Speed dating, I'm sure you have heard of it, and have scoffed at the very idea of trying it yourself. If you are anything like I was, then you no doubt think of it as too gimmicky and perhaps kitsch.
The truth however could not be further from the truth. The reality is, that speed dating is probably the most effective way, of finding that special someone in today's mostly impersonal tech focused world.
On this I am talking from personal experience, having tried a myriad of online dating sites and phone apps over quite a number of years, I finally decided to give speed dating a try. I immediately wished I had done so sooner and now, after a number of events I am in the early stages of dating a wonderful women I met through speed dating.
Speed dating itself, began in the late Nineties before becoming all the rage in the early Noughties. Then the buzz around it died, due mostly to the abundance of phone based dating apps.
However, that is all changing and people the world over are realizing that the impersonal nature of phone apps are ineffective as opposed to meeting face to face with real people.
So why such a turn around in the popularity of speed dating? In many ways it is due to societies current attitudes. People today lead very busy lives and traditional methods of meeting prospective dates are seen as inefficient, we want things to be more time effective.
Plus there is another side to societies attitude of the moment and that is the acceptance of casual sex. I mention this as it plays a big part in why other ways of meeting people have become ineffectual, at least at this moment in time. All too often nowadays, there is an assumption by those using online dating and smart phone apps that the majority of users are seeking a casual partners and those that aren't, are, as a result extremely guarded.
A similar thing applies to meeting people in bars and clubs, with societies acceptance of casual sex, people in bars and clubs with the help of alcohol, have a tendency to be wanting to find a casual partner rather than something more permanent. The overwhelming difference with speed dating as opposed to most other ways of meeting people is that it is purely focused on and attended by those who are looking for a genuine long term relationship.
So how does speed dating actually work and what goes on?
For starters every event I have ever attended has been a well organized and relaxed affair, taking place in a private area in a bar. The premise is quite simple, an equal number of men and women all wanting to meet eligible singles, who get the opportunity to briefly engage in conversation as a way of screening potential dates.
Don't think of speed dating as going on 12 to 15 dates over the course of an evening, as you really are not dating anyone. Moreover, it is an opportunity to meet other singles and find out if there is any mutual interest which may lead to a genuine date.
The evening will usually begin with everybody casually mingling usually with a drink in hand. During this period waiting for everybody to arrive, I have met some wonderful people and have had fascinating conversations with men and women alike.
Bear in mind that should you feel a bit apprehensive, a bit nervous, that everybody else is feeling that exact same way, you are all there for the very same reason.
Once every body has arrived and been given a numbered name tag ( You are certainly not expected to remember everyone's names), then the ladies will sit at their allocated table/seat where they will be joined by the guy whose number matches that table. A bell will ring and you begin chatting for 5 minutes before another bell lets the men know that it is time to move to the next table.
The events I have been to have at the halfway point, had a break, enabling you to refresh your drink and again casually mingle, this time over some trays of finger food. After the event has seen you spend time with every prospective date, people again will mingle.
After meeting each date you then mark on a sheet of paper a simple yes/no against their name, this is used by the organizers to work out mutual matches. The key word here though is mutual, both parties need to say yes for there to be a match. The following day, you will receive an email or text message with the contact details of any matches. From there it is up to you.
For those of you in my home town of Perth in Western Australia, it would be remiss of me not to recommend Dare2Date. I have have always found that Dare2Date events something that I looked forward to, fun and well organized evenings spent meeting a range of wonderful people. Debbie who runs Dare2Date is also a relationship coach who offers services such as online profile writing and personal coaching.
The overwhelming feeling with Dare2Date is that the staff are passionate about helping people finding their special someone and that the financial side is never the focus. ( Unlike online dating whereby it is all just a money making machine)
Advice on getting the best out of your speed dating time.
Over the course of the past two years I have attended quite a few speed dating events and it is fair to say I have learnt a few do's and dont's. So I think it time now to share some tidbits of advice from my own experiences with speed dating.
The first thing I will say is to relax and don't put too much pressure on yourself. You certainly do not want to be seen as a sweaty bundle of nerves. So relax, be yourself and feel confident about who you are.
Treat the event as a great night out. If the right person is there you will get a match, if not well that's okay too because you would have had a fun evening, meeting a variety of people you wouldn't normally get to meet
Whilst it is important to be yourself, if being yourself means wearing football shorts and a T-shirt, then you may need a rethink. Dress to impress while still staying true to who you are. If the only time you have ever worn a suit was to your Grandmothers funeral, now is not the time to wear it again. You must feel comfortable. Your clothes can have a dramatic effect on how you come across at a speed dating event.
It is widely accepted that confidence is a trait women find appealing, overdress and you will feel uncomfortable and awkward. However, dressing better than you normally would, will leave you feeling great, your posture will improve as will your confidence and sense of self worth.
An item of clothing that men tend to forget that women will generally notice is your footwear. A good pair of leather dress shoes always look smart, just make sure you polish them. Think about your grooming, have a haircut a day or two before, have a shower, brush your teeth and use a breath freshener, clean and file your fingernails and wear some nice cologne.
Make certain that you have allowed plenty of time to get to the event and you know where it is and where you will park if driving. The early bird catches the worm as they say, so if you arrive late, then every other guy in the room has already had plenty of time to mingle and make a great first impression with the ladies.
Do not become a cliche. It is natural for everybody at a speed dating event to ask the same things. What do you do for work, What do you do for fun, What are your hobbies?etc. Remember, this is not a first date.
Speed Dating is simply a way to discover if you and your fellow single have enough interest in each other to want to know more. So leave the interrogation for later, you only have 5 minutes and that goes very quickly. I suggest all you want is some light hearted banter, just as you would in a bar situation.
Plan ahead. This I cannot emphasis enough. Think about what you will talk about. Yes the conversation needs to be natural and not seem rehearsed, but it is vital that you come armed with a choice of conversation starters. Light hearted and simple questions, questions that do not require deep thought to answer. Just remember, they are nervous too and like you they want to leave a great impression.
I once made the mistake of asking What would your Biography be called?, sure it is a question that could reflect a lot about a person, but it is not one easily answered in a hurry. Asking this question, meant long pauses of up to a minute long as they thought carefully on how to answer.
I have also asked, What superpower would you not want to have? again not an easy one to answer quickly. So think about questions that if asked of you, you could answer easily, without having to stop and think too long.
What type of questions are easy to answer? Multiple choice. Just remember to keep them light hearted, everybody likes to smile, especially when in a nerve wracking situation like speed dating . So perhaps instead of asking about which superpower etc ask something like, Superman has X-ray vision and can fly, which one would you choose? The response will then be one or the other.
It is not the answer that counts, it is the fun conversation that ensues that really matters. I mentioned to my wonderful Ladyfriend (that I met at a speed dating event) that I was writing this post. Her response was for me to share the conversation starter I used that night.
That evening I went armed with a few questions with a choice of two answers but the one that really generated great conversation was " If you have to give up one of these two things for the rest of your life, which one do you choose to keep? Coffee or Chocolate?" The answers then led onto discussions about needing coffee to start the day or how a piece of chocolate cake is their go to pick me up when feeling down etc. The answer itself was irrelevant, but the resulting conversation was always lively, easy and fun.
As mentioned earlier, you have a piece of paper on which you respond with a yes or no to each single you meet. I suggest that against each name you make a notation as a way to remember who they were. You are meeting a lot of new people in a short space of time, so don't expect to remember all their names the next day.
It need not be an essay,a note about something that makes them unique and memorable, "wore a red dress", "liked listening to Tom Waits", "has an amazing smile and dimples". Then at the end of the night, take out your phone and take a photo of the sheet as you will be handing this sheet back to the organizers. This way, when you recieve your matches contact details, you know exactly who they are.
My final piece of advice, relates your yes and no responses. My advice is to have Yes as your default response. So instead of trying find a reason to say Yes and ending up saying No to everyone, say yes to everyone unless you really feel you have no interest at all. Saying Yes is not a marriage proposal, all it is that you are saying is, yes I am interested in finding out a bit more about this person over more than a rushed 5 minute timeframe
So I urge all singles to give speed dating a try. Go in with a positive mindset, free of any expectations aside from having a great evening. Ensure you are dressed and groomed well and smell nice. Smile , engage with everybody, whether it is whilst mingling or in a one on one situation and most of all, have fun.
So between Christmas and New Year, I turned 50, yes the big Five Zero. So does that now mean I am old, that I now need to start looking at retirement homes, caravans, walking frames and hearing aids? Of course it doesn't, unless of course I wished or needed to, which I can say I don't. It does however mean that my head of Grey hair is more age appropriate than when I started greying at 16.
Very few birthdays bring about a change in our lives, here in Australia, turning 18 does see things change, at 18 you have the right to vote, are legally considered to be an Adult, can now legally drink and buy alcohol and enter licensed premises such as nightclubs. Another example here in Western Australia is that at the age of 80, you are required to pass a medical examination each year to keep your drivers license. No such changes exist however for when you turn 50. Sure, it is a milestone birthday, half a century of living on our planet is as good an excuse to celebrate as any I have heard and so celebrate I did. A gathering of family and friends helped me to celebrate my Fiftieth and I had a wonderful time doing so. But nothing else changed.
I didn't for instance, change my choice of radio station, even though Triple J is a station aimed at the youth market of 16 to 25 year olds, I still like the same music I did the day before my birthday and the number of years since my birth wan't going to change it. I most certainly did not develop the urge to wear ill fitting cardigans and socks and sandals or any other ageist cliche. The reason being , is that nothing has changed.
It is my belief that with each passing decade, everybody ought to take a look at themselves and the way they are viewed by others, and your Fiftieth decade is no different. Now I am certainly not suggesting that you necessarily need to make any changes, but without taking time out to assess who you are and how others view you, it can be all too easy to come across very differently than how you think you do. Many of us have smirked upon seeing a Fifty something acting and dressing like a 20 something, a simple review of yourself each decade can prevent you being the one laughed at. A previous blog post of mine about my own review upon nearing 50 goes into a bit more detail on this.
So am I now past it?
Well you are, if you think that you are! But bear in mind that you can expect many more decades of life still to come. In Australia and the U.S. life expectancy is now between 78 and 84 years, so don't be in any hurry to feel old. Sure, we have aches and pains we never used to have but advances in medical science have seen ways to combat these. Anti inflammatory medications, surgeries like hip replacements as well as activities like yoga and exercise can see us lead active lives well into our Seventies. I for one still intend to be playing the occasional game of golf in my Seventies. I am no stranger to aches and pains and back and shoulder issues as my blog post An Ageing Body, Massages and Yoga details.
How can I not feel old when I look old? Well if it is your appearance that is making you feel old, then be realistic about your expectations and make some changes. Ageing is natural, but there are things we can do to help slow down the way it affects us. Obviously Diet and Exercise are important, the healthier and fitter you are the younger you will appear. One of the simplest things you can do to slow down the appearance of ageing is to drink more water. Buy a water bottle you like and keep it with you, sipping away and refilling it throughout the day. My personal water bottle is made of stainless steel and is insulated, it will easily keep my water chilled for 12 hours and its woodgrain appearance I think is rather stylish.
Another way to minimize the appearance of ageing is the use of a good skincare regime. I dealt with this on my blog 5 Essential Grooming Products For Your Face. The things to remember though are to look for products that are specifically designed for men and more specifically, men in their Fifties. Men's skin differs from that of women and so requires a differently formulated product, plus as you age your requirements change. You will be wanting to add more elasticity and vibrancy to your skin than you would when in your Twenties.
So I guess the thing about turning 50 is that yes, it is only a number, but no one cares what that number is as long as you yourself don't. If you feel old, make the changes that will leave you not feeling old any more, but ready once more to take on and enjoy all that life has to bring.The choice is all yours to make, yours and yours alone.
Now is the time
What better time to kick start the new you than the new year. Like most people, I am several (well more like 30) years behind on achieving any New Years Resolutions. I still carry too much weight, I could eat healthier and be fitter, these are after all, the standard and cliched resolutions for the new year and ones that for most of us rarely get achieved.
So perhaps we need to rethink our strategy for resolution making. First of all, in order for us to achieve any resolution we have to genuinely want to, as opposed to feeling the weight of societal expectation on us to do so. Secondly, we need to feel it is obtainable and thirdly, we need to stop rehashing the very same resolutions year after year.
Regardless of how long you have been single or divorced, the New Year is an ideal time to begin the evolution of the new you. Sure, the process can easily begin at any time, but the new year can act as a starting point, new calendar year, Christmas Season has been and gone ( Plus in my case so has my post Christmas, Birthday.) and for many it can signal a return to work after annual leave or time off. The "New You" is however not an instant thing, but part of a process of evolution, something that you may have already began without actually knowing. However, lets make an effort to make the new year, the time in which you make the conscious decision to begin your journey to make the changes in yourself you wish to make.
In other words, it is not so much about making a a New Years resolution, but rather a conscious decision to work towards making changes. Start with little things, perhaps you may decide to wear less short sleeved shirts and instead roll up your long sleeves in hotter weather ( a far more stylish and mature look), you may decide that you wish to begin delving into the scary world of online or speed dating. The bottom line is, it is simply a great time to signal your intent to yourself.
Beginning the process.
Well you have decided that the New Year is a great time to kick start the new you. So what now?, Where to from here? Well the first step is to figure out just who the new you really is. This is not necessarily a quick and easy step, it is however one that on a sub-conscious level you have probably been formulating a concept of. I have written an earlier post titled; Who am I? Rediscovering your single self dealing with that very issue. This will enable you to work out for yourself what things about you, you would like to make changes to. Bear in mind that this is not a quick fix, but the start of an ongoing process of evolution.
So what then are some areas that you may want to address? To answer this I must look to my own journey of reinvention and mention some of the areas that I myself felt I had to begin to change, some of which I have and some are still ongoing. The obvious one for me was my dress sense, I felt that my attire was no longer reflecting who I was as a person, I can say now that even though I do make my own fashion mistakes at times, my clothes better reflect the new me. I also wanted to make changes that would see me improve myself socially and as a person. To that end, I began speed dating and dating in general as well as making a conscious effort to get out in the world and not to hide away in my own little shy world, something that I was all too prone to doing. The result has been going to more social events, comedy shows, gigs and seeing someone beyond a first or second date for the first time in years.
So call it what you will, A New Years Resolution, a Promise of Intent to Yourself or whatever. But the start of a new year really is the best time to push that reset button and start the process of change. By having a date of commencement, it makes it easier and more real in your own mind. Without my making a very conscious decision I certainly would not be in the early stages of what could be my first relationship after my divorce. We all know just how hard it is to initiate change, we as men have a tendency to resist change at all costs, often to our own detriment. So use the new year as impetus to make change, use it as the beginning of your journey. Yes, we all want to lose weight and get fit, but surely beginning a process that will see you become happier about both life and yourself is a priceless step to make.
Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.