Single South Suburbanites who find dating difficult are willing to try their luck at a faster take on love.
A group of singletons ready for a fast-paced, date-filled night gathered Feb. 9 at Chicago Blu in Frankfort, for a shot at speed dating.
Some would liken speed dating to a series of quick-hitting, back-to-back first dates. A male contender files up to a table for a minutes-long sitdown with an available woman, whom they have not met prior to that initial contact. The two sip drinks, make small talk and attempt to make a connection. They talk careers and passions, hobbies and music preferences. As they chat, they take notes on a "score card." He's cute or great laugh. After time runs out, a moderator rings a bell and the man moves along to the next. At the end of the night, each dater indicates which fellow dater they'd like to speak with again. The moderator plays matchmaker with a follow-up email, and the two take it from there.
Nerve-wracking? Sure. Awkward? You bet. Successful? More than half of the time, said Pre-Dating Speed Dating moderator and professional matchmaker Shelley Torsan.
Eighty-seven percent of the speed daters end up on two or more dates together, and the initial in-person interaction could do the trick, Torsan said.
"Speed dating is designed to work in a way that is opposite of any type of online dating," she said. "I firmly believe that in order to establish if there's true chemistry between two people, you need to meet face-to-face, you need to be in the physical presence of one another."
The daters are grouped by age, interest and location. Some came willingly—others were coerced by friends or coworkers. A female divorce attorney admitted she had to practically drag her male coworker into the bar. A few noted they would prefer that their potential partners also live in the suburbs, or nearby. Many have tried online dating, including match.com, eHarmony.com, or PlentyofFish.com. Most wound up in the same bar because whatever they were trying, wasn't working.
"I've dated by a grandma setting me up before, so that didn't work out really well, so I wouldn't recommend that to anybody," said Amanda Jurgensen, 22, of Worth.
The constant circulating of dates might work better for some than others, said 22-year-old bachelorette Ashley Jaquez, of Tinley Park.
"I think I'm so nervous, it takes me five minutes to get comfortable, and then I only have two minutes left when I'm not shy, and then they're gone and I'm nervous again!" she said.
But the daters don't have to feel pressured, Torsan said.
"You might not meet the one you're going to marry, but people make really good friends this way, good business contacts this way," she said.
"Try it, do it. Put it on your bucket list. Everybody that I encounter has jittery nerves coming into it, they don't know what to expect. But at the end of each event, I have people telling me they had such a great time. They leave very happy, and they're a little addicted. They want to come back for more."