Is Speed Dating the Answer?

by | May 22, 2012

What can you find out in a few minutes? And what are the alternatives?

So you walk into the room, sit down, and get your three or four minutes with, what, 15-20 people of the opposite sex, most within your general age group? What\’s wrong with that? You lead a busy life. You need to use your time efficiently. You want to limit the field to only those looking for a real relationship. You want to up the odds of meeting your dream date or—think big!—your life partner.

So what is the realistic outcome in speed dating?

First, tons of research suggests that in the short time you have, physical attraction trumps many traditional requirements, such as intelligence and sincerity. Now that\’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you get what you need in the end. Physical attraction is essentially a chemical reaction to someone\’s looks, body language, how they express themselves, and how they treat you. Even if it happens in just a few seconds, that attraction can be a solid foundation for a long-term relationship.

Or not.

The problem is that too often, physical attraction can be an illusion. Too often, it can dissolve as less desirable traits emerge when you get to know the person better. Or worse, you can launch into a committed relationship that eventually morphs from heavenly to a bad dream.

So what are the best approaches to finding the right person? Here are some alternatives that, taken as a whole, offer more solid possibilities than speed dating. They can help allay the desperation that some of us feel from waiting too long for Mr. or Ms. Right.

  • Focus on yourself. Get healthy. Exercise. Eat well. Do that makeover you\’ve had in the back of your mind for a long time. Update your wardrobe. Get yourself ready to meet people with a new vitality and a brightened outlook. If you are depressed or overly anxious in life, seek depression counseling.
  • Find your passionate interest. Then dive into it. You will meet others, same sex and opposite, who share your interest. Put yourself out, start making friends and sharing your advocacy or creative thoughts and feeling, immerse yourself in the culture of your interest. Put in the homework to be the person that will attract the people you want in your life. Your particular personality does not matter. You can do all these things quietly or boisterously. But having a focus makes you more interesting and desirable.
  • Get out more with friends. Take your friends, same sex or opposite, to events related to your passionate interest. Join in discussions after these events, and make sure you have some business cards to hand over to invite contact, when it\’s safe and appropriate. (If you don\’t have business cards, they\’re easy and cheap to design and print—and show people you are serious about yourself.)
  • Join societies, networks, professional organizations. If you\’re a writer, join your region\’s writers\’ network and attend their annual and local functions. If you\’re a bird watcher, join the local Audubon chapter. You\’ll sit in workshops, listen to a person\’s thoughts and feelings, get a sense of who they are. You can make some of the best friends of your life—or find a partner—in conference meetings. Bring your business cards!
  • Find your town or region\’s meetup groups. They\’re easy to find online and generally there are a bunch within reasonable driving distance. Join reading, creative, exercise, sports, or more focused groups. If you are a transplant to your area, join the meetup of people from your hometown and go watch sporting events involving your favorite childhood teams with them. You will meet many people who share the same passions. That\’s guaranteed. Go have fun with them.
  • Check out your local libraries. Even today, many libraries have budgets for bringing in experts to do workshops in storytelling, children\’s literature, mystery reading—you name it. Be a regular at these events and you will soon run into people that have much in common with you
  • Look for creative ways to connect. Use the Internet, local publications, whatever resources are available to find out what\’s going on that you might really enjoy. Then get out and do it. Follow good practices in making contact and you can do this safely.
  • Let the world come to you. Speaking as an Orange County therapist: Ditch the desperation. You have to think through the purpose of a waiting period carefully. Learn that affection can come from many sources, including relatives, friends, and coworkers. Deepen or renew those relationships and offer your own affection to them and new friends. Be selective, but when you commit to a friendship, be passionate. Be the kind of person you will want to spend your life with. If you can do that, people will come to you for affection. Then let the good times roll.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here:


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