The Pros And Cons Of Online Speed Dating

Apparently nothing can stand in the way of finding love. Not even a global pandemic. And that’s a great statement about the enduring power of human connection. Can’t meet in person? Get creative with online dating. Can’t attend that speed dating event at your favorite bar? Hit the internet and find an online speed dating event on Zoom instead.

The point is that opportunity abounds for finding true love, regardless of what’s going on in the world or in your life. And online speed dating is just another creative bump in the search for love.

Man using his phone to participate in an online speed dating event.

Online dating tends to get most of the attention. These days, most singles who want to find a partner have a profile — or two or three or ten — on dating apps. They may even forget profiles that are still hanging around on free apps. (Time for a little housecleaning?)

As a dating coach, I take a holistic approach with my clients. I want them to have the full breadth of dating experiences that mesh with their authentic selves.

For this reason, I don’t limit a client’s plan to online dating or any other singular approach.

That’s where speed dating — and now online speed dating — comes in.

Not familiar? Not confident you can shine in a round-robin mixer? Worried you might waste your time or money?

Read on before cutting yourself (and speed dating) short. You might just wonder why it took a global pandemic to bring this meet-and-greet to your living room.

A little history on speed dating….

Believe it or not, hints of the future started in the 19th century with a ritual called New Year’s Calling. Kind of a Jane Austen version of a drop-in open house, but for young singles.

Fast forward to the late 1990’s when speed dating got its modern-day start as a way to help Jewish singles meet potential matches on a more level playing field.

Now, when you hear the term “speed dating,” you can almost hear the “time’s up” bell dinging.

So what are some of the pros and cons of speed dating? And are they the same for online speed dating as for in-person speed dating?

Let me give you a bit of a set up.

Most speed dating hosts organize the event by age groups, interests, and even religion. You arrive at a bar, restaurant or other venue with about two dozen other singles — half women and half men.

After signing in, you’re given a number and a card for jotting notes about the people you meet.

Pairs are pre-assigned, and usually one gender will remain in place while the other gender rotates after each time limit is up.

Different organizations will have different time limits, but the norm is five to ten minutes. Just enough time to get an idea of your “date”, but not too long.

If you’re interested in someone, you put that person’s number on your card.

At the end, you turn in your card to the master of ceremonies. And, if both people put one another’s number down on their cards, they will receive one another’s contact information via email so they can meet outside the event.

Thanks to tech-savvy romance protectors, this low-risk dating format now has an at-home version in the form of online speed dating (usually via Zoom).

Instead of candidates moving around the room, you’re paired up in Zoom “breakout rooms” for the duration of your mini-date. The organizer takes care of watching the time and re-pairing candidates.

And the pros and cons are pretty much the same as for the in-person version…save for the off-screen attire, driving, and parking and cocktail costs.

Here are some of the pros of online speed dating:

  • You get to meet at least half a dozen people in a short period of time.
  • You’re in a safe environment — your own home!
  • You don’t have the pressure of maintaining a long conversation if you’re just not feeling a connection. Anyone can do polite conversation for a handful of minutes, right?
  • You have an easy way to filter candidates for things like attraction, likability, values, and safety without an extensive upfront investment of time and energy. Is this someone you would even consider for a real date?
  • You have the benefit of body language, eye contact, tone of their voice, and other personal expressions you don’t get from messages alone.
  • Unlike in-person speed dating, you don’t have to worry about getting dressed up — at least not from the waist down. You can pick a comfortable spot in your home, pour a glass of wine, and share a bit of your personal environment.
  • You know that everyone is there for the same objective. Some of the participants may be marriage-minded people and some may just be starting to date. But everyone is there to meet people with whom he or she could be compatible.
  • You get to practice your conversation skills in real-time. Sometimes writing messages can make you forget how to have a spontaneous conversation where your humor can come through.
  • You will inevitably learn more about yourself from the conversation-starting questions.
  • You get to actually see the person and not just a profile picture that may not be truly representative of his or her appearance.
  • You just might meet someone you would have a genuine interest in dating.

And now here are some of the cons of online speed dating:

  • If you have an immediate dislike for someone, you’re stuck in that conversation for the duration of your time limit. (But still, this may be an opportunity for you to practice segueing conversation to mutually enjoyable topics.)
  • Conversations and first impressions tend to be pretty superficial, as you just don’t have time to dig more deeply. (If you find yourself wanting to know more about this person, however, that’s a good reason to put his or her number on your card.)
  • There’s always the risk that one or both sides will make a superficial judgment based on a quick physical impression.
  • Great matches can be missed if, for example, one person needs to warm up to conversation. Some personality styles just feel more at ease with a stopwatch running, while others feel pressured.
  • You open yourself up to rejection. What happens if you liked one or more people who didn’t like you? You might feel deflated and discouraged when you open a “no matches” email.
  • There is a price of admission, sometimes a $30-40 fee for in-person events and $10-$20 for virtual events.

Whether you attend a live speed dating event or curl up at home, keep a spirit of adventure. And do a little prep work ahead of time to make the experience fun for both you and the candidates you’ll meet.

Arm yourself with several conversation starters — generic questions with a little twist.

No one wants to be stumped on a first date, let alone on the clock. But people are also more likely to remember you if you show a little more depth of interest than the average person. This isn’t a job interview, it’s a potential-dating “exploration.”

And remember the endearing power of humor and a big smile!

When it’s time to “rate your date”, give a thumbs-up to anyone you’re on the fence with. Speed dating can make a person come across as intimidated or reserved. So consider giving a nice person a second chance if he or she likes you and you think there may be something worth exploring.

Most importantly, leave your expectations at the door. That way you can avoid disappointment.

Or you may decide to elevate them so you can optimistically embrace the possibilities.

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