Speed Dating

The Science Of Speed Dating

Speed Dating
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If you'd asked me about speed dating a few weeks ago, I probably would have responded with a blank stare. Speed dating? Does anyone even do that anymore? Haven't those people heard of the Internet? It seemed like a completely outdated approach to finding love.

Then along came not one, not two, but three friends who had all taken a chance on speed dating in recent months. One even involved a boat. Apparently I didn't have my finger on the pulse of the dating industry as much as I thought I did...speed dating is still alive and well, and it's definitely not just for people who haven't heard of the Internet yet.

Curious about what seemed like a very retro way to date, I started to research speed dating. Ok, so people were doing it, but does it work? Is there any way it could possibly be better than the online dating sites I'd come to know and love?

Two researchers at Stanford University in California were just as intrigued by speed dating as I was. They found that there are a few key factors of the standard four-minute speed date that predict whether two people are likely to hit it off. They rounded up students to take part in a series of recorded speed dating sessions, then analyzed 1,100 transcripts of the subjects' dates.

According to the study, men and women most often said they clicked when their conversation focused mainly on the women. Women were more likely to report connecting with men who used appreciative language (like "That's great!"). Women also reported greater levels of connection with men who interrupted them - but only when they did so to show understanding and engagement (like "Exactly").

Counterintuitively, asking questions was not necessarily a hallmark of a good dating conversation. Asking questions actually signals a lack of connection, most likely because it indicates that the participants feel the need to put effort into keeping a boring conversation going. Signs of a good conversation are much more subtle, like the variation in speech volume.

While some previous research on speed dating has found that physical attractiveness is the most powerful force determining whether two people are initially attracted to each other, the Stanford study proves there's more going on. Another study found that speed-dating couples with similar speaking styles were more likely to report a mutual connection.

Speed dating still seems like a thing of the past to me, but if science thinks there's something to it, who am I to argue? Studies have proved that people are shockingly quick to determine whether or not they're interested in seeing someone again and though swift, it appears their decisions are based on more than just a pretty face.

For some sites that offer this type of service you can check out our speed dating category.

Speed Dating: Should I Try It?

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Many people have tried online dating, but most are still resistant to try speed dating. Something about spending only five minutes trying get to know your date before moving on to the next makes some people anxious, and I can't blame them. That's so much pressure - how can you possibly get to know someone in that small amount of time?

Since I spent six years as a speed dating host, I saw a lot of great people get completely overwhelmed and frustrated by the experience. But the problem was not with speed dating itself, or with the people who attended. The problem was that people approached it the wrong way, with unrealistic expectations.

While it seems like an easy concept - meet 15-20 people in one night in a series of mini-dates, see if you click, and if so, go out on a real date - it's not that simple. In real life, there aren't many places we go where we see someone across the room and instantly connect. Many people come to speed dating expecting this type of love at first sight. And they leave disappointed because they met a roomful of decent men or women, but none that make them swoon.

Instead of looking at speed dating as a chemistry test, I advise you to keep an open mind. Just because there's no love at first sight doesn't mean you shouldn't date someone who piques your interest or who you had a fun time talking with. Quite the opposite. Go out and give it a chance. Then you can make a more informed decision about whether or not you want to spend more time together. If you don't click romantically, then you've added a new friend to your network. I met several friends this way and was invited to a lot of parties, where I did eventually meet men that I dated. Speed dating is a great way to expand your social network.

For some people, speed dating means forced conversation, which isn't the best way to flirt and attract someone to you. Some of my clients would list off their attributes like they were in a job interview and had three minutes to sell themselves. This is not an effective way to engage. Women like to feel connected, so ask questions and engage her in conversation rather than just talking to her and you'll have more success.

It's also good to recognize that the same old questions get boring when asked over and over again. Many speed daters approach each other like they are at a cocktail party where they don't know anyone, asking the polite questions of "where are you from" or "what do you do?"

Instead of taking the traditional route, start to think outside the box. If you want to keep from falling asleep or crying from boredom after a couple of dates with the same stale questions, you have to think differently and mix things up. Ask one date about his most embarrassing experience. Ask another about what he likes to do on the weekend. And ask another what his favorite subject was in school. These are just examples - feel free to be creative.

Bottom line: keep an open mind, have fun, be creative, and don't take yourself or the speed dating process too seriously. It's a way to meet people outside of your immediate network, so try to enjoy yourself.

For more information on a two different speed dating services, you can read our Hurry Date review and our Speed Date review.

