Speed Dating: Tips to Ensure a Fun Time

It has been a little over a year since I went speed dating for the first time. I was 28 years old and my friend talked me into joining her. It turned out to be an interesting experience and more fun than I imagined, so it might come as no surprise that I tried it two more times before the year was out. None of those outings led to anything serious, save for a friend of the female persuasion – we’re apt to take those new to Edmonton under our wings. Thus, I found myself thinking about the next step.

I’m now 29. I celebrated my champagne birthday in 2014. All of my friends know I’m single and willing to mingle, but here’s the problem: no one has single male friends to set me up with. The friend that dragged me along to speed dating has found someone for herself, so I’m feeling like a bit of a lone wolf. Now, I’m not saying that I must have a man in my life in order to be happy. On the contrary. But, hey, the notion of having a guy who’s there for me is still nice.

This led me to my latest attempt at the 5-minute date. I’m not saying it worked, but this was my one and only stab at it without a friendly sidekick.

Quite honestly, it had been a crazy week and I was running on fumes. However, I prettied myself up, put a smile on my face and headed to the venue. I couldn’t find the host when I arrived, so I grabbed a drink at the bar and then made fast friends with a couple of ladies that I quickly pinpointed as other attendees. Neither had ever gone speed dating before, so I talked to them about my previous experiences. Trying to dole out advice when you obviously haven’t had the best success yourself is kind of hard, yet people still want to know. I understand that mentality because I’ve learned from trial and error, and I know you can probably prep yourself for a better outcome.

Here are my tips for speed dating (some can even be applied to first dates in general):

1) Be yourself. You want the people you meet to like you for who you are, not who you’re pretending to be.

2) Don’t take things too seriously. This is a first meeting! Yes, you want to make a good impression, but you may come across as stiff and uptight if all you care about is finding “the one” and you don’t ease up a bit. In fact, you’ll probably scare the other person off.

3) Put some effort into your appearance, but refrain from looking like you’re extremely high maintenance. Keep things business casual in terms of dress.

4) Be polite. Shake the person’s hand and repeat his name when he introduces himself.

5) Smile because it’s more welcoming, and make eye contact.

6) Don’t be intimidated. This is especially the case when speed dating because you’re essentially seeing the rest of the competition. However, remember that you’re just as awesome as everyone else there and that you have a lot to offer as well.

7) Know that you will have to be “on” for probably two hours at speed dating, which can seem daunting. But, it goes by so much faster than you think it will, and you’ll find that the conversation and the laughs come fairly easily.

8) The speed dating company says to avoid asking what people do for a living. I understand their thinking. Not everyone is in love with their job. Yet, it seems to inevitably come up anyway, so just go with it. And, if you’re uncomfortable talking about it, try to steer the conversation elsewhere.

9) I never really do this, but maybe think of a couple of conversation starters beforehand. My go to topics are: where he’s from, where he’s traveled and probably something about food.

10) On the other side of that equation, do NOT come in with a script prepared. I’ve sat through a meeting like that and it was a very forced conversation. The guy was looking to check his boxes and that was about it. Conversation should feel natural.

11) Keep the conversation light. You have five to eight minutes to feel this person out. Try to get a sense of their personality.

12) If a couple of minutes go by and you’re not feeling that interested, DON’T zone out. It’s rude. Stay friendly, you’ll make it through. Also, concentrate on the conversation you’re having, not what those next to you are talking about.

13) Avoid getting your hopes up ahead of time. Keep expectations realistic. You might not meet your ideal soulmate and that’s okay.

14) View this as an opportunity to network and make friends.

15) Try not to divulge too much personal information to every single date. This is just for safety’s sake.

16) Sometimes it can get loud in the venue, especially when the space is small. You literally may have people sitting just inches away from you, so you’re going to have to speak up. Make sure to keep hydrated, so you don’t lose your voice.

