Yes, People Are Still Speed Dating in 2024

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Everyone Should Be Speed Dating RnTim Morris/ Trunk Archive

Not yet convinced? Here you go: A pre-vetted dating pool! No swiping! Built-in icebreakers! Zero photoshopped bio pics! Also: That image that comes to mind when you hear the term “speed dating” (cue awkward singles hovering around a lonely box of doughnuts in a sad basement venue) is no longer it. Because a newer, cooler, actually effective kind has arrived to offer you the transparent relief that is IRL “scrolling” through potential dates. And driven by ever-present, totally crushing dating app fatigue, attendance at these in-person events has recently surged by 42 percent.

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Generally, today’s speed dating involves paying an up-front fee of around $20 to $50 (a drink or two is often included) for an event near you, which you can find via a quick Eventbrite search. Meetups of 50 or fewer people take place at the type of trendy bars and restaurants you’d actually want to visit, and the vibe is more “fun night out” than “cringey workplace mixer,” thanks to curated programming and games and invitees who are interested in dating with intention.

Are some of the older-school aspects of speed dating still alive? Sure, you may find one-on one sit-downs regulated by timers at certain events. But the fact that everyone present has paid to be there means they’re likely to be taking it seriously, not just messing around as if they’re in some kind of matchmaking video game. Combine that with the prospect of being able to chemistry-test lots of different potential partners in one night away from your couch and...sounds pretty appealing, right?

Like with all things in-person, the scariest part is just showing up, says Maxine Williams, founder of the speed dating company We Met IRL. Then, once you’re there, make use of the expert tips below to get the most out of your evening. Good luck—and feel free to thank us on your eventual wedding site’s “Our Story” page.

First, Hone Your Headspace

Sign up with another single friend to make it feel like a low-pressure GNO. If you get cold feet on the night of, sex and relationships therapist Janet Brito, PhD, says to give yourself an affirming pep talk before you leave. (Think: I’ve got this. I’m brave. This will be a cool experience.) Remember that you don’t have to meet your soulmate for the night to be worth it—just consider it good practice!

Perfect Your Pitch

Before the event, text three friends and ask them what they think would be the most important things a partner should know about you. Is it your incredible work ethic? Your unmatched optimism? Your colorful creativity? Use their answers to inform what you mention to your “dates.” Brito suggests having a loose script or bullet points in mind so that you go into every conversation feeling confident and prepared, which can ultimately help quell any pesky nerves.

Dress the Part

In the same way that you pick your app photos and profile prompt responses to spark interesting chats, you can create natural points of entry IRL. Wear the compliment-demanding statement earrings you got on a trip to Portugal or throw on concert merch from your favorite band. Heck, even your phone background (cute puppy pic, anyone?) can be a conversation starter. You don’t need to go over the top or dress in a way that feels outside your comfort zone, but think about ways to showcase your personality.

Good Vibes Only

If you find yourself in the position of having to keep a flailing convo going with someone who’s perfectly fine but clearly not your person, don’t mentally check out in a way that could make you seem rude to others in the room. (Obviously, if they’re actively offensive, that’s a different story.) Stay engaged and ask about how the event is going for them so far, like you would for a friend. Positive energy is contagious, and your next match/potential future partner may already have eyes on you.

Oh, and in case you forgot, give yourself major props for putting yourself out there—a thing that isn't always easy, especially when you're doing it IRL and outside the "safety" that comes with swiping behind a screen. You're doing the the scary thing! And you're doing amazing, whether you walk away with a match, or a sense of accomplishment for just showing up in the first place.

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