool, down-to-earth seeming guys on there will yield much better potential results. Or you can try Match or eHarmony, but perhaps give the free options a shot.

And if you go that route, write something clever, specific and fun. Just "I'd like to chat, hit me back some time" makes a guy think you're a spammer, since they have their way on the CL too.

As for me, I think we really need MeFi Personals. Just sayin'.
posted by disillusioned at 12:21 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I went to one speed dating event while living in France. It was totally uninteresting if you played by their rules, but some big groups hung out & chatted afterwards. So plan on staying in the bar afterwards, which kinda defeats the point I suppose. I've found making friends often requires hanging around quite a while, funny that. Otoh, if you play by the rules, filling out your form for contact info, then you'll get more Mr. Clingy Nice and less Rico Suave (he knows to hang around afterwards). Well, speed dating is still a big step up from online dating.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:24 AM on September 29, 2008

I personally never went through speed dating, but I also don't know anybody who did it for a one-night stand. It can be a good alternative to the bar scene; you're just increasing your odds of finding someone you click with. Judging by my friends that have gone through it, I think most people have the same mindset as you.

Also, if you post anything dating-related on Craigslist, YOU WILL GET PICTURES OF PENIS EMAILED TO YOU. Just saying.
posted by chundo at 8:04 AM on September 29, 2008

I did speed dating a couple of times, a few years back and didn't really find it to be all that helpful but I think that's somewhat due to my own personality. I don't think I'm at my best in those situations and tend to like a bit more opportunity to chat before I feel comfortable. Speed dating seemed very superficial to me in terms of looking for a date but was an interesting way to spend an evening. I hadn't really thought about it being best for one-nighters but now that you mention it, the only guy I ever went out with after a speed dating event made it clear that that's all he wanted, some four hours into an otherwise confusing and boring date.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:59 AM on September 29, 2008

I met my partner as well as a couple of other smart, interesting guys on personals.salon.com (which also cross-pollinates with the Onion and Rotten Tomatoes dating sites) and thought that it was a good efficient tool. It was (mostly) free, I thought their profile questions were fun and interesting, allowing you to be just as specific or deep as you wanted to be, e.g.

What is on your bedroom floor? (My answer, I believe, was a stack of unread periodicals as well as well-thumbed copies of National Geographic and the Economist- my partner's answer involved a stuffed Octopus as well as a Giant Microbe, pieces of a yet-unfinished wooden dinosaur skeleton and a book on Poincare)

I liked it because you could really tailor the answers to fit your personality.

I thought reading profiles was a quick, easy way to weed through guys in my area, though it does imply finding the time to write your own profile. I met the guys who initially seemed interesting for coffee at one of my favorite bookstores, which I think is a great way to suggest an activity which can graciously be brought to a close (after you gulp your small cup of tea, for instance) or can be indefinitely extended if both parties are interested.

Speed dating sounds more like a sport (albeit an entertaining one) than a way to meet potential new friends/relationship partners.
posted by RachelSmith at 10:12 AM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: I do actually have 3 tips for speed dating, if you try it:

1. Do NOT talk about work. At all. Don't mention your job and if the other person tries, stop them. If you research the history of speed dating and dig a little, you'll see that this was one of the things they specifically asked people not to do. So much of our lives is focused on work or school, and you're not going to be dating someone's job or class schedule. You'll be spending time with this person elsewhere... find out what that's like. Think long and hard before you walk in there about your questions.

2. Every person will sit down and rattle off who they are, what they do, age, where they live, etc. Don't do this. Stand out. Think about things you've found really attractive or totally unbearable about past dates and find a way to creatively feel out each person to see if they have these characteristics or habits. Everyone is so freaking nervous at these things that if you can focus yourself beforehand, walk yourself through a practice session with a friend of the opposite sex and make notes. If you met the guy of your dreams and you felt butterflies as soon as you saw him, and could tell him one thing about yourself that you'd want to make a lasting impression, what would it be? Also, try to radiate happiness and excitement when you're there.

3. Don't dress like you're going on a date, but also don't look like you literally just walked out of the door at work and are tired. Instead, try to look like you would if you were meeting with a group of friends for a fun outing, like a repertory film or exhibit. And if there is alcohol, don't get drunk at the event! 8 minutes is not very long, but if it's with someone you immediately can't stand, it'll seem like forever and the temptation to pound a drink will be strong.

You'll get a card (or cards) with each person's number. Each person's number I think will also be on a badge or name sticker-type thing. You will rate each person and then circle a "yes" or "no" as to whether you want to exchange contact information.

All the yeses get sent each other's info. All the no's they don't bother with. All the people who said yes to you but you said no, I'm not sure what happens... I think it depends on the group, but you may get something along the lines of "you didn't both pick each other so you're probably not compatible."

It's a lot like doing a power interview; if you are looking to QUICKLY meet people you normally never would, travel a lot or work a lot, it can work.

If you just moved to a new city or haven't dated in a while, it'll help you figure out what guys you know you want to avoid.

If it were me, every guy that made a bad impression on me I would ask where they typically go and what they do on weekends and see if there's a pattern, then avoid those places. Save yourself the trouble of going to a swanky jerk-magnet bar or neighborhood.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:08 AM on September 29, 2008 [3 favorites]

Unicorn on the cob nailed the experience pretty well, overall, and made good suggestions if you decide to go through with it.

I did speed dating once with a couple of friends...mostly as a lark - we were all single and liked to mingle so why not. I did think it was more enjoyable with friends than doing it alone might be, but the overall experience was nothing special. In fact, the only girls we met at the event who were at all interesting (and near our age) also went as a group of three.

I think hard part of it was the age disparity - we were in our late 20s, but just about everyone else was early to mid 30s even though the even was targeted for "25-35 year olds". Also, and this may have been specific to the mismanagement at the one we participated in, every fella didn't get to speak to every girl.... The girls stayed at the tables while the men rotated every X minutes. Since the event wasn't very long, it meant that each guy didn't get to meet each girl. The mingling after the event was alright, though, and meant that you could talk to anyone you couldn't before. But then it basically just turns into a bar scene, and if you're looking for that you'd be better off going to a place with the kind of crowd you're interested in.

They also had cards on the tables as "conversation starters", but, really, holding an 8 minute long conversation with a stranger isn't that hard to do if you have a modicum of intelligence. Out of the 12 or so women I talked to, most were pretty normal and amicable. The guys I saw there also seemed alright. In general, however, not the kind of crowd I usually associate with. My advice overall would be to hang out or go to environments already along the same lines of what you're into or try a speed dating event geared towards activities that dovetail with your own. It's fun as a lark and makes a good story to tell to your friends.
posted by sub-culture at 1:15 PM on September 29, 2008

I tried it once a few months ago. Totally not for me. It was pub trivia with teams mixed with speed dating, which was not a good way to get to know anyone. Nor were the kind of guys I like there.

I think speed dating can work if the theme is appropriate to the kind of person you are. I'd probably do better at rock and roll speed dating.
posted by loriginedumonde at 9:12 PM on September 29, 2008

Also, pub quizzes are great for meeting people, go to one with one single friend, agree on some group of friendly & attractive looking guys, and ask if you can join them for the quiz. So you get 1 hour's worth of relaxing camaraderie with 3-6 reasonable members of the opposite sex. And you can easily bolt if they're lame. Plus your pub quiz crowed is sharper than the standard bar crowed.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:51 AM on September 30, 2008

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