The truth about speed dating

With the number of items on your to-do list, there's barely enough time to eat, sleep, exercise, and shower — never mind going out there and meeting someone new. Thanks to the internet, some of us have the option of using online apps to meet the person of our dreams. For those who want the experience of meeting and greeting face to face, speed dating is a thing. What is it all about, though?

Original Dating says the idea was invented in the 1990s by a young Los Angeles rabbi as a way for busy young people to meet and find prospective partners. It involves having the same number of men and women meet at a venue for organized, face-to-face chats that last from three to 10 minutes before parties decide whether to meet each other again. Event organizers can then help participants exchange contact details if a match is made.

Speed dating sounds like a socially stressful situation

If it sounds stressful, it might be, particularly if you are shy and uncomfortable with the idea of meeting people for the first time. Carol DeCandido, who co-founded a Hong Kong-based speed dating service, says there are ways to make speed dating a positive experience. "You have to ask yourself if you feel comfortable chatting with them, or do they make you laugh besides the initial physical attraction, or does the conversation flow well?" she said (via South China Morning Post). "You also need to see if the person has shown any interest in you while equally important is whether you feel curious enough to learn more about them." 

What are the chances for success when you are speed dating?

Speed dating seems to favor women over men. A UK study on speed dating, reported by the BBC, shows that women at speed dating events have a 50 percent chance of seeing someone again if they make a connection, but a man only has a 20 percent chance that an expression of interest will be reciprocated. Researchers say this shows the women at a speed dating event are fussier and are more careful in approaching and expressing interest in a potential match.

The University of Edinburgh's Michele Belot explains, "We know that across a whole range of behaviors women tend to take fewer risks. They relate this to the fact that making mistakes are much more costly for women than for men because of childbearing. So obviously if you make a mistake in dating the wrong man and having a relationship with the wrong man, you might have nine months carrying a child, then caring for a child. While for men, the costs are lower." 

Belot also says speed dating shows that people are more flexible about who they should date if given the right opportunity. "It's interesting to see [with speed dating] it gives a bit of hope that if you do mix people, they do tend to mix," Belot says.