As of this morning, neither of the guys I selected for my 8 minute dating experiment have selected me back, leaving me with no matches. It makes me a little bit sad, in a way I hadn’t expected: I thought I’d connected with both of them, at least a little, and it bothers me that I was apparently wrong. I wonder, in an uncomfortable sort of way, if some of the other men there felt that way about me, and are sitting around this morning wondering why I didn’t choose them back.
If I wasn’t clear enough about this in the last post, I am not made for speed dating.
Because I know many of you are living vicariously through me, I present the details:
The event started at 6:08 sharp (cute — they really liked their 8s), they told us, and was in a hotel bar. I arrived a hair after 6, and got myself a drink. There were several people at the bar, and I was nervous and not sure what to do, so I bought a drink and went to awkwardly perch on a couch. I checked my phone, totally being That Guy. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, because eye contact was frightening. Once the event started, I told myself, I’d be engaging and warm and friendly. Just at the moment, I was a little too busy with being awkward and nervous. After five minutes or so, someone came and sat next to me, and I gave a hesitant smile and a, “Hi.”
“Hi, there!” Brandon said.
“Is this your first time at one of these?”
It was not. We spent a while chatting, me about my aggressive “make myself date” plans, him about his recent experiences. He was really nice, and extremely engaging — warm, easy smile, really good-looking guy. He works for a non-profit! I liked him. I’m really glad I started out with that conversation, because it was a nice warm-up to the event itself.
The event did not start at 6:08 sharp. It started at closer to 6:30, because there were a few no-shows they kept waiting for. This annoyed me. I like things to start on time! If people are late, let those people deal with it, not all the rest of us. Also, did the no-shows ever show up? No, they did not. So we waited for no reason.
The organizer explained to us how the event worked: we each had one card on which to record our thoughts and another card showing us our schedule. Whenever the bell rang, we’d jot down the person’s name and identifying number, a few reminders about them, and then whether we wanted to meet them again before we moved on to the next table. . We could choose meet again for a second date, for friendship, or for business. After the event, we’d log onto the website and fill in our choices. If two people picked each other in the same category, a mail would go out with contact info for both of us.
And then we were off.
I don’t want to give a lot of details about most of these guys, in part because I don’t have many — 8 minutes is not a lot of time, y’all — but I’ll share some highlights.
The first guy I talked to felt like he was giving a pitch for a new marketing campaign — he’d obviously perfected and practiced a thing about himself. I did not feel like I scratched below his surface at all: he was so polished and clean. He asked me questions (What do you do for a living? What do you do in your spare time?) briskly and efficiently, and it took me around 30 seconds to just be… done.
Funny thing about 8 minutes: sometimes, it can feel like a freaking eternity, and sometimes, it just vanishes.
When the time came for #4, I misread my card and went to sit at table 4 instead of my actual table. I realized I’d made a mistake immediately after introducing myself to Kyle and sitting down, and apologized, then went to my actual seat at table 6. In an awesome and fabulous coincidence, my table 6 partner was one of the no-shows, as was Kyle’s partner. So I went back, laughing, reintroduced myself, and we talked for a while. He was really nice, smart, low-key funny, and interested. He was very quiet, and table 4 was a loud place, so I had to strain a bit to hear him, but I wanted to strain, so it was all right.
We took an intermission. I got another drink. Next to me at the bar was Brandon! I chatted a bit with him again. I really kind of liked him.
Then the bell ding-a-linged, and we were back in the grind. I went to my 5th date, and it was… Kyle! “Hello again!” I beamed at him. “Where did we leave off?” And we talked a bit more. It was nice. And then the bell rang. Clean cup, clean cup, move down, move down…
The next three were pretty rough. One of them was this guy who really felt like he was trying to perform some kind of mind-control through the intensity of his stare. Break eye contact sometimes, guys! It’s really, really, really unnerving otherwise! You look like Hannibal Lector! The other two I can barely remember. I’d had a little too much to drink by then.
At the end, the organizer told us that since we were short one or two, she knew some of us had only met 7 people, and we were all going to get to 8! So she gave us a bonus cycle. I moved to my table and found… Brandon. “Oh, hello again!” I said. We’d already covered a lot of the preliminaries, so we dug deeper into things we liked. We talked TV: Game of Thrones and Arrow. We talked superheroes in general — Batman, Captain America, Green Arrow. We brought up Doctor Who, which he is not a fan of. We talked SF books. And then the bell rang.
At the end of the day, I wrote down two names: Brandon and Kyle. A 25% success rate felt okay to me.
But the website is telling me, “Nearly everyone at the event was selected by someone, but a match can occur only if you chose the people who chose you. At this time it appears that we do not have any matches to report to you.”
And this is what’s leaving me feeling vaguely sad. This felt like a low-key, no-rejection scenario, but there is rejection in it, and it does sting a little, even with no real investment in the process. I like to think I’ve learned a little about myself, and a little about the real world of dating.