Etiquette for Speed Dating Events: The Do’s and Don’ts

Speed Dating - Couple on a Date - Chronometer - Dos and Don'ts

Have you ever tried speed dating? If you have, then you know that this scene can be a fun but slightly overwhelming experience. It’s definitely not for everyone—if you’re an introvert or on the shyer side, it’s gonna be a tough sell to get you to go.

Why? For the uninitiated, speed dating is like dating on speed—we mean the illegal stimulant king. We joke, but seriously, it’s a lot. You are going on quick mini-dates in rapid succession, and although it sounds like it will be a sea of faces you won’t remember, it somehow works, or else people wouldn’t be doing it!

We ship speed dating because it’s akin to a dating app, only IRL! So, if you’ve never been and are thinking about giving it the ol’ college try, we have a handy list of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to etiquette for speed dating events. Think of us as your Emily Post; we’ll help you get through these quick-fire dates like a pro and leave good (maybe even great) first impressions!

Pull up a chair—you can sit for this blog, but when you’re speed dating, you’ll have to switch seats a lot if you’re the dude.

What Is Speed Dating?

Think of speed dating as lil’ mini-dates. The goal of these quick dates is to help singles meet multiple potential romantic partners in rapid-fire succession.

The speed factor is to maximize the odds of meeting someone compatible. Here’s a quick rundown of the fundamentals. If you want a more detailed understanding then be sure to check out our Speed Dating 101 article.

Structure Graph

The Structure

  • Timed Meetings: Daters are allowed to interact with each other for a set amount of time, usually around 3 to 8 minutes.
  • Rotation: Once the time is up, daters rotate to the next person—this continues until everyone at the event has met one another.
  • Scorecards: Participants usually get scorecards to keep track of those they found interesting or with whom they felt a connection.
Goals Graph

The Goal

  • Brief Encounters: The point is to give daters a short but sweet interaction, enough to gauge if there is any interest or chemistry.
  • Expanding Connections: It provides an opportunity to meet and interact with people they probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with in their everyday lives.
Process Graph

The Process

  • Registration: Interested participants need to sign up for the event, either online or in person.
  • Orientation: Organizers often begin with a quick presentation to explain the rules and structure of the event.
  • Initiating Rounds: Participants start their first date when the host signals to start their dating engines, often using a bell or buzzer when it’s time to switch.
  • Feedback Submission: After meeting everyone, participants turn in their scorecards, indicating which people they’d be interested in seeing again.
Follow Up Graph

Follow Up

  • Match Notifications: Organizers tally up the scorecards to identify matches—cases where two people mutually express interest in each other.
  • Contact Exchange: Contact details are shared with mutual matches, often via email, so they can further interact.
Location Graph

The Environment

  • Neutral Venue: Speed dating events often take place in a neutral venue like a cafe, bar, or a dedicated event space.
  • Relaxed Atmosphere: Organizers try to create a low-pressure environment, encouraging relaxed and organic interactions among daters.
Diversity Graph

The Speed Daters

  • Diverse Participants: Events might be open to all or could be organized around specific age groups, interests, or demographics to increase the potential for compatibility.
  • Equal Numbers: Ideally, there’s an equal number of daters from each gender to ensure everyone has the same number of dates!

In a nutshell, speed dating is a structured yet casual way to meet many potential romantic partners in one setting, aiming to spark connections and facilitate follow-up dates among participants who mutually find interest in one another!

The “Do’s” of Speed Dating

The “do’s” of speed dating is super important—in other words, you need to “act right.”

Dress to Impress

Appropriate Attire: Wear an outfit that makes you feel great—just don’t show up looking like a schlub. Wear clean clothes and make sure there isn’t a huge coffee stain on your shirt; just use common sense.

Grooming: It’s weird that we have to advise this, but it needs to be said: Take a shower. Brush your hair. Put on deodorant. Sorry, but we need to cover all the bases.

Be On Time (Or Early)

Arrive Early: Get there with time to spare so you can acclimate to your surroundings and don’t look rushed or stressed.

Be Attentive

Active Listening: Show genuine interest by actively listening and responding to your date.

Eye Contact: Maintain appropriate eye contact to show engagement and interest—but not too much eye contact; that’s unsettling. Remember to blink!

Be Genuine

Be Yourself: Show up as you, and don’t put on any fake airs. People can smell posers!

Honest Interaction: Engage in chats honestly—don’t lie to impress anyone.

Be Mindful: Always respect others’ personal space and emotional boundaries.

Graceful Acceptance: If someone isn’t interested in you, be gracious about it.

Keep it Light

Avoid Heavy Topics: Steer clear of overly serious or controversial topics. In other words, don’t trauma dump—the person sitting across from you is not your therapist.

Be Positive: Maintain an optimistic and fun tone when chatting with your dates.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Encourage Dialogue: Ask questions that require more than a yes/no answer to keep the conversation going so you can avoid those awkward silences.

Show Curiosity: Be open to hearing about their life, interests, and views.

Be Respectful

Value Time: Understand that each session is time-bound, and never overstay your welcome!

Politeness: Be polite and courteous, irrespective of the chemistry (or lack thereof).

Remember Names

Active Recall: Try to remember and use your dates’ names during mini-dates to make interactions more personal.

Mind Your Body Language

Positive Gestures: Check your body language—is it open to interaction? It should be! You want to be inviting (but not too inviting).

Avoid Defensive Postures: Don’t cross your arms across your chest or appear like you’re ready to bolt at any second.

Take Notes

Jot Down Impressions: Use your scorecard or a notebook to write down your impressions or things you liked (or didn’t like) about each date.

Maintain Discretion: Make sure your note-taking is subtle.

The “Don’ts” of Speed Dating

Now that you know what the “do’s” are, you need to be aware of the no-nos!

Don’t Overshare

Avoid TMI: Keep certain personal details, like past relationship woes or financial matters, under wraps during speed dates.

Be Mysterious: Keep some details close to your chest so they can find out more about you on a future date!

Don’t Dominate Conversations

Avoid Monologues: This is not a cold open on SNL—the conversation should be balanced so both people get to talk.

Steer Clear of Interrupting: Let your date finish their thoughts without interrupting them.

Don’t Get Too Personal

Skip Intrusive Questions: Respect privacy and stay away from super personal or sensitive topics.

Respect Boundaries: If your date seems uncomfortable with a topic, change the subject immediately.

Don’t Be Dismissive

Value Their Time: Even if you don’t feel a connection, be polite and attentive until the mini-date ends; don’t roll your eyes or let out a big sigh.

Avoid Physical Cues of Disinterest: See the point above about not rolling your eyes or sighing.

Don’t Ignore the Format

Respect Time Limits: Stay within the time frame allotted for each date—even if you’re really into the person across from you.

Follow Event Guidelines: Don’t ignore the rules provided by the organizers.

Don’t Get Distracted

Avoid Phone Usage: Put your phone away and give your full attention to the date.

Ignore Surroundings: Focus on the person in front of you rather than other dates happening at the table next to you.

Don’t Be Rude or Offensive

Mind Your Language: Be careful with jokes and comments to avoid unintentionally offending your date.

Avoid Negative Topics: Don’t complain or throw shade at others—there’ll be plenty of time for that if you end up becoming a couple! Some of the best romantic partnerships (and friendships, for that matter) are formed upon mutual dislikes!

Don’t Discuss Ex-Partners

Skip Past Relationships: The topic of exes can be uncomfortable and is not cool for a first meeting.

Focus on the Present: Engage in topics that allow you to get to know a little about the person in front of you.

Don’t Create Pressure

Avoid Future Planning: Steer clear of discussing future plans or second dates during the interaction.

Maintain a Casual Vibe: Keep the conversation light, fun, and free from future expectations.

Don’t Disregard Feelings

Avoid Leading Them On: If you’re not interested, ensure your words and actions do not suggest otherwise.

Be Kind: If expressing disinterest, do so with kindness and understanding.

Final Thoughts

Whether you leave with a handful of matches or none at all, look at it like this: Every mini-date was a chance to meet and connect with someone new! You may not walk away with a new romance, but you did the thing, and you’re better off for having done it!

And who knows, maybe the next speed dating event will lead you to the person or your dreams.

Molly Davis
Molly Davis

Molly is an East Coast writer who lives on West Coast time. She’s been in the journalism field for over 20 years — newspapers are her first love but she’s finding digital media to be just as fun and challenging as print! When she’s not giving therapist-quality dating advice, she’s curled up watching movies, reading, or volunteering at local dog shelters.