17) Write the person’s name down on the card as soon as you meet. Make a few notes if you’re not certain they’re a “yes” or “no” for you and go back to those later. However, I’d suggest not leaving your decision too long because it’s easy to mix up names, faces and conversations when you’re meeting so many people (usually 10 to 12, but I’ve seen more) in one night.

18) You’re going to meet a lot of people – it’s like The Bachelorette during the first episode of the season – so you may need to step out of your comfort zone. If it eases the situation, bring a friend you know can reassure you.

19) I wasn’t always the most outgoing person, so these types of events aren’t necessarily my favourite. But, try going it alone at least once because it does push you to converse with others. It’s like dating practice and the confidence you’ll probably attain from making it through the situation will most likely help in other facets of your life.
I hope that these tips help in your dating endeavours. After all, if you’re going to put yourself out there, make the process as painless and entertaining as possible for yourself.

Looking to go speed dating? Check out these local organizers:

Fastlife – an international company that specializes in speed dating and singles events

Rendezvous Club – North America’s premier singles company

Troop of Foxes – Alberta based speed dating hosted at Red Star Pub. Watch their Twitter page (@troopoffoxes) for updates on their next event.

Speed Dating: An 8-Minute Numbers Game?

I’m 28 years old and currently single. The majority of my friends are coupled, engaged, married or starting families. They don’t know anyone they can set me up with and I work in an office that is primarily filled with women or people who are quite a bit older than me. I’ve never been the type of person who frequents the bar to meet people and that’s not changing anytime soon. What’s a girl to do?

I’ve tried online dating like so many others are inclined to do nowadays, but it has never really worked for me. So, when my friend, who has also tried the online thing, asked if I would be willing to go speed dating with her, I thought now was as good a time as any to mix it up. Life isn’t throwing guys my way through the usual means anyway, so why not give it a shot, right?

We did a little bit of research and saw that events through Fastlife.ca catered to specific themes (university educated, travel lovers, professionals, tall men, etc.) and decided that we would wait to see if we could find a deal through a discount voucher site (another friend of mine had done that before). The usual cost of the majority of their events is $59.99, which is a hefty price when you’re not really sure that it’s going to lead to anything; if we could save some money, it would help to convince us it was a good idea. Plus, if we had a good time, the extra cash could be put towards going to another date night in the future. Eventually we lucked out and found ourselves a coupon through Groupon (my go to website). The stars were aligned; we were on our way to potentially meeting some new people, new guys.

The Venue - L1 Lounge at WEM. We took up the left side.

The Venue – L1 Lounge at WEM. We took up the left side.

Arriving a bit before the 7:30 pm start time, we entered L1 Lounge at West Edmonton Mall and had absolutely no idea what to do. The host for the evening hadn’t arrived, so we popped back out and waited a bit before returning. When we came back about 10 minutes later, the hostess was there and greeted us, letting us know where everyone would be seated later on and invited us to grab a drink at the bar to unwind until all participants showed up.

My friend and I were the first ones there, so we each ordered a beverage and perched ourselves on a couple stools, watching as various men and women trickled in. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit we were sizing people up a little bit. After all, the girls were our competition and the guys were the reason why we were there.

The whole thing didn’t even begin until about eight o’clock, but it was a whirlwind of 12 mini dates. While it was a good time and it breezed by (before I knew it, it was over and it was already 10 pm), it was also a tad draining. Thankfully, though, it wasn’t like the movies tend to depict it.

I will say that some of the “dates” were great – conversation flowed well or I could feel an immediate connection – and others were a bit strained or awkward, feeling as if the eight minutes dragged. If you think about it, there is a lot riding on that first impression. Based on the experience of my friend and I, here are some tips for the guys: never talk about your ex, refrain from getting too touchy-feely, avoid rehearsing what you’re going to say to us, and don’t steer the whole conversation. The time we spend together, although short, should feel organic. Many of the guys were very nice, some a bit shy, a couple were somewhat arrogant, lots were engineers, all of them were just hoping, like we were, to meet someone great. If we liked them, we were supposed to check off their name on our cards. The host would go through them afterwards to figure out our matches and then notify us.

