November 16, 2014
Speed dating has become a fast and efficient way for people to not only meet a partner but to see what people are interested in and how they quickly match up with others of like mind. Whereas online dating takes time, patience, and often leads to disappointment, speed dating allows participants to connect and quickly decide. It's about relying on one's instincts and in its own way increases psychic abilities. Through the decades I have read many clients who met their partners through speed dating.
Speed dating is a formalized matchmaking process or dating system whose purpose is to encourage people to meet a large number of new people. Its origins are credited to Rabbi Yaacov Deyo of Aish HaTorah, originally as a way to help Jewish singles meet and marry. "SpeedDating", as a single word, is a registered trademark of Aish HaTorah. "Speed dating", as two separate words, is often used as a generic term for similar events.
The first speed-dating event took place at Pete's Cafe in Beverly Hills in late 1998. Soon afterward, several commercial services began offering secular round-robin dating events across the United States.
By 2000, speed dating had really taken off, perhaps boosted by its portrayal in shows such as Sex and the City as something that glamorous people did. Supporters argue that speed dating saves time, as most people decide if they are romantically compatible very quickly, and first impressions are often permanent.
Men and women are rotated to meet each other over a series of short "dates", usually lasting from 3 to 8 minutes depending on the organization running the event. At the end of each interval, the organizer rings a bell or clinks a glass to signal the participants to move on to the next date. At the end of the event participants submit to the organizers a list of who they would like to provide their contact information to. If there is a match, contact information is forwarded to both parties. Contact information cannot be traded during the initial meeting, in order to reduce pressure (especially on women) to accept or reject a suitor to their face.
These events typically require advance registration, often an online prepayment by credit card. However, they may accept a few walk-ins when needed to balance the gender ratio. Some services make use of wait-lists when signing up to strive for exactly the same number of men and women, while others have a more "party" atmosphere and only aim for an approximately matching number. There are many speed dating events now in the UK and the US. Many of these simply specify an age range for ladies and gentlemen; sometimes a slightly older range is specified for men. On the other hand, many organizers offer niche events such as nights for graduates only, gays and lesbians, older men with younger women and vice versa, book lovers, ethnic events, and of course the original niche event, religious affiliation.
Speed dating has some obvious advantages over most other venues for meeting people, such as bars, discotheques, etc. in that everybody is purportedly there to meet someone, they are grouped into compatible age ranges, it is time-efficient, and the structured interaction eliminates the need to introduce oneself. And unlike many bars, a speed dating event will by necessity be quiet enough for people to talk comfortably. Participants can come alone without feeling out of place; alternatively it is something that women who like to go out in groups can do together.
Because the matching itself happens after the event, people do not feel pressured to select or reject each other in person. On the other hand, feedback and gratification are delayed as participants must wait a day or two for their results to come in.
The time limit ensures that a participant will not be stuck with a boorish match for very long, and prevents participants from monopolizing one another's time. On the other hand, a couple that decides they are incompatible early on will have to sit together for the duration of the round.
Most speed dating events match people at random, and participants will meet different "types" that they might not normally talk to in a club. On the other hand, the random matching precludes the various cues, such as eye contact, that people use in bars to preselect each other before chatting them up.
There have been several studies of the round-robin dating systems themselves, as well as studies of interpersonal attraction that are relevant to these events. Other studies found speed-dating data useful as a way to observe individual choices among random participants.
Several online dating services offer online speed dating where users meet online for video, audio or text chats. The advantage of online speed dating is that users can go on dates from home as it can be done from any internet enabled computer. The disadvantage is people do not actually meet one another.
A recent study at the University of Pennsylvania of multiple HurryDate speed dating events found that most people made their choices within the first three seconds of meeting. Furthermore, issues such as religion, previous marriages, and smoking habits were found to play much less of a role than expected.
A study in Edinburgh, Scotland showed that 45% of the women participants in a speed-dating event and 22% of the men had come to a decision within the first 30 seconds. It also found that dialogue concerning travel resulted in more matches than dialogue about films.
Malcolm Gladwell's book on split-second decision-making, Blink, introduces two professors at Columbia University who run speed-dating events. Drs. Sheena Iyengar and Raymond Fisman found, from having the participants fill out questionnaires, that what people said they wanted in an ideal mate did not match their unconscious preferences.
Olfaction and the MHC
A 1995 study at the University of Bern showed that women appear to be attracted to the smell of men who have different MHC profiles from their own, and that oral contraceptives reversed this effect. The MHC is a region of the human genome involved with immune function. Because parents with more diverse MHC profiles would be expected to produce offspring with stronger immune systems, dissimilar MHC may play a role in sexual selection. A speed "date" lasting several minutes should be long enough for the MHC hypothesis to come into play, provided the participants are seated close enough together.
Olfaction and Pheromones
The TV newsmagazine 20/20 once sent both a male and a female set of twins to a speed dating event. One of each set was wearing pheromones, and the ones wearing pheromones received more matches.
A 2014 study into the relative effects of preference versus opportunity in mate selection showed, while concluding that opportunity was more important than preference, that a woman's age is the single most important factor determining demand by men. Although it is less important for men, age is still a highly significant factor determining demand by women.
The same study found that a man's height had a significant impact upon his desirability, with a reduction in height causing a decrease in desirability at the rate of 5% per inch.
Studies of speed dating events generally show more selectivity among women than among men. For instance, the Penn study reported that the average man was chosen by 34% of the women and the average woman was chosen by 49% of the men.
Paper Bag Speed Dating - 2014
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