I’d never been to a speed dating event before. Actually, I’ve never needed to go to one, as I meet people very easily and have some success with free online dating sites. But I was curious about the experience and when I heard there was one planned in Manchester, a couple of hours from me by train, I decided to give it a whirl.
I was also tempted as I have a couple of partners in the Manchester area and I thought it would give me a chance to see them. As it was, one partner was unwell, and the other couldn’t go to the speed dating as she needed to get home using public transport and the event went on too late to make that easy. So, I attended by myself, and that was fine.
I arrived early and found the first floor of a cafe-bar had been booked for the event. I was glad I hadn’t arrived in a wheelchair. The organisers were busy poring over their laptops and arranging tables and generally being as frazzled as you’d expect when you’re putting on a new event and you have no idea how it’s going to work out. I settled into a corner with a pint and made sure I didn’t get in the way.
The doors opened at 7 and there was a queue, some familiar faces from the regular Manchester Poly Cafe Meetup, a monthly Saturday social I sometimes attend. Everybody had pre-registered , some had come as couples or groups, and everybody was issued with a sticky label name tag and identification code. There was an hour of socialising and milling around before the event proper kicked off at 8pm.
We were each given two identical dating schedule sheets, one to fill in for our own records and the other to give in at the end with the ‘YES I am interested’ column filled in. I was initially pleased to see 10 dates on mine, 8 of them with the letter ‘F’ after the person’s code. We were then told that this stood for ‘friend’. This meant I had 8 ‘dates’ with chaps I wasn’t romantically matched with (fortunate, since I’m heterosexual!) and just two with potential romantic (female!) dates. Even more disappointing was in the very first round, my first ‘friendship’ date had gone home. He’d apparently taken one look at the set-up and decided it wasn’t for him, despite registering and coming along.
That meant I sat out the first slot on some communal couches. where I met a young man who’d not ticked ‘looking for friends’ on the registration website. He spent quite a bit of time on that couch, chatting to others who weren’t selected for a date on that round.
My first ‘date’ was with someone I knew already, actually we both share the same partner, and it was good to be able to talk with him about our paramour. The second date was with someone I didn’t know, a chap involved in the Poly Speed Dating ‘organisation’ and I liked him too. These conversations all went very quickly, perhaps just enough time to be able to tell if you liked the person or not, but definitely not long enough to become friends or get to know them any more than a general impression.
I enjoyed my third date. This was my first ‘romantic’ one, and we hit it off well… I thought so anyway! It seemed we were looking for something similar, and we live about an hour apart by train, so that was potentially convenient. But, once again, the bell rang and we had to move on and I was matched with another potential friend… this time someone I knew through social media and their blog. It was really good to talk and to find out that our facebook friendship was perhaps a bit more than clicking ‘like’ under selected posts.
I had another three ‘friendship’ dates and two no-dates rounds, where I found myself chatting with the guy on the sofa again! We ended up talking about dietary choices, not polyamory. The penultimate date was with a highly enthusiastic ‘new to poly’ person who had read about it in several publications and was on the first part of his journey to explore past the theory. I was keen to be friends with him as I’ve been ‘honest non-monogamous’ for about 20 years and have quite a lot of experience which I’m happy to share, if asked.
My final round was a ‘proper date’ and although on paper we were a possible romantic match, it seemed clear that we weren’t instantly attracted to each other, although we both agreed it would be good to be friends and see what happened.
I’d made a few notes on my sheet, mostly peoples’ names plus a note about a highly recommended vegan product I could try, which was one of the the subject of one of the conversations on the couch. I filled in my give-in sheet with five ticks in the ‘I’m interested’ column and gave it in to the organisers. We again milled around and socialised whilst they keyed in data into their laptop. I had a nice chat with a young woman whom I hadn’t been matched with, and she asked why hadn’t we been matched (was this because she liked me?) and it turned out she had put age parameters which I would have been in if I was just a year younger. So, to maximise your chances of meeting interesting people, don’t be too narrow with your age preferences.
Eventually there was an announcement that our mutual matches had been emailed to us and if we wanted to know who they were now, we could give in our notes sheet and the mutual matches would be highlighted. Four out of the five people I wanted to keep in touch with had also ticked me, including both my ‘potential romantic’ dates. I was pleased with this.
So, it was an evening which was fun, interesting and had a potential positive outcome in the romance or love department. I thought the financial cost was worth it, and I met people I might not have met another way. I recommend Poly Speed Dating as one fun way of meeting new people, both possible friends and possible partners.
To keep in touch with Poly Speed Dating, their website is http://polyspeeddating.co.uk/
facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/psduk
and twitter: https://twitter.com/PolySpeedDateUK
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