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Lanie's Articles  |   Essays From M.H Borden

Thinking on Your Seat

Many clients have asked me what my opinion is of speed dating. My usual answer is that one should try everything one is comfortable doing in order to cast a wide net and maximize one’s chances of finding the right person. Even though about half the adult population is single, people have to be proactive in their search. Nudging the universe might be a good mantra for singles.

The operative word is “comfortable,” of course. When I was single and looking, a friend suggested speed dating and I politely declined. Remembering my name on some days can seem a challenge, let alone sizing someone up or being sized up in 5 minutes. Can this stranger possibly know why I like Middlemarch at first glance? The concept seemed appalling, kind of like the Sesame Street instant kind of learning.

But Sesame Street has its many pluses and so, of course, does Speed Dating. The people who attend have put some money down and are making the effort to show up somewhere. Unlike Internet Dating, this is a way to meet real people in real time who have taken the trouble to possibly meet you.

For those who may not know, according to Wikipedia, Speed Dating is described this way:

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 his or her face.

I decided to go right to the horse’s mouth and check in with Steve Vozzolo, a lovely man who runs The Single Event, www.thesingleevent.com , a huge network of singles in CT. Steve has various activities running, it seems most all the time, including Speed Dating.

I asked Steve what he suggests that folks talk about when they sit down with these possible future beloveds and here is his list:
1. What kind of work do you do?

2. Do you like your job?

3. What town do you live in?

4. What is your favorite leisure activity?

5. Do you have any pets?

6. What is your favorite sport?

7. What kind of music do you like?

8. What is your favorite movie?

9. What is your favorite book?

10. What do you do on your days off from work?

11. What is your happiest childhood memory?

12. What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

13. What is the craziest thing you ever did?

14. What are your main goals in life?

15. If you could live anywhere you wanted, where would it be?

16. What are you passionate about?

17. What makes you unique?

I wonder and need to ask if he gives them this list before they meet because thinking from your seat on the spur of the moment when you are nervous might not be so easy. I do like most of the questions, though, which might be fun questions for any first encounter with a stranger, because the questions are not overly personal and certainly don’t sound like a job interview. Firing personal questions at strangers is definitely a dating “no-no.”

I also asked him the following:

1. Tips/advice you might give people?
Relax and be yourself... Come to the event expecting to meet a lot of nice people and have a good time... Keep in mind that the concept of "speed dating" is designed to give you the opportunity to create a little rapport with "your date" and get "a match"... Learning more of the particulars about each other's lives comes with follow up emails and phone conversations... And, if the follow up emails and conversations go well, by actually going out together...

2. Booboos you have observed?
The most common mistake people make is to approach the "conversation/date" like it is a job interview... This can create an exchange of questions and answers instead of a real conversation... While it is understandable that there are certain things that people want to know about "their date," such as employment status, whether or not there are children in the picture, interests outside of work, the most important thing is whether or not "a connection" is made in the conversation...

3. Who seems to do well and why?
It goes without saying that there has to be an attraction for people to connect... People who are relaxed and have a good sense of humor seem to do well ... A balance must be struck between sharing openly about yourself and demonstrating a genuine interest in your "date"...

I also agree with Steve, as I just said, about not sounding like you are on a job interview and the idea of going slowly and getting to know someone over time.
As to initial attraction etc. etc.? And making judgments in the blink of an eye? Well stay tuned....

In the next Berkshires Best issue I would like to comment in some depth about Speed Dating, since I don’t have a 2-page Berkshire Best spread yet…

Hopefully before you show up for such an event you will have more tools in your speed dating kit from your friendly matchmaker, Lanie!

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