Speed Dating Advice To Help You Have The Best Experience

Medically reviewed by Karen Foster, LPC
Updated April 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Speed dating can be a positive and rewarding experience for many people. During a speed dating event, you'll have short, one-on-one conversations with several people. At the end of the night, you'll be asked to indicate whether you're interested in seeing anyone you've chatted with again. If you and another person mark that you'd like to meet up, you'll be given their contact information.

Many people appreciate speed dating as it allows them to gauge potential matches in a relaxed setting, potentially ideal for those coming straight from work without the pressure of a full-length date. However, the experience can be nerve-wracking, uncomfortable, and even anxiety-producing for some. That said, there are several tips you can follow to prepare yourself for a more positive speed dating experience, such as practicing open body language, making eye contact, and wearing an outfit that makes you feel confident during your first impression.

Worried about trying speed dating?

What is speed dating?

Speed dating is a social event that allows single people to meet and find a potential romantic match. Rabbi Yaacov Deyo devised this type of event in 1998 to help single people assess romantic potential more quickly and easily than through traditional dating or online dating. Despite the rise in the popularity of dating apps, speed dating is still a fairly common way to meet new people, especially for those who prefer to start with an in-person connection.

Often, an organization runs speed dating events, and there may be certain requirements to attend (such as age range, career type, religion, or sexual orientation). Typically, signing up for one of these events involves registration and a fee.

During a typical speed dating event, participants are divided into two groups and rotate through a series of short, timed encounters with each other. These "first dates" only last a few minutes, making first impressions crucial in determining if there's enough interest for a second date. Most events are held in settings like coffee shops, where the atmosphere is casual and conducive to conversation. In a single evening, you have the opportunity to meet multiple potential partners, quickly gauging your compatibility and deciding if you've met the right person to pursue further.

Speed dating is, by design, quick. This can relieve stress for some because each miniature date lasts only a few minutes. If you feel like you're getting along well with someone, you can indicate your interest at the end of the event and exchange contact details if the attraction is mutual. However, if one of your dates is going poorly, you only have a few minutes to wait until it's over, and you can move on to the next first meeting.

Speed dating tips

The outcomes of attending a speed dating event have the potential to be positive, ranging from simply having a fun time to meeting a match that you end up dating further. Consider some of the tips to help you combat nervousness and get the most out of the experience.

Stay engaged

“Dates” at a speed dating event usually last five to ten minutes. You can maximize that brief time by staying engaged and present with each person. First, put your phone away; even having it face down on the table can be distracting. 89% of participants in a survey say that someone took a phone out during their last interaction, and 82% said it deteriorated the conversation.

Next, practice active listening by making eye contact, nodding, using other encouraging body language, listening without judgment, and asking follow-up questions as needed. In one study, participants who were partnered with someone who practiced active listening were more likely to be satisfied with the conversation and more likely to say that their partner was attractive and left a positive impression. This approach can be helpful not just in speed dating but also in making friends, acing a job interview, or any other social situation where effective communication is key.

Ask thoughtful questions

The speed dating event organizers may offer you a list of questions to ask people if you need a little inspiration. Either way, going in with a few questions at the ready can also help you feel more confident and cultivate fun and meaningful conversations with people during the night.

While it can be helpful to learn about the basics, like a person's job and where they're from, you might benefit from going a bit deeper, too. For instance, consider asking them about their passions—like what they could talk about for half an hour without preparation, who the most important person in their life is, and which of their current personal goals most excites them. Questions like these can help you get to know them more intimately, even in a short time. Follow these top tips for speed dating advice to make the most of your experience and create lasting connections.

Worried about trying speed dating?

Be true to yourself

We all want to put our best foot forward when meeting someone new, as first impressions count. This is especially true in dating situations like serious dating, teen dating, speed dating, etc. However, don’t let the desire to impress make you present yourself as someone you’re not. Stay true to who you are and offer your authentic self, and you’re likely to have more success. One study found that relationships built on accurate self-representation tend to last longer

Keep an open mind

While trying to force a match where it doesn’t exist isn’t recommended, you may want to keep an open mind when going into an event like this. You may have a specific type of person you tend to gravitate towards but try not to get tunnel vision to the point where you disregard someone different who could potentially still be the right match. Changing your perspective a bit may help. Instead of evaluating dating potential, an article on the blog of the popular dating app Bumble suggests asking yourself, “Could I be friends with this person?” After all, many romantic relationships develop from friendships first.

Don’t put pressure on yourself

At a single speed dating event, you’re likely to meet as many as five to 15 new people—perhaps even more, offering the chance for multiple dates with those you connect with. If you don’t click or match with someone (or anyone) at an event, that’s okay. It’s still an experience to put yourself out there and meet new people, and you can always attend another event with a new pool of people. Plus, if you decide this dating format just isn’t for you, there are other ways to meet someone. You might try volunteering, joining a club, or otherwise exposing yourself to like-minded individuals, or exploring dating sites or apps.

How to manage nervousness at speed dating events

Many people experience nervousness before attending a speed dating event. However, preparing before the event can alleviate worry for some, as can wearing an outfit you feel confident in, keeping a neutral perspective on the stakes of the event, and practicing calming breathing techniques

That said, those with anxiety disorders—especially social anxiety—may find that speed dating is triggering. In this case, it can be beneficial to consider other forms of dating that may come with less stress—such as online dating, where you can get to know someone asynchronously without the time pressure. You may also benefit from speaking with a therapist to address your symptoms and learn how you may be able to make your dating experiences more positive.

In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been clinically proven to help lessen symptoms in those who experience anxiety. It works by helping individuals reframe negative thought patterns to make potentially triggering situations—such as dating—more manageable. Research shows that online therapy, in particular, can be effective for those who experience anxiety. In a study published by the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, for instance, researchers found that symptoms of depression and anxiety in participants were significantly reduced after internet-based treatment with a qualified provider. 

That said, you don't need to have a mental health disorder like anxiety to benefit from meeting with a therapist. A professional like this can help people in different situations with different challenges. For example, if low self-esteem is holding you back in your dating life, they can help you devise strategies to build it up. If past heartbreak or trauma is preventing you from being your authentic self in dating situations, they can help you work through that and heal.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Finding support for dating challenges

If you feel you may benefit from the support and guidance of a therapist, you have options. Research suggests that online and in-person therapy can offer similar benefits for many situations and challenges. If you’d prefer to meet with someone in person, you can search for a provider in your local area. Asking your insurance company for a list of covered providers near you, if applicable, can be a first step. 

Or, if you’d prefer to meet with someone virtually from the comfort of your own home, consider an online therapy platform like BetterHelp. You can fill out a brief questionnaire to get matched with someone who fits your needs and preferences. Then, you can meet with them via phone, video call, and/or online chat to address the challenges you may be facing.


Speed dating can be a great way to meet new people without being too time-consuming, but it can be stress-inducing for some—especially those with an anxiety disorder. The tips discussed here can help you go into the event with more confidence and get more out of it. Consider the importance of what you wear to make a good impression and feel comfortable. And while these events often cater to both men and women, meeting with a therapist can also help you learn how to have more positive dating experiences in the future.

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