New Guinness World Record for Speed Dating

Speed Dating
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A new Guinness World Records title for speed dating was set on February 8th, 2011 in Chicago. 414 daters participated in an event organized by HurryDate.com. Official Guinness World Records guidelines for speed dating state that each participant has to participate in at least 20 speed dates for a minimum of three minutes each. No intermissions are allowed and participants cannot date the same person twice. Log books must also be kept by participants and the event must be hosted by an established dating agency.

The previous record for speed dating was 313 daters set in New Jersey on January 29th of last year.

Related Story: HurryDate Seeks Guinness Record for Speed Dating

For more on the story you can check out the press release. To find out more about this speed dating service, please read our HurryDate.com review.

Types of Online Dating Services: Speed Dating

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In a hurry? Tired of coffee dates that seem to go nowhere? Wait no more! In addition to the other matchmaker and classified-type online dating sites, speed dating is on the rise.

Most of these websites have a significant offline component. These are the actual dating event where you meet anywhere from 8 to 15 people over the course of an evening. While both SpeedDate.com and HuryyDate.com have an online component as well with such features as IM and matching, most are online portals to direct you to a live event.

Benefits of Speed Dating

If you haven’t had success with one-on-one encounters that have the potential to drag on or you’re just too nice a person to say “no, thank you,” then speed dating might be something to try. Your “dates” last anywhere from five to eight minutes, after which you move on to the next candidate. There’s not really an opportunity for awkward silence and whether you fancy them of not, five to eight minutes isn’t really enough time to say anything you might regret!

Drawbacks to Speed Dating

If you’re more comfortable getting to know someone over a more anonymous forum prior to meeting, then speed dating probably won’t be your ideal fit. Since these are primarily live events, you’ll probably enjoy the online dating sites like Match.com or JDate.com more as they protect your privacy and let you prepare for face-to-face meetings at your own speed.

Tips for Speed Dating

Since your dates go by so quickly, have a few questions you’d like to ask your dates in the bag. Otherwise, try to have fun! Make it less of an interview and more of a conversation and your date across the table will be able to let loose and show you a little glimpse of themselves. If you drill ‘em, you’re going to see less “them” and more “defensive them.” Go easy on that guy or gal, as they’re just as interested in making a quality connection as you are.

If you are interested in a dating site which offers this service, you should read our review of HurryDate.

For the first article in this series, read: Types of Online Dating Services: Overview

Are Men or Women more Selective at Dating, Part 2

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We first learned about the study to find which gender is pickier when it comes to dating in July (see Story). In an article from Live Science we learned a few more details about this speed dating study by Eli Finkel and Paul Eastwick of Northwestern University.

The studies participants were 350 college students who were divided into 15 speed dating events. Each student went on 4 minute speed dates with about 12 singles of the opposite sex. After each mini date, each student would rate:

  • How much self confidence they felt.
  • Romantic desire for the person on the date.
  • The romantic chemistry that the participant felt existed between them.
  • Would you like to see this person again?

After the data was compiled from the speed dating events, it was found that the daters who rotated around the room to each participant who was sitting, that they experienced greater romantic desire and chemistry. This means the people who went from person to person were less selective than the person sitting waiting for the next date in the rotation. The study further confirmed that this fact was true for both men and women. Finkel & Eastwick concluded that it was the act of approaching, or being approached by a person, which determined who was more likely to be more selective in determining a partner.

If speed dating is of interest to you, check out our Speed Dating Services category for all dating sites that offer online and off speed dating events near you.

Speed Dating

Speed Dating
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Our new Speed Dating category is now available to all visitors. Speed Dating events or parties are usually held either online at a website or, in the "Real World" at a bar, restaurant or other entertainment location. Speed Dating offers singles a fast and easy way to meet 10 or more new people in a single night. At a typical event you go on short 3 to 6 minute speed dates with each participant of the opposite gender. After each short date you then score the person as someone you would like to either see again or not. At the end of the night, the host (or website) then gathers all the scores and if that same person wanted to meet you, your contact information would then be exchanged.

There are currently only 2 dating sites in the category. I added the Lavalife review because, at the beginning of the summer Lavalife started to offer online virtual speed dating nightly at 9 PM (use to be 8 PM) to its members (see Story). HurryDate is a new dating site which we reviewed specifically for this category. They offer both online and offline speed dating events and parties plus a dating website where members can go after the event to further communicate with their matches.

For more information about what Speed Dating is all about, visit our Speed Dating Services category.

To find out more about the dating services currently listed in this new category, read our review of Lavalife and our review of HurryDate.