In a hurry to find love? Try speed dating
Looking for love in all the wrong places? Last week, Indiana University Media Relations staffers Ken Kingery and Nicole Roales -- both first year graduate students -- took matters into their own hands and spent one evening at a graduate student speed dating event at the Indiana Memorial Union. The night included free snacks and the opportunity to date more than 30 bachelors or bachelorettes. In honor of Valentine's Day, Ken and Nicole relate their experiences and offer a bit of commentary about their dozen dates.
Nicole's Take: Fun -- but try enduring nearly 30 dates in less than three hours
Two minutes. It's the length of time we are supposed to spend brushing our teeth. Two minutes sometimes felt like two days when I went speed dating for the first time last week. I was shocked at the turnout among the straight daters -- 30 men and 34 women showed up to find love, or at least a date, for Valentine's Day.
Speed dating events are held across the country, and the time spent on each date ranges from a couple of minutes to 10 or more minutes. The event I attended lasted more than three hours. All the women lined up on one side of several tables scrunched together, while the men sat across from them and rotated one seat over every two minutes. After going on a "date" with each man, you're given the option of writing his name down. If you both write each other's names down, then it's a match and the event coordinators send contact information to the potential couple. The concept is great, but after three hours, my throat was dry and the novelty of meeting new people began to wear off.
I had no expectations for the night. Speed dating is hit or miss. You can get lucky and find dozens of potential dates in one night, or walk out with none. When I heard we'd talk to each potential candidate for two minutes, I thought that may not be enough time. But after the event started, I realized quickly that two minutes were -- at times -- far too long to talk to someone.
My first few two-minute dates were disappointing. One of the first men who sat across from me said he'd come to the event for the free food. I thought, "Oh, great!" I tend toward the serious side, so this response was exactly the opposite of what I had hoped to hear.
Some speed dating events have an age range for participants. This event had no such stipulation, which meant that I was sometimes talking to a man in his early 30s and other times I was talking to a first-year graduate student who was 23. At 28, age doesn't matter to me, but maturity does. My very last date told me he wanted to meet someone younger than himself. He proudly declared that he'd just turned 24. Guess I had no chance there! Although the age range among dates wasn't too impressive, it was refreshing to have a room full of intelligent and diverse dates.
The longest two minutes of the evening -- by far -- occurred when I sat across from a guy who was wearing sweat pants and smelled a bit ripe. Perhaps he'd just worked out -- I don't know. But I can definitely say it wasn't a turn-on for me.
I asked each date a standard question: what do you do in your free time? By the end of the night, I was getting tired of asking the same question all the time, but it at least gave me a clue about what the man across from me was like. I was dismayed at some of the responses (such as "hanging out and going to the bars" or "sleep"), although it made eliminating the guy much easier. Some of the men had really good answers, like hiking and attending IU Jacobs School of Music events.
Speed dating is an easy way to meet dozens of potential dates in one evening. It's great for someone who is busy or doesn't feel like getting off the couch to find love. But it can also be the perfect way to dash all your hopes if you get zero matches. No matter what though, it is a guaranteed way to have fun for a couple of hours, and there is something thrilling about meeting dozens of new people in a span of several hours.
By the end of the night, I'd had fun. I had written four names down, but I hadn't found anyone I was extremely excited about seeing again. The next day, I was informed that I had no matches but had three who picked me though I didn't pick them. My curiosity got the better of me, and I've e-mailed them. Who knows? Maybe sometimes two minutes just isn't long enough.
Ken's Take: Fun -- but hard to find the qualities I desire
If, as Ryan Reynolds says in National Lampoon's Van Wilder, a first date is an interview, then speed dating is an audio résumé. The question then becomes, how long is your résumé?
At first I was disappointed to learn that the time we would be spending with each potential partner had been reduced from five minutes to two. That is, until I realized that 34 women at five minutes each would take at least three hours, and we were already running a half-hour late.
And it turned out that two minutes was all that was needed. It even turned out to be too long in some cases.
I came to the graduate speed dating event with no expectations, except to find no more than 20 other graduate students actually there. I was surprised to find over 60. The group was as diverse as the Indiana University graduate programs are. There was no shortage of international students, 30-somethings and 20-somethings, from all different programs and walks of life.
I soon found the most important part of the event is the group mingling before the event. For about a half-hour, all the speed daters talked to each other in a lounge setting while enjoying cheese and wine samplings. This was my chance to take stock and locate my priorities. But I didn't realize it at the time. Because of time restrictions, the event ended an hour late and yet I only got through two-thirds of the women there.
Did I miss my dream date? I'll never know, but I wish I had picked a better starting point to maximize the number of women I met that I found immediately attractive. It's not that I'm superficial, but if there's zero attraction, there's zero chance.
After the mingling I found myself actually excited to begin the process. The night started off quickly -- I met a couple of women I rather enjoyed talking to and wished we had more than a couple of minutes. But it was all downhill from there.
I found the diversity of the event to actually be a downfall. There were many graduate students who were over 30, a little too much of an age gap for a 23-year-old, and a lot of women with thick accents. It wouldn't have been a problem except that 60 people talking at once in a confined space makes for a difficult auditory experience.
After five "dates" my enthusiasm waned, and my mouth became dry. I eventually began sticking to the same basic questions about the qualities I find most important on a résumé. The initial attractiveness question being answered immediately, I then probed mainly into hobbies.
Skipping superficial questions such as hometown, undergraduate degree and current studies, I shot straight for the important questions. Is this the type of woman who will go hiking, canoeing and running with me? Do we enjoy the same taste in movies, music and television? Will she roll her eyes at me in the fall when I spend Saturdays and Sundays watching football, or will she be that one girl at every party wearing the jersey and screaming louder than me?
In the end, I found I had a fun night, even though I only wrote down three names. It seems like a decent way of meeting people. You can fill an entire couple week's worth of dates, or come up empty-handed.
Either way, I found the experience more encouraging than online dating, which I have yet to partake in. It seems to me that while speed dating may be an artificial way of meeting people, at least you are out of your house and actually meeting them in person.
I'd do it again, but on a smaller scale, with a more controlled variety of potential matches, and a bottle of water.