I’ll never forget my first speed dating event. I was 32, single, living in NYC and SO unimpressed with the dating scene. I had tried pretty much every singles event out there and then decided to give speed dating a go. I signed up for an event for singles 25-35. Upon arriving, I found myself surrounded by a sea of short, unattractive, socially awkward men. My first date started with the guy saying, “I know you, you’re on Match.com. I emailed you 10 times and you never responded to me. I paid my $40 and now you have to talk to me for 8 minutes.”
That brutal experience was the catalyst for me being inspired to create my ow dating service where I could finally meet the type of men I was looking to meet while subsidizing my income at the same time. Instead of offering dating events based solely on age range, OnSpeedDating offers 75+ niche events for singles of all sexual orientations themed around deal breakers and preferences. We offer events like:
“Men With Accents Are Hot" (watch a video of that event here)
“Rescue Me” for women that want to date firemen
"Femme for Femme"
“Hung” for women in search of a big package
“Finance-ista” for women that want to date men in finance
“Non-Practicing Jew” night
“Childproof” for singles that don’t want children ever
And because you can’t teach height, “Size Matters” to date men 6'1" and taller
Why Speed Dating:
At a bar, you don’t know who is single and it’s not always easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger. With speed dating, there's WAY less disappointment and false advertising than the online dating scene, as you get to check out the merchandise up close and in-person.
Chemistry is instant-- it’s either there or it's not. Speed dating gives you the chance to assess having a connection with someone without committing to the time and expense of a full-on date. Plus, you can meet anywhere from 10-25 singles in a night. That's more "dates" than the majority of people go on in a year.
What To Expect:
Most speed dating events take place at bars and lounges, coffee shops or restaurants. Upon arriving you will check in with your event host and receive a name tag, dating pamphlet and pencil. Next, you will be seated at a numbered table with your first “date” of the night. Once the official start bell rings, you will have approximately 3-5 minutes to get to know each other. The dating pamphlets and pencils are to takes notes on your dates so you can remember who’s who after the event.
After 3-5 minutes, a bell will sound signaling the end of the date. At this time, the women will usually remain seated and the men will rotate to the next table. The event will end once everyone has met. You’ll either select your matches online at home after the event, or you’ll turn your pamphlets into your host and they’ll do the matching for you, emailing you the contact information of any interested suitors within 2-3 days after the event.
My Top 10 Speed Dating Survival Tips:
1. Saved By The Bell
Depending on the service you’re using, “dates” can range anywhere from 3-12 minutes. Our events are 3 minutes -- I'd rather leave you wanting more than wanting to slit your wrists. And trust me, there are always going to be some painful dates in the mix -- the ones that have nothing to say, or equally enjoyable, the ones who won’t shut up. I also recommend going with a company that guarantees a minimum of ten dates.
2. Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number
Think about it: are you more likely to hit it off with someone because they fall within your same 28-35 age range, or because they meet your height requirement, enjoy the same pastimes or hobbies as you, and perhaps even share your same political views? We all have relationship "deal-breakers," and those do not make us shallow. We're just discerning singles that know what we want. By registering to attend a themed event (i.e. tall singles, democratic or fitness singles) you will increase the odds of hitting it off with someone.
3. Be Open
There may be an event where you are NOT attracted to anyone in attendance. You may even come to that realization before the event begins. If that’s the case, don’t get negative or shut yourself off to the possibility of meeting someone. I've even seen people that have paid for an event, show up, give the crowd a once over and discreetly leave before the event starts. So maybe you don’t meet your next boyfriend, but you could meet your next boss, wing woman or workout partner. You may even meet “the guy” that will be responsible for later introducing you to “the one.” Don’t close yourself off to the possibilities.
4. Breathe Friendly
Always have gum or mints on hand. You’re going to be seated within close proximity of 10-25 "dates" and talking a mile a minute. You definitely don’t want to be without gum or mints midway through an event if your breath suddenly starts kickin’ (not to mention, it'll come in handy if the guy you're "dating" is in need).
5. No Monologues
This can totally happen on a normal date, but with speed dating it’s even more problematic and annoying as you are only working with 3-5 minutes. It’s very easy to be long-winded and want to tell the person everything about yourself to impress them. However, keep in mind you have a VERY short amount of time, so even if you manage to miraculously get your whole life story out by the ding of the bell, you could end up not knowing anything about your date. It should really be an exchange of information, give and take.
6. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Do NOT ask for someone else’s digits or business card at the event, nor should you feel obligated to give your digits out if asked. Speed Dating is designed to be a no-pressure environment. If you want someone to know you like them during an event, let them buy you a drink and talk with them more during a break and definitely select them as a "match" post-event.
7. Perfect Strangers
I know it may be more comfortable to sit next to the two girlfriends that you came to the event with, but it can be VERY intimidating for a guy to speed date a group of friends sitting right next to each other. Furthermore, the constant looks, comments and/or assessments from your friends may sway or distort your own views of a guy. I’ve been to speed dating events where I didn’t meet any guys, but instead ended up hitting it off with the women sitting on either side of me. If you’re sitting by women you already know, you’re not going to meet any new "wing women."
8. Cruel Intentions
Don’t write someone as a "match" post-event if you have no intention of seeing them again. Sometimes people feel obligated to check someone off as a "match" because they may have seemed like a nice person, however, that is not what speed dating is about. For guys, it tends to be an "ego" thing, where they want as many women as possible to also check them as a "match," so they select every woman in attendance hoping they’ll reciprocate. Speed dating is not a popularity contest, nor is it intended to be a self-esteem builder. Speed dating is designed to help you find someone you want to date.
9. Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures
If you didn’t follow my advice about not going to an event where the dates are longer than five minutes and you find yourself on a painfully long date where you seriously think you might not make it, I would suggest an urgent, couldn’t be avoided, bathroom break. Do not use this tactic too often, make it sound convincing and time it appropriately so you’re back just in time for your date with the hot guy seated at table four.
10. Know Before You Go
If you get the sense that someone came with friends, it might be a good idea to confirm this notion as you may end up checking two men as a "match" that are friends and dating them both could be problematic.
Now that you know what speed dating is all about and the rules to make it a successful experience, you need to try it out!
Amber Soletti is the co-founder of two of NYC’s hottest dating services. Amber has written many published articles on dating advice and the NYC singles scene. She, along with her edgy, tongue-in-cheek “themed” speed dating events, singles parties and free online dating service have been featured by The New York Times, Howard Stern, Regis & Kelly, The New York Post, What Not To Wear, Dateline NBC, Good Day NY, CNN and more.
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