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Speed Dating ~ A race to romance
by Beth Boswell Jacks

Finding a near-perfect partner in an imperfect world demands creative hunting skills. Ask any single man or woman who’s searching for a companion. They’ll likely sigh and tell us how they’ve hit walls with the usual mate-seeking venues – social connections, school, work, church and volunteer activities.

This is why more and more singles are turning to services like Match.com or to “hiya” events like Quiet Parties and Speed Dating. You've heard of Quiet Parties, right? Not a word can be spoken, not a sound made, at these soirees. All communication is via jotted notes on index cards. Participants pay a fee to attend and, as I said before, those people must have rocks in their heads.

What kind of quality conversation can silent souls record on 4X6 inch index cards? Are points deducted for poor spelling? What if your pen runs out of ink? And do the organizers kick folks out if they get hiccups?

What about popular online services like Match.com? There’s certainly promise there since I personally know people who have found terrific spouses in this manner. But me? With my luck I’d hook up with Ted Bundy or Jack the Ripper.

I heard on the radio the other day, however, about Speed Dating and decided this is one gimmick that might hold promise for those looking. Again, partiers must pay a fee to get in on the action, but $25 is a small price to pay for potential true love.

The Speed Dating set-up, which has been around for quite a few years now, works like this:

      • Seekers pay the fee and fill out forms, detailing their likes and dislikes, hobbies, education, and previous marital attachments.

      • They attend a party and are given brief “interviews” with other attendees, switching chatting partners every 8 minutes when a bell sounds.

      • When the evening is over, they turn in lists of those they considered interesting, those with whom they’d like to have more contact.

      • If, say, after their short 8 minute chat Jenny puts Ron on her list and Ron puts Jenny on his list, the Speed Dating folks notify them with contact information and they are then free to make a call and pursue a real date.

This is silly, right? Nobody can find a likely partner after conversing only 8 minutes. Well, consider the following.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, describes a 2005 study done on Speed Dating at the University of Pennsylvania that found “most people made their choices within the first 3 seconds of meeting” and “a 2006 study in Edinburgh, Scotland, showed that 45% of the women participants in a speed-dating event and 22% of the men had come to a decision within the first 30 seconds.”

Thus it seems 8 minutes is long enough to size up a possible suitor/suitress. In one three hour evening, a Speed Dating client can meet and evaluate 22 ½ possibilities (I suppose a half possibility is better than none at all), and since the contacts take place later, nobody has to be rejected right then and there, which strikes me as really considerate. It’s just one big fun fest, you know? Just like a rousing square dance. “Switch your partner, do-si-do . . .”

Other aspects of these studies in Pennsylvania and Edinburgh explained some of the reasons an 8 minute period is sufficient for a first meeting. These reasons ranged from scent (olfaction and pheromones) to age and height preferences.

Another interesting discovery: Women are more selective than men, which I could have told them. Scent and age may play a part, but I seriously doubt that for men the attraction has much to do with vertical inches.

Humorist Scott Adams got it right when he said that “nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries and dating . . .”

So true. Whether one approaches dating in a traditional or unorthodox manner, it’s all a complicated gamble, which is largely dependent upon subconscious preferences and a few split seconds of sometimes faulty first impressions.

So, blessings on daters and their pheromones; it’s a crazy world out there.


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Dance ~ the Soul's Hidden Language
Class Reunion Advice
Searching for the Inner Animal
It Was a Dark and Stormy... you know
Granny Does the Shoshone
Forget Your Troubles ~ C'mon, Get Older!
Dancing the Weight Away

Editor of USADEEPSOUTH, Beth Boswell Jacks is the author of 3 books (Grit, Guts, and Baseball and Snippets I and II) and is also a weekly columnist for a number of Southern newspapers. Readers and editors may contact her at bethjacks@hotmail.com.
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