|FAST. FAST. FAST. With the advent of high technology, everything happens now in a sort of pass-and-shoot continuum. Does this mean you have to fall in love tomorrow or bypass the dating scene? Of course not! But maybe, it might not be a bad idea to jump-start the selection process for your would-be mate…
Speed dating is one such nifty means of addressing your social needs. This is actually a dating activity of Jewish origin where singles have seven 7-minute dates. It is an effective – and fast - way of finding The One. Through this smart dating mechanism, you need not unnecessarily invest your time, effort and emotion on go-nowhere entanglements (a.k.a. GONEs in Speed Dating jargon) and other similar dating pitfalls! It is a most apt, effective and popular phenomenon, fitting perfectly into marriage-minded singles’ (MMs) agenda. Gone are the interminable 3-hour dates where you can’t help but fidget and curse yourself for the umpteenth time why you relented and went out with your mother’s bestfriend’s niece/nephew!
Essentially, a man and woman are paired up in an appointment (the venue is usually pre-arranged by the dating service provider). They then have 7 minutes to talk, and are given the cue when it is time to move on to another table, where they have the chance to talk to another ‘date’. At the end of the activity, each participant is asked to fill out a card for each of the persons he or she has interacted with. Each person is then given their card tallies, and they are immediately informed of who are interested to date them further. 7 minutes? Yes, 7 precious minutes where each word you say, each non-verbal message you send, and each little move that you make counts! Hey, if you think this time frame is short, other speed dating events offer only 5 or 3 minutes per date.
Now let’s go to the serious stuff. Given that time is very precious, you need to know what things to say and what not to. The following is a very concise yet extremely helpful list of do’s and don’ts when talking during this activity. Remember, those 7 minutes are all you have… Go!
* Do not talk about family problems. There is a time and place for everything, and a fast 7-minute date is no occasion to do a ‘Dear Miss Abby’ episode. NO, he or she does not need to know NOW that you were molested as child. What you do need to do is give a positive impression while not straining yourself in trying to impress him/her. Talk about what you like to do as a hobby, the type of movies and music you like, favorite hang-out, etc. If you are pressed for details about ‘serious stuff’ like what you do and where you work or about family matters, delay disclosing the relevant details. (In some speed dating events, these questions are not even allowed.) As a precaution, do remember that you are talking to a stranger. On the lighter side, it doesn’t harm to project an image of mystery either.
* Do not talk about failed relationships in the past or other things that you resent doing. This is not confession time. Details about delinquent or reckless behavior (past or present) are uncalled for. This is not to say that you should be dishonest at these events but only to point out that that these are for more intimate, subsequent encounters.
* Do not talk about the awful time you had today. Keep in mind that this is your first encounter. You don’t talk about how you have had bad blood with your boss, how your angered colleague screamed at you at the top of her lungs, how you are underperforming, or similar stuff. For all you know, he or she may not be interested in your work – much less in the people you work with. Avoid complaining; rather, project that you are positive, appreciative and easy to get along with. Now let us be clear about our projections – we do not mean to disillusion our dates, we simply want to exert extra effort to highlight our strengths and downplay our weaknesses.
* Do talk about your purpose. Marriage-minded singles should have the shared goal of meeting Mr. / Ms. Right during speed dating events. Being a sacred and life-long commitment, establishing a shared purpose is very important. You may want to ask about what matters to him/her most at this point in his/her life. Is it career? Family? Religion? Discovering your date’s center and purpose in life (at least for now), would be a very good indicator if you would really hit it off. You may also want to delve on common hobbies or pastimes. And although you want to share your and hear about your date’s perspective on relevant topics, avoid topics that are very prone to argument (e.g. religion, politics, abortion, etc.). For example, you may want to ask, “Time with family is very important to me. Would you want to share your view on this?”
* Do talk about his/her interests. At the onset of the conversation, you may have a hunch about what appeals to your date. Zoom in on these interests – things which he/she has a passion for – and delve lengthily and confidently on these topics. Avoid sounding like Mr. Webster or Ms. Know-It-All though; just project enough confidence to sustain easy, casual conversation on the topic. More than projecting an image of confidence, this also effectively creates an impression that you are someone who is ready to listen and who is keen on knowing what your date is passionate about.
Oh, and one final, very important piece of advice – talk and listen emphatically – with your head and with your heart. You may be good at projecting – or faking – sincerity at first, but artificiality will certainly be found out in your next encounters. And if all else fails during the first speed date, heck, find another event near you! Speed dating is so popular now that one is bound to take place in your area.
Ironically, speed dating is effective in finding the one with whom time seems to stand still. Have fun!