Speed Dating Advice To Help You Have The Best Experience

Medically reviewed by Karen Foster
Updated November 21, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Speed dating can be a positive and rewarding experience for many people. During a speed dating event, you'll get to have short, one-on-one conversation 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 both mark that you'd like to meet up, you'll be given their contact information.

Many people like that speed dating presents an opportunity to gauge potential matches without the pressure that may come with 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 good 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 designed to allow single people to meet and find a potential romantic match. This type of event was first devised in 1998 by Rabbi Yaacov Deyo 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.

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

Speed dating is, by design, quick. This can relieve stress for some because each miniature date only lasts for 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 see if it's 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.

Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Speed Dating

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

Stay Engaged

“Dates” at a speed dating event usually last between five and 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, try to practice active listening by making eye contact, nodding, and 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 Good 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 good questions of your own 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 both 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 on a more intimate level, 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. 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. In fact, 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, it’s usually a good idea 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 a good 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 first 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 5–15 new people—perhaps even more. If you don’t click or match with someone (or anyone) at an event, that’s okay. It’s still a good 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.

Speed Dating And Anxiety

Many people experience nervousness before attending a speed dating event. Preparing before the event can alleviate worry for some, as can wearing an outfit you feel confident in, keeping a good 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 come with a bit 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, since 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 types of challenges. If low self-esteem is holding you back in your dating life, for example, 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.

How To Seek The Support Of A Therapist

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 different kinds of 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 good 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.

Takeaway

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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