Pros and cons of speed dating in New York: personal experience
Speed dating has become a real sensation and has already attracted many participants. This innovative idea redefines dating in a city where time is of the essence and provides new ways to find your soulmate. Amber Ryken – a reporter for the American magazine The Independent – shared her impressions of participating in speed dating in New York. What follows is a first-person story.
I spent the period from 20 to 25 years in the dating world and came to the conclusion that I met most of my ex-boyfriends through the Internet. That’s not to say that random encounters didn’t happen, because I’ve had quite a few awkward and flirtatious encounters with 25-year-old guys in a bar. Such cases usually ended in one of two ways: an uninteresting first date or a complete cessation of communication. After each such experience, I returned to the habit of flipping through dating apps.
And now it’s time to try something new that I dreaded at 19: speed dating.
Like me, many American singles are overly familiar with online dating. According to a Pew Research Center survey last year, three in 10 adults said they used a dating site or app, with almost half of the respondents aged 18 to 29.
After the last five years of online dating, I no longer understand how apps work. Although I hit it off over my mutual hatred of American cheese—thanks to my question about my fear of Mac & Cheese—our conversations rarely lasted long, and we usually didn’t meet in person. It was my unabashed frustration with the apps that made me take a serious look at the speed dating offer that I had previously ignored.
“Sex and the City” and dating circles
A few days before I decided to try it, I accidentally watched an episode of Sex and the City about speed dating. In this episode, lawyer Miranda Hobbs, played by Cynthia Nixon, met a series of men who each had an 8-minute date with her. After Miranda explained what she was doing, the men turned away or showed a complete lack of interest. Ultimately, the show’s negative associations with speed dating and seemingly sexist reactions to working women made me wary and caused some anxiety about my own date.
Luckily, my speed date in New York – which was called the “Quickies” – was nothing like Miranda’s. At the event, all participants gathered in one room in a bar on the Lower East Side, where they moved around and got to know each other. Instead of immediately starting a conversation about our work, each five-minute date began with a question. One of the first questions was: “Have you ever received a gift from someone with whom you had a “situationship”?
“Situationship” is a term that is used to describe an informal relationship between two people who spend time together, date, and sometimes even act like a couple, but have not defined their status as official partners. It can be somewhere between a friendship and a romantic relationship.
“And you kept the present?” I turned to the 35-year-old man I had chatted with for a bit before the event and asked him to answer a question first. Although we both said that we never received gifts during such interactions, I shared an embarrassing moment when I gave a stuffed toy to a man I dated for only two months on his birthday.
The story was short, so we had about three minutes left on the date, and that’s when we moved on to talking about our work. He told me that he was a CMO for some tech company and asked me about my career as a journalist – it was just the end of the circle and he added with a smile, “Are you going to write about me?” I laughed and said, “Perhaps.”
The question for the next date was: “What is your secret crush?” In response, I said, “Taylor Swift.” Sitting next to me, a 26-year-old guy who claimed to run his own business replied, “Reality TV.” We barely had time to discuss additional details in our responses, so in less than a minute of our date, he told me how much he enjoys running his own company. When our time was almost up, he got my number and then texted me asking to meet for coffee, which I never answered.
Unlike traditional “speed dating” where you list the people you would like to exchange contacts with, this event is more about self-confidence. The 35-year-old marketing director I spoke with earlier in the evening found me later to ask for my phone number, which pleased me. He texted me that same night asking me to date and I accepted.
It may not be a panacea, but it’s definitely worth a try.
Can I recommend speed dating to anyone? While I would say yes, it really depends on your current mood and attitude towards dating. I was at the point where I got so tired of apps that I gave up dating in New York entirely. Even though the dates were short, I could pretty quickly figure out if there was chemistry between me and the other members. And if it wasn’t there, my partner and I just moved on to the next date, without any hard feelings. It was also a relief to meet people I found attractive in person rather than through a photo, text, or ambiguous sentence.
After all, everyone was at the bar that night for the same reason: to make connections, whether romantic or not. Even though I don’t see myself in a serious relationship with anyone I’ve met through speed dating, I’m glad to know that romance doesn’t have to start through a screen. It’s so nice, in fact, that I would go on speed dates again, because who knows who you might meet next.
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