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In the game of dating, speed dating and set up dates have been taboo for the longest time. Even for me, a Gen Y-er. I remember recovering from my first break up by plunging myself straight into the dating world and getting myself unwanted attention – having my good guy friend professing his feelings for me was a case of #sorrynotsorry, but I was not interested at all. I wish I did not have to be so brutal, but when the need arose I became the worst he could have imagined.
Jumping into another relationship was definitely the lowest on the priority list; leading the life I never had while I was in a relationship was at the top. As if the planets had aligned and Cupid decided to take me on a ride, the option of speed dating opened up for me.
Usually, a date would be tea and a movie, or just lunch. Depending on what works, I would advise starting off with one without too much forced interaction, just to get the hang of things. At 23, I suppose this was an experience scarier than trying to pass my driving test for the first time in the skimpiest skirt ever. The only person I knew was the organizer who was married, and then it’s just us girls against a whole table full of men. This is what you should know before a speed-dating session.
1. Know thy enemy and half the battle is won
Generally, there are three groups of participants: The purpose driven, the kaypoh, and the cannot-be-bothered. I suppose I fell into the second category. I was curious about how this would work and was open to the possibilities of friendships thereafter. It was easy to suss the first type out – those people dive straight into the 5Cs, partner qualities and personal information like landed or HDB. Chill, guys. Enjoy the 15 minutes as a get-to-know-you session.
2. Know the rules
The standard operating procedure would be to take a seat, and wait for the alert to find a partner, then switch partners by the next 15 minutes. There will always be that one candidate that makes all the girls’ hearts go bip-a-bop, but spare a thought for the next one in line and keep to the allocated time! There is always the chance to get his number after the game to reignite the chemistry. But until then, keep it fair, ladies.
Candidates who are “in a relationship”, “in a complicated relationship”, or “married” should never flout the rules and participate, even if you are doing a friend a favour.
3. First impressions count
I suppose the above applies to almost all instances, speed dating aside. Ladies, please dress to kill, but do not overdress. Be comfortable in what you are wearing. I would advise against ridiculously high heels and micro minis because sometimes there will be games involved and physical activities too. Baring your embarrassing gaffes all on the first “date” may not be the most ideal. Same goes for the men – singlets, flip flops and berms do not count as “smart casual”.
4. Pretence is a mark of respect
This is not to say you should lead people on, but at least for the 10 minutes before the fork and glass collide and cause a symphony, try to be interested. The last thing any nervous guy needs is an uninterested party folding her arms, scrutinising her nails, or at best, gives monosyllabic answers.
I have heard the excuses, “I was arrowed to come”, “I’m just accompanying a friend”, or “I’m not here to look for a partner” – ouch. Respect yourself as an individual and the other party too because you will never know how your paths will ever cross again. Life is funny and cruel sometimes.
5. It’s not the be-all and end-all of dating
Since that encounter, I continued to attend another handful of such events before graduating and deciding that speed dating had a lifespan. It is novel and should be enjoyed whilst the experience is new. The unfortunate result is that sometimes the participants are so hardcore, you end up meeting the same “speed date” over and over again.
I got better with subsequent speed dating sessions and learned to even enjoy myself. Though the biggest takeaway was not a desired partner, it taught me that putting yourself out there to date is an opportunity to be experimental – there are various ways to expand one’s social circle and speed dating is just one of them!
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