Man and woman enjoying a cocktail. Speed dating.
photo: Corbis

It’s difficult to meet a nice, normal (emphasis on normal) man when you live in a big city. While I was able to start dating a guy steadily just three months after getting out of an eight-year relationship, getting back on the bandwagon wasn’t easy. It’s even harder when you work in a predominantly female environment. Right now I’m not necessarily interested in seeing someone, but I am open to meeting people, which is why when a girlfriend of mine suggested I try speed dating, I said, “Sure, why not?” Background: I’m the kind of girl who thinks online dating is too impersonal (I’m super old school, I know).

Still, going into the speed-dating session, I thought, What do I have to lose? Surprisingly, I discovered that speed-dating can actually feel really empowering because the setup offers a sort of even playing field. It also gives women the space to do things on their own terms — no one can ask you for your number.

There are a couple of different speed-dating events out there, but most of them function the same way: You sign up, pay a small fee (which usually ranges from $25 to $45), and just show up. We went through a New York City–based site that holds events in Manhattan. This particular session was held at a small Irish pub in Midtown.

I went in expecting to meet desperate, awkward, lonely losers, along with a few psychopaths and potential serial killers. But I actually met some interesting, cool, and even attractive guys and enjoyed my time. A few of the dudes really had their shit together, too! In fact, I think speed dating is kind of awesome and I highly recommend it — but it might not be the place to meet your soul mate.

When my friend and I arrived, we were immediately greeted by one of the speed-dating hosts. They asked us to wear name tags and gave us a sheet to write down the name of all of our dates and take notes to help us remember them. There were around 20 guys and 20 girls at this event, and you only got to speak with each date for five minutes each — tops. Trust me, the time limit was helpful!

It’s basically ingrained in women that the man should make the first move and ask you out first, otherwise you’re called “aggressive” or “forward” or whatever else people come up with when a woman asserts herself. But in speed dating, the playing field is evened out because you get five minutes with everyone, no matter what.  

The other cool part about it is, no one could ask for the other person’s information — all you can do is talk for five minutes and that is it. If you’re interested in someone, you log onto the site the next day and check off the names of the guys you’d like to see again. If you match, the site will provide you with the dude’s e-mail and you can reach out to him.

I only picked four guys and those same guys picked me. I’m not going to lie, most of them started emailing me almost immediately, but I took a lot more initiative than I normally would, responding promptly, giving some of them my number, and engaging in interesting conversations. I still haven’t decided if I’m actually going to go on a date with any of these dudes or not. Regardless, it was still a great experience, and it taught me that YES I don’t need to wait for a guy to show up in my life!