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Speed Dating: What’s The Concept?

What's the deal with speed dating? Worth it? Jackie Suis blogs at Hope Boulevard. She is a writer who shares stories of life and offers her perspective as a single woman while dating in midlife. We hope you’ll enjoy this piece on speed dating.

I recently missed an opportunity to go to a speed dating event. And by missed, I mean, I chose not to go. Not because of lack of interest. I have been curious about it for years. I’m just not sure how well I would do. I am a wallflower, a watch the room from the corner kind-of-girl. And at these events they don’t put the tables in the corner. You have to jump right in at a break neck pace and bring your A-game. Whatever alphabet my game has typically works at a snail’s pace. (Can we all say over-thinker?)

The origins of speed dating, in a very interesting piece of trivia, traces back to 1998 when a Los Angeles Rabbi trademarked the term and the concept as a way for Jewish people to meet and marry. Seriously… I would not make this up. (Just sit on that information for a minute.) Now, I absolutely am not an expert in Jewish traditions, culture or dating habits, but I find it extremely fascinating that a Rabbi came up with the original version of in-person Tinder.

Speed Dating: What’s The Concept?

It can vary from location and sponsor, but basically you have tables in a room with an even number of women and men. One gender is designated as the slider. Usually it is the men. So all the women come in and sit down on one side of the table. The men then come and find a seat across from a woman. A start buzzer sounds and you have approximately 6-8 minutes to talk with the person directly in front of you. When the buzzer sounds again, all the men slide one chair over and the process begins again. There is a tally sheet and each person notes who they would like to get to know better. At the end of the night, if there is a match made, both people are given the contact information of their match.

I don’t know about you, but that seems like a lot of pressure to me. The upside is you can meet a lot of guys/gals, but I have enough trouble getting psyched up to try to impress one guy! Now I have to impress 15?? And what can you actually accomplish in six minutes? You can’t even boil an egg or make it through the Zaxby’s drive-thru. It takes me six minutes to figure out which shoes to wear, much less which guy I want to give my phone number to. And don’t get me started me on the competition. They are literally on either side. That’s all I would need, as my luck would have it, to sit between the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Sandra Bullock. Plus, knowing me, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate because I would eavesdrop on the other conversations. I’m just nosey like that. It all makes my head hurt a little.

Since my curiosity was already piqued I did a little more research. Turns out, according to a study in the Science of Love (true thing), it only takes between 90 seconds and four minutes of face-to-face interaction to determine attraction. I guess this would explain the dates that have left me before the drinks arrived.

In another unusual tidbit of this study, travel was more important than previous marriages or a smoking habit. They obviously didn’t talk to me. My marriage stories are far more entertaining than my travel ones. Age (as in younger) is more important to men and height (as in taller) is more important to women. The men have the advantage here because chairs are an equalizer in height; not so much for wrinkles.

There are variations of speed dating too. Some cities have speed networking. Networking! People show up and exchange business cards, chat briefly in a happy hour type setting in order to broaden their exposure and increase their contact base. In the UK, they actually have speed political meetings. Constituents can come meet their representatives. They just can’t stay long enough to ask a question that would make the representatives uncomfortable.

And then there is speed food gathering. There is a new grocery store opening in the area. The one service they hype is the personal shopper. You go online, fill out your list, drive up to the store and they bring out your order. Admittedly that is pretty sweet. I despise grocery shopping. But there is still something to be said for the process. I do not think I’m ready to surrender my power to check the expiration date or squeeze the tomatoes. I like to check out the deals and yes, I admit, I will buy something if I like the packaging. Sure curbside milk pick up might be handy, but I still believe certain things need hands on attention. What is the limit to all these new fangled time-saving tricks?

And why are we this terribly obsessed with saving time? What are we doing that is so important  we have to rush through important experiences and decisions in our lives? We have become a society that doesn’t appreciate putting time and effort in what should be a meaningful journey. We operate at full throttle like we are just on the verge of missing the next big thing, yet we end up missing all the little things. Checking off too many tasks in a day planner that doesn’t leave time for the day. I think the phrase is called going nowhere fast. What are we doing to ourselves my friends?

I think I got off track a little. It does strike me though as ironic how much work we put into saving time just so we have more time to do work. I vote we all slow down a bit. Take a break. Enjoy the sunrise; or sunset. Walk the dog. Take a hike. Watch a movie. Go on a date with ONE person. Talk for 60 instead of six minutes. See how that might work.

I’m not totally against speed dating. I might try it one day. At the very least, it should provide enough fodder for one of these entries. But for now I think I will avoid hitting the fast track of love. I’ll just take the scenic route. Maybe stop by the grocery store, actually go inside and ram my cart into the cute guy at produce counter.

We both still like to squeeze our own tomatoes.

Jackie Suis

Jackie Suis makes her home in Greenville, SC and has a blog called Hope Boulevard. It is a collection of stories and views from being a single woman and dating in Mid-Life! In addition to her blog, Jackie also holds down a full time job and has two grown daughters and one grandson. Her life is rich and full! To read more of her blogs and stories to go

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