[intro-text size=”25px”]One Woman Gets More (and Less) than Expected from Speed Dating in the CLE[/intro-text]

Text message from the best friend: “How did your speed dating thing go? Did you get any pussy? 😉 ” … “No, only two of the guys picked me, the two foreigners, so what does that tell you? ; ) ” … “That they didn’t know any better. Maybe the American guys thought you were a man. You didn’t talk about football the whole time, did you ??? ”

Well, sort of. I promised myself I wouldn’t talk about football, but the first four guys, I talked about football. Once they said they were “into sports” or “I’m a Browns fan,” I couldn’t shut up about it. Maybe I ruined this myself??

Speed dating is an unusual animal: so many variables, so many things that can go right or wrong and such little time for them to happen. It’s touted as a way for single people to meet each other under the premise that we’re all professionals with such amazing, busy lives and so certain of what we want that a six to eight minute conversation with a total stranger can bring us to the person of our dreams, or scratch them because we don’t have the time to be investing in the wrong person.

It makes sense; the more people you are exposed to, the more you’ll meet, the better the chance you’ll find someone suitable. Speed dating offers you the opportunity to meet people in double-digits in one shot who are all guaranteed to be looking for partners just because they paid the money and signed up.

I found a local speed dating event and registered for a $45.00 fee. The venue was a lovely romantically-lit restaurant on the East Side. My first impression of the candidates, both men and women, was pretty good. Some were total lookers; they would likely get matches based on physical attractiveness alone. No one seemed unusually nervous or tortured.

Each woman was given a table to stay at permanently while the men would be asked to change tables once every six minutes. We were all given name tags and a blank sheet to write each person’s name into a table with two boxes, one that said, “Let’s talk!” and the other, “No thanks!” You circle one of those boxes for each person you meet. Within two days, the event coordinators email everyone a list of contact information for the people that chose them. If a man and a woman each picked each other, they were a “match.” We would also get the contact info of the people who chose us even if they weren’t picked in return, I guess as a consolation prize if none of us had full matches.

There were ten men in this group and only three of them were men I could see myself actually dating. I want someone with a dynamic personality, but in this group, of the three guys that fit that criteria, two of them were complete dicks. It’s a common problem for women who demand interesting, Renaissance-type men; they are a rare breed and so many of them can be arrogant pricks because they know just how interesting they are. One actually gave me the impression that he thought he was doing me a favor by sitting down at my table. I picked him anyway for the sake of having the experience, but thought later maybe I should not have, just to drop his ego a notch.

Six minutes is not much time. I expected to get to the deal-breakers straight away, I mean, that’s the point of speed dating, right? You get six minutes to eliminate people you know will never be a match and since it’s speed dating, shouldn’t you expect to get asked those deal-breaker questions? I had a list ready; I wanted to ask about religious and political beliefs and kids, as those are topics that can immediately make or break a potential mate for me. Much of the research I’d done on speed dating prior to this event had advised not to ask those questions, but for fuck’s sake, I paid $45 for this and I’ll have to pay when I’m on the date as well, why would I waste my time and money on someone I should have eliminated the first time?

But those questions never happened. It was six minutes of small talk: football, weather, what we did for a living. By the time we got through that it was time to move on, and six minutes just wasn’t enough time for me to feel comfortable enough to ask the deal-breaker questions. This was obviously mutual as no deal-breaker-type questions were asked of me, either, which brings us to a standstill. Small talk is something that doesn’t require much of a mutual interest between people, which leaves physical attractiveness as the only true criteria by which the speed-daters are judging each other when no deal-breakers are questioned. Now we’re equating speed dating with a middle-school dance where the ugly kids are still standing on the wall, but at least your dignity stays intact because none of the other participants will know no one picked you and you don’t ever have to see any of them again anyway.

The best thing about the experience was finding myself being more open-minded about the guys I would date here than if I were just at a bar checking out the line of men bellied up to it. The one guy I did end up matching with was someone I would not have picked based on looks alone, but he was terribly interesting! He had lived and worked all over the world, was sharply-dressed and came across happy and positive. He was one of the three that met my dynamic personality criteria, the only one who was not a dick. He picked me, too, so I sent him an email right away. I received the contact info from the other man who had picked me, but he was not someone I had picked. I remembered him being very nice and very normal (read: boring) with zero common interests between us, so I didn’t bother wasting both of our time contacting him back.

I then received an email from another guy from speed dating, one who I had picked and had my contact info sent to, but did not pick me. My first thought was, “Well, that’s promising.” So I emailed him back, gave him my phone number and asked him if he enjoyed the event. He texted me later saying no, he did not enjoy the event, seemed very emphatic about it, and asked me if I was the black art student.

Great. This guy has no idea who I am. There were no black women at the event, so where does he think he met me from? I explained who I was and immediately get a flood of text messages about how lonely he is, that I said I was looking for a friend (I did??) and if I would be his friend. More messages followed, some of them very personal and none of them very positive, certainly not things you would tell a woman you’re trying to impress. Paranoia, desperation, self-harm, anger – it was disturbing enough that I couldn’t bring myself to respond anymore and just kind of disappeared from the conversation.

My girlfriends were excited to hear the details of how the speed dating event went, so I filled them in on everything, even the unpleasant text messages. I went to dinner with one of them, also named Kristina, and let her read the texts directly from my phone. Her face went from slight concern to downright horror.

“Kris, I know him.”

“What?”

“I know him. He found me through Tinder and contacted me earlier this week. I gave him my number. I didn’t mention it to you because I didn’t plan on it going anywhere, but he told me the same things he told you, and the number that’s on your phone? That’s a New York area code. He told me he was from New York. That’s the same number he texted me from.”

“Oh God. So when he asked me if I was the black art student, he actually thought I was you bec-“

“Because we have the same name, yep. We’re both Kristinas.”

“And you’re-“

“A black art student.”

Fuck.

She pulled up his photo from Tinder and we confirmed it was the same guy. We Googled our names just to make sure our personal information wasn’t floating around out there online for him to find us.

Meanwhile, the one guy I actually matched up with hasn’t contacted me at all, which is quite disappointing. He would have been fun to hang out with, regardless of whether we were dating or just friends. I feel like the open-mindedness I had going into the event served me no purpose. And what was the point for him of going to speed dating then, or did he just waste $45, too? It’s possible he had another match and they’re working out fine, but he wouldn’t have known that within a week or so after the event, so why no attempt?

For what it’s worth, I’ve concluded that speed dating isn’t such a bad thing. For those who really are that busy or work odd hours and can’t meet people in the normal course of their day, it is a semi-useful way to get around that. There are no magic bullets when it comes to meeting people, but there is strength in numbers and the more potential partners you meet, the more likely you are to find someone. Though I didn’t follow through on it, I would definitely ask those deal-breaker questions, it’s what you’re there for. If you don’t ask them, you’ll end up wasting your time and money on people who aren’t proper matches for you. If you are not a conversationalist, don’t go; you only have six minutes to talk someone into your life and though being not-so-expressive verbally isn’t indicative of your personality, it doesn’t leave a good impression in a situation where conversation is the primary medium for communicating who you are.
I won’t be speed dating again any time soon. The experience of dealing with the guy who should stay away from girls named Kristina was a bit too much for me, and damn the one who was a match and isn’t contacting me. It’s not a total wash, either. Go into it with no expectations other than to have fun and you’ll probably get, at the least, that much.