Ultimately, we ended up making a new girlfriend who is relatively new to the city, and, naturally, we invited her to join us for dessert after the event closed up shop and all the speed daters dispersed. We chatted about how it all went as girls are apt to do and came to the realization that there are plenty of us in the same boat. All of the ladies looked like great catches. We’re not sure why it’s so hard to find someone we can connect with, but we’re willing to take our time to find the right person. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun in the meantime. One friend pondered why they didn’t make it larger where would we meet twenty people instead of a dozen, but my response to that was that it’s so overwhelming. We already had a hard enough time recalling all the conversations we had that night and differentiating the guys from one another after we left, let alone adding another eight people to the mix.

Our treat for the evening. The dessert trio at Moxie's!

Our treat for the evening. The dessert trio at Moxie’s!

However, I posed this question to my friends over our dessert: despite some complaints about some of the guys and the event itself, would you ever go speed dating again? At first it was a resounding “no” from both of my friends, but slowly one changed her mind. Initially, I said I might choose to take part once more, but after being told we would receive our mutual matches the following day and not actually hearing anything for three days, I thought the service could have been better.

In the end, I received two matches, but after such a delay to find out who they were, I think many of us already forgot who we had spoken to. The details melded together and it became a big blur, at least for me. The postponed notice of our matches took away from the momentum of the initial contact, and we started to think maybe we didn’t get any matches at all. I was the one who decided to reach out to my matches first (it’s time for the ladies to take charge), but I feel that with e-mail as the only point of contact, it becomes too easy for someone to disregard the matches and move on without attempting to see where an additional meeting could lead. In my case, one of my matches told me he doesn’t like to go out with more than one person at a time, and since he already had plans to meet someone else from the same event, he wasn’t planning to see me. I don’t know what you think about that, but my first thought was, “this is the first time you’re going out with this other person since the event. Based on an eight minute conversation, you’re putting all your eggs in one basket and missing out on other opportunities.” But, really, it’s his loss, not mine. I went into this without any major expectations, had a fun night, checked off guys that aren’t usually my “type” (not that I have one), but had good conversation with, and just left it at that. I figured the worst that could happen is that they didn’t feel the same. I had no attachments yet, so I wouldn’t be broken up over the outcome.

Would I recommend going to something like this with a friend or two? It’s a tough call. If you like the idea of having a friend there for support and to talk to about the whole ordeal afterwards, then, yes, I’d say bring someone along. But, if you can be the jealous type, I’d tell you that it might be best to go on your own. It would be terrible if you were excited about someone you met, but your friend was matched instead, or perhaps if you both received the same matches, but it didn’t work out for one of you. It’s really a judgement call. Although, no matter what, you have to take it all in stride. You can’t invest everything in this one instance because life doesn’t always go the way you expect it to. I enjoyed going with my friend as the discussion alone was worth it.

The index page of FastLife.ca

The index page of FastLife.ca

With regards to the event coordination, I would say that, for the regular cost of $60, not having a drink included is unfortunate; also nacho chips with no toppings and just sides of salsa and sour cream were included, but not placed out until the very end. They weren’t enticing enough to keep participants there. In fact, in my opinion, FastLife was a bit cheap considering the amount of money each person spent on the evening. Know that if you decide to attend one of these events, there might be extra costs associated. I may try this avenue again because I wouldn’t mind seeing what kind of guys show up at the other themed evenings. However, I would definitely seek out another deal or wait for FastLife to offer one (they do on occasion) as I think it’s too expensive to go for full price.

At the end of the day, dating nowadays seems like it’s a numbers game. You have to put yourself out there if you want to find someone you’re willing to start a relationship with. Some people are lucky to find their other half early in life and for others it takes a little more time. If anything, going to events like this, I might make a new circle of friends and I’m always up for that.

If you’re considering speed dating, remember that it’s all in good fun. You have to go in with an open mind and just be ready to take a chance. Hopefully, you’ll have a fun time, maybe make a friend or two and come out of it with some good stories to tell.