Speed Dating: Pros, Cons, and Tips for Success

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Speed dating is an event format that is designed to help single people meet and interact with each other. You spend short amounts of time with multiple prospective candidates to see if you click with any of them and would like to get to know them further.

Sometimes, even though you would like to be in a relationship, it can be hard to meet that special someone. The speed dating format was devised to help with this.

The idea behind speed dating is to bring a lot of single people together in one place to increase your chances of finding someone you like. The format involves spending a short amount of time chatting with each candidate, because it often doesn’t take long to determine whether you’re attracted to someone or not.

In this article, we discuss how speed dating works, the pros and cons of this format, and some dos and don’ts of speed dating that can help improve your chances of success.

What Happens at Speed Dating?

Speed dating events are generally organized at venues such as restaurants, cafes, bars, event spaces, or parks. The events often involve food and drinks, to help everyone relax, mingle, and have a good time. However, for people who prefer virtual events, some speed dating events are hosted online as well.

Speed dating events are hosted by individuals, organizations, or event companies. You may have to register your participation in advance or purchase a ticket to attend the event. This helps organizers balance out the number of participants at the event.

The number of participants at a speed dating event can vary depending on the scale of the event. Smaller events may have fewer than 10 participants whereas larger events can have over 50 participants.

Speed dating events are often geared toward specific groups of people based on factors such as age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, profession, income, or interests.

When you arrive at the venue, you will likely be given materials such as a nametag and a scorecard. The hosts will brief you and let you know how long each round of speed dating will last, how many rounds there will be, and whether there are any other rules. The organizers will also divide the participants into two groups: one group will remain seated throughout and one group will rotate seats after each round.

Once the speed dating event starts, you will be paired up with a different partner for each round. Each round, or “date,” can last anywhere between two minutes and 10 minutes. Depending on the number of participants at the event, you will typically be paired up with anywhere between five and 10 partners over the course of the event.

During each round, you can chat with your partner and get to know them. A bell or timer will go off when the round is over, signaling that it’s time to change places and meet a new partner. You will be given a few minutes in between each round to mark your scorecard and make notes on it.

After all the rounds are completed, there may be a cocktail mixer or a social activity, during which you can spend more time with the other participants. At the end, you will be asked to submit your final scorecard or fill out a form indicating which of the participants you might like to see again.

After the event, the organizers of the event will let you know whether any of the people you indicated interest in are interested in seeing you too. They will share the person’s contact information with you and after that it’s up to the two of you to get in touch.

Pros and Cons of Speed Dating

Like any non-traditional form of dating, the speed dating format has its pros and cons. 

Advantages of Speed Dating

These are some of the advantages of speed dating:

  • It helps you meet multiple prospective partners: It can be hard to meet someone if your daily life keeps you busy. Speed dating can help you meet multiple prospective partners in one go.
  • It helps you quickly determine chemistry: While online dating apps have become popular ways to find prospective partners, you can chat with someone online for weeks only to find out you have no chemistry when you meet them in person. Speed dating gives you a chance to meet the person face-to-face and determine whether there is instant attraction or chemistry between the two of you.
  • It saves time and effort: Going on dates can cost a lot of time, money, and effort. The speed dating process can help combine multiple dates into a single evening. This can be especially helpful for busy people.
  • It reduces uncertainty and awkwardness: Meeting someone for the first time at a bar or coffee shop can come with a lot of uncertainty and awkwardness. Should you talk to them or ask them out? If someone has approached you, should you give them your number? The speed dating format has a fixed set of rules that can circumvent any awkwardness. Participants are not under any obligation to share their contact details with anyone and there are no hard feelings if it doesn't work out.
  • It offers a sense of safety: There is a sense of safety in knowing that the event is governed by a set of rules and the organizers will ask anyone who behaves inappropriately to leave. The event is conducted in a public place with other people present. Your contact details remain private unless you choose to share them. Meeting people face-to-face also reduces the risk of being catfished.

Disadvantages of Speed Dating

These are some of the disadvantages of speed dating, however:

  • It can feel rushed: Speed dating can sometimes feel rushed, because a few minutes may not be enough time to get to know someone, determine whether you have common interests, or gauge your compatibility.
  • It can put too much emphasis on the first impression: Speed dating can put a lot of pressure on you to make a good first impression on someone in a short amount of time, which can be stressful. It can also unfairly prioritize looks over other important qualities that may not be immediately apparent.
  • It can be hard for people with social anxiety: People who are outgoing and extroverted may fare better at speed dating; whereas, it can be nerve-wracking for people who tend to get nervous or anxious in such situations.
  • It may not necessarily help you meet the right person: While speed dating can help you meet some potential partners, you may not necessarily meet someone you’d like to pursue a relationship with, which can be disappointing.

Dos and Don'ts of Speed Dating

These are some dos and don’ts of speed dating that can help improve your chances of success.

  • Keep an open mind toward the process and potential partners.

  • Keep some conversation starters handy.

  • Strike a balance between speaking and listening to your date.

  • Ask a friend to do a practice date with you if you’re nervous.

  • Try to relax and be your authentic self.

  • Be too negative about the process or critical of the participants.

  • Treat the date like an interview.

  • Monopolize the conversation or stay silent.

  • Give up on the process if it didn’t work the first time.

  • Prioritize participants' looks over character and personality.

A Word From Verywell

If you don’t have a lot of time to date or meet people, speed dating can offer a way for you to meet potential partners. It can be particularly helpful if you prefer meeting people face-to-face rather than using dating apps and chatting with them online.

If you’re going to a speed dating event, keep an open mind and go prepared with some conversation starters. Try to relax and be yourself. With luck, you’ll find a potential partner. If not, hopefully you’ll at least meet interesting people and have a fun time.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Grant-Jacob JA. Love at first sight. Front Psychol. 2016;7:1113. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01113

  2. Zebrowitz LA. First impressions from faces. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2017;26(3):237-242. doi:10.1177/0963721416683996

By Sanjana Gupta
Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.