This past Friday we had the opportunity to attend a Poly Speed Dating Event in London. Now, if you are like me, you probably went “poly speed dating?… How does that work?!” To be quite honest, curiosity was a major factor in our attendance. That, and general misunderstanding that seems to occur when we are all too polite to each other. As in, “oh, I thought you were the one who wanted to go…” At least we are all trying to keep each other happy, I guess.
What happens at a Poly Speed Dating Event?
Before you can begin speed dating you have to sign up. You can register as an individual or as a group. If you are going as an individual male, register early! We were going to go as an individual and a group, but we left off registration so long that it seemed easier just to register together. The registration form itself is a little daunting if you are just expecting to fill in your name and hand over your money. They ask a series of questions to determine who you are compatible with at the most basic level.
A few of the questions asked:
- Do your dates need to match all partners?
- Are you looking for males/females/gender-fluid/non-binary gendered, etc.
- Are you kinky?
Registration, Mingling and Friendship dates
The evening started off with check-in registration and mingling at the bar. We decided to have dinner beforehan, so we missed most of the general chatting. There was an opportunity to do some “slow” 10 minute friend speed-dating while registration occurred. A list of questions was provided, just in case you needed a prompt to get started.
Check in proceeded smoothly, and the dating itinerary was printed quite promptly. Unfortunately, getting the itinerary to the registrants was quite chaotic. One of the organizers stood near the entrance shouting out group numbers, but the venue was so loud it was impossible to hear him. Due to some technological snag, a friend that registered was not given a dating itinerary, just a list of registrant numbers she was compatible with. The organizer’s were very apologetic about the mistake and offered her a refund for the evening. Eventually, everyone was sorted out and speed dating began.
Speed dating started off by us finding our table. Since we registered as a large group, we were always assigned to the same table (yay!); a table completely inappropriate to a group of three (boo). We ended up standing for all of our speed dates.
The actual speed dating process was quite easy. Different people (generally individual women, but a few individual men and one group) meandered up to us according to our dating schedules. We chatted for 5 minutes and then it repeated. All of our slots were full so we did this 14 times, which, even with two breaks, is quite a exhausting.
I enjoyed speaking with everyone we met. Generally, 5 minutes did not seem like enough time introduce ourselves, especially given that our group was so large. We never knew whom in our group the date was matched with, which was confusing. Dating as individuals would have solved this problem, but it was fun and less intimidating for us to engage people as a group.
The venue was very small and crowded, so it was often difficult to hear our dates. By the end I was experiencing some sensory overload with the noise, the crowd, and the slightly repetitive conversations with person after person.
Afterwards, we