Coming soon I will be writing a article for Daily Focal which will be based on my thoughts and experience of speed dating. With that in mind I though this would be a great opportinuy to repost a blog entry from over a year ago, especially since I posted this to an old blog feed (not this one). Enjoy and visit Daily Focal for my upcoming articles.
In the last few weeks I've decided I would like to put myself back out there and have, on recommendation from Rachel, joined a couple of dating apps and signed up for a singles night.
The apps are pretty hit and miss in my opinion so far. I've heard horror stories and success stories, so that, I guess, reinforces that view. Additionally I enjoy face to face interaction much more. I feel that I learn more about the person I am with and gain a better feeling for if there is any sort of connection when you are physically in each others presence.
For this reason I was interested and excited to attend a Match.com event in Southampton with Rachel. We went along and had dinner (in the same venue as the event) before the event started. This allowed us to see the first few people go up and know we wouldn't be the first to enter. We tried to see who was going up to the function room to gage a few things about the people attending, like attractiveness, age, gender. This was fairly unsuccessful, we could see that some people had gone up but we couldn't see enough to tell what they where like. This was an open event, so there could be mainly 20, 30, 50, 80 year olds, we didn't know. In a strange way that made me more nervous and more relaxed at the same time. Its hard to explain.
About 20 minutes after the event started we made our way over and signed in with the host. At this point we were given a drinks card, there was something about finding someone (of the opposite sex) with a matching card to get a free drink, but we quickly saw you could exchange them for a drink without matching them. So I'm not sure if it didn't matter, or maybe we would have gotten a better drink if we'd matched it? I really don't know.
* I have since worked out, I think, that these are just conversation starters. It makes no difference to your drink.
For a while we just talked to each other, as everyone else was notability older than us (minimum 15 years older) and that wasn't something we were looking for. After about 15 minutes there was a steady influx of people. Somehow we created a group of 5 and chatted as a small group for a while. Sometimes with multiple conversations at once.
It was really nice to just chat to people and enjoy being sociable with new people. Through I evening I mainly spoke to two girls, April and Julianna. While Rach spoke to a couple of guys. It was great to be there with someone, but be happy to talk to different people / groups. I guess it made me feel more comfortable and relaxed.
The two girls I spoke to where friends and where really interesting to talk to. We discussed a few things throughout the evening, I did get distracted a couple of times with tying to work out their safe, or escape phase (which I managed to get by the end of the evening using my skills of deduction). At one stage in the evening I did look around the room and see that there where quite a few people at the event now and thought maybe I should 'mingle' more. However I was enjoying the conversation and company I currently had so opted to stay where I was. Occasionally someone would come over and sit with the three of us, but they would also leave after a short while. The next time I looked around the room had started to empty out, more people where leaving and the bar was shutting. It felt like it had been 10 minutes, I can only assume it had been much longer.
I really enjoyed the event and was glad that Rach had suggested it. I continue to chat with April, we've even been on two dates.
Shortly after the singles night we also signed up for a Speed Dating event. This time Rach's sister, Helen would be coming with us too.
I was looking forward to the speed dating to see how different it was to the open, free, Match event. This event was booked through Speed Dater and had a £13 booking fee. Now I've mentioned the money, I feel this is an appropriate time to mention one of the differences here. Attending the 'open' mingle type of event before was great to attend with someone of the opposite gender. Speed Dating however, not as much. You are paying to meet people, so what is the point of going with people you already know? For me, I really like these girls so spending time with them is a joy and something I look forward to. However, I was definitely feeling that I had two wasted dates, which equated to £2.60 of my booking free. Ok, I've said it now I'll let that go. They really are lovely girls 😀
This time on arrival we grabbed drinks and made our way up to the event area straight away. There were a couple of people there already, but a majority hadn't arrived yet.
As people began to arrive there was a visible difference in the attire people where wearing, particularly I thought the guys. Having gone with the smart casual standard shirt and jeans, I was interested to see Gary turn up in a suit and tie combo and another chap wearing t-shirt jeans and carrying a bag. A couple of the girls seemed to have come together and where dressed in similar fashion, so there wasn't as much of a difference in their attire.
Rach, Helen and myself sat down and chatted for about 20 minutes. At this point the event host provided an overview of the evening and how the dates would work. Ladies would sit at a table for the evening with men rotating tables every four minutes, the four minutes would be sounded by a bell. We had been provided with the scorecard, which we could make notes on following each date. Along with ticking if we were interested in dating this person, being friends or not interested.
Once we started, you start on the table that matches your number, so for example girl 3 starts with boy 3. I immediately enjoyed the experience and talking to the different girls that where there. I found it hilarious that the host put Rachel and Helen next to each other. Meaning each could hear the others conversation. Meeting the family on the first date, within four minutes, still makes me chuckle. Personally I was not keen on the set up of the room, I didn't feel the space was optimised and some dates where very close to others and then two where in there own space. It just seemed a little strange. I did not seem to have a chance to make any 'notes' as I went around. I managed with just noting down name and table number.
As an experience it was different to what I had expected. I though you'd be able to chat with people, but you may need to think of a topic or question if the conversation stalled. However I found the opposite, it was easy to talk to everyone. But with the time going so fast, it became important to move the conversation on to other topics sometimes, or you learnt nothing about the person other than a hobby or their job. The event as a whole seemed to pass very quickly which I suppose shows I had a good time. We hung around after the event finished with two guys (Chris and Mike) and two girls (Emma and Tracey) for a little while, having a couple of drinks and chatting about our thoughts on the evening. I retain the belief that these are great events for meeting and chatting to new people. I think the pressure comes when you go hoping to meet someone that night.
I think the two events are very different, and both are worth attending. Speed Dating is good for confidence building because you have to talk to everyone at the event. However it can be restrictive if you want to spend more that a couple of minutes with someone. Then you really need to catch them at the end of the dating and chat a bit more. The open events, such as Match, are nice relaxing evenings out and you can attend without the same pressure that may come with speed dating, however (again) you do have to make the effort to approach and talk to people. No one is going to ring a bell a say its your turn with that girl / guy you like the look of.