Recently, I have decided to explore the veritable feast that is the London speed dating scene. I must admit I was pretty sceptical about the whole venture, a room full of strangers speaking at each other does not the ideal evening make.
But, it is very rare in London to be able to meet and speak to new people. Let alone to meet 20. And so, I must admit (albeit reluctantly) that this is a logical way to meet somebody new.
However, I think the key to successful speed dating really does rely on a knowledge of the dos and don’ts. This was reaffirmed when I met several people who considered themselves veterans of the speed dating scene and yet were still not reaping any of the fruitful rewards. Meaning that there isn’t necessarily a correlation between experience and success. In this situation knowledge is power.
And so, in the interests of love (something we all deserve)- I have made a how to guide to speed dating
1. Go in pairs or a group.
This is safety in numbers in the literal and metaphorical sense.
Firstly, it is quite intimidating to go it alone. And this works two ways. Ironically, it is more intimidating when someone is flying solo. It gives off the impression that they are looking for love. Tonight.
Secondly (and more importantly) everyone’s biggest fears on these evenings is that will meet a weirdo or a creep. So going in a group sort of reassures people on at least a subconscious level that actually: you’re alright. Or at least this other person/people think you are. So pick your friend wisely.
2. Keep initial conversation light.
You have four minutes which actually goes surprisingly quickly. The least successful conversations I had were when people went too hard too soon. There was one guy who revealed he was looking for a wife in the first 20 seconds. A high risk strategy.
My most successful date opened with a game of noughts and crosses which was infinitely more memorable, and also acted as an ice breaker.
Avoid quickfire questions too. It’s not an interview or an interrogation. I overheard someone asking how much their date earned. Don’t do that.
3. Don’t be nervous.
Or at the very least don’t tell anyone you are nervous.
People like to feel that they are in a safe pair of hands and that will not happen if they have to spend the date rebuilding someone.
Smiling encouragingly and coaxing them through the conversation is not going to lead to love. Or even lust.
No-one wants to feel like someone’s life coach.
4. Protect your voice.
Drink. Not just the alcoholic type. It’s a long evening of talking essentially non-stop. You will need a drink to prevent you quite literally drying up.
People who insist of shouting instead of speaking should also take note. Firstly, because your date will feel like they are in a wind tunnel and secondly because it makes you the human equivalent of a spoiler- everyone has already heard your story before you’ve made it round to them.
5. Don’t set yourself too defined an objective.
[Tweet “Speed dating mentality – “Hope for the best, expect the worse””]This is perhaps the most important thing I observed; the people who had too high expectations for the evening seemed to go away the most disappointed.
It’s a bit like when you go for an interview; people can sense if you want it too much.
I reckon you should go with the ‘hope for the best, expect the worse’ mentality. As clichéd as it sounds the main thing is that you have fun. Anything else is a pleasant surprise.
So there you have it: my speed dating survival guide.