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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 7 December, 2019
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We went speed-dating in Valentine's week. Here's 7 things we learned...

The humanity.

SO, IT’S VALENTINE’s weekend.

You’ll probably have noticed.

In fact, there’s every chance you’ve just woken up in a Nama-hotel bed wondering why you bothered chipping-in for a €200-a-night room (considering the fact that you’ve spent almost the entire stay asleep — waking only occasionally to prod at your partner, marvel at the volume of their snoring, and gently edge them back across to their damn side of the mattress).

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[Shutterstock]

But what of those who haven’t yet ascended to such a dizzying level of romance, companionship and mutual understanding? They’re planning to spend the weekend choking-back heart-rending sobs and cramming Twixes into their big fat faces, right?

Well, I mean, statistically — yes, someone in the country’s bound to be doing just that. But for the purposes of this piece, we’ll be focusing on a more specific group of single people — several of whom may, in fact, at this very moment be sitting down with a cup of coffee to open their inbox and browse through a suggested selection of potential life-partners (work with me, I’m setting a scene here — and ‘potential life-partner’ sounds quite a bit more compelling than than ‘forgettable three-dater’).

This group (as you’ve probably guessed) went speed-dating during the week. Yes, in Valentine’s week. Now, whatever else you think such an undertaking might say about a person, it plainly indicates a certain level of ballsiness.

For that very reason, TheJournal.ie thought it might be worth heading along too.

Two of our top-ten reporters infiltrated a Dublin speeddating event a few nights ago — one guy (man, I suppose) and one woman (girl). Our pre-agreed game-plan: We’d mention no names or other identifying characteristics of those we encountered; we’d focus on our own perceptions of what happened; and we’d relay whatever we learned about the experience as honestly as we could (so others might benefit from our mistakes).

In other words — we went speed-dating so you didn’t have to.

Wow, this is a long preamble. Here’s the ‘male take’…

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This is exactly what it was like. Exactly. [Shutterstock]

1. Speeddating is terrifying

It doesn’t matter how good a people-person you might consider yourself to be, only a sociopath would enter a speed-dating venue without a certain level of trepidation. That said — it’s not quite fight-or-flight territory, more fight-or-hide-in-the-bathroom. A drink or two may help. That said…

2. Don’t drink too much

These events invariably take place in a pub, so it’s pretty easy to become a little too relaxed and forget that you’re going to be talking to 15 women you’ve never met before (some of whom you may even want to try and impress). Humiliatingly, organisers generally make everyone wear name-tags — but that aside, with such a volume of people you’re invariably going to find it difficult to keep track of pretty much any other personal detail they impart if you’ve a few scoops on board.

Ever seen that Mitchell & Webb sketch about the Freemason-style secret society who believe everything always goes a lot better after almost two drinks? Well, they may be on to something.


(Youtube: fanvideos4u)

3. Don’t try too hard

I’m not saying ‘just be yourself’ (that’s almost never a good idea). It’s just, well… You know when Robin Williams makes chat-show appearances and there’s a point (usually around five minutes in) when the host gives him a look that says ‘we get it, just please sit down and answer a question like a regular person’?…

The thing is — if you only have four minutes to impress, it’s pretty likely you will end up trying too hard. I noticed this in myself and in various ‘dates’ I happened to be sitting across from at various stages of the evening. ‘Banter’ that goes nowhere can be excruciating, even after just a few minutes — so it’s no harm to press the ‘reset’ button occasionally and steer the conversation back to more mundane topics.

4. There seems to be a uniform

With one or two exceptions, all the men went for a ‘nice shirt + jeans + suit jacket’ combination. So if you ever go speed-dating and want to blend in, maybe that’s what you should wear.

Then again — from what I hear, that sort of fashion choice occasionally puts women in mind of the progenitor of the ‘nice shirt + jeans + suit jacket’ look. This may not be a good thing.

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[Image: BBC Top Gear]

5. It’s difficult keeping track of all the lies

So, I lied during the majority of my four-minute encounters. Considering the clandestine nature of my assignment — I’d have to say something other than “I work for TheJournal.ie” whenever anyone asked what I did for a living (chances are the next question would be ‘you’re not writing an article, are you?’ — which would just lead to an even bigger lie).

Anyway, keeping abreast of everything I was supposed to be up to in my fictional (and surprisingly stressful) alternate job was a little more than I could handle. Stands to reason that you shouldn’t go around telling massive untruths to women you might want to see again. That said — exaggerate, by all means (sure it’s human nature).

6. Nobody seems to be taking it all THAT seriously

There’s nothing worse than people who say they don’t take themselves too seriously (we’re agreed on this, right?). That’s not to say that people who don’t appear to take themselves seriously aren’t some of the best people going. Now, I may have lost track of this paragraph a little — but the point I’m building up to is that nobody (male or female) seemed to be too eager about the whole occasion. In short, normal folk go speed-dating (this wasn’t a major revelation by the way, but some people have preconceptions about the whole concept).

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[Photocall Ireland]

7. Some of daters will invariably go to Coppers afterwards

Unless you end up with the most anti-social collection of individuals ever, in all likelihood a sizeable bunch will stay behind for drinks afterwards.

At this stage, those still hanging around will (at the very least) be more than a little relieved that the ordeal is over. They’re also likely to quite well-lubricated too — so you can expect quite a bit of actual, non-regimented socialising to kick off. That, of course, opens up the possibility that a smaller number again will eventually progress from simply being ‘out’ and decide to go ‘out out’.

On balance, however — it may be a good idea not to give in to the temptation to extend the night. That is, unless you’re confident all the hard work you put in attempting to appear urbane and presentable at 8pm won’t be undone six hours later by your entertaining but slightly emasculating interpretation of ‘La Macarena’.

[Click back at the same time tomorrow for part II --- the 'female take']

Read: It’s January, and Ireland’s singles are looking for love — so what are the options?

Read: Meet the hackers’ group tackling the Ha’penny Bridge’s ‘love’ problem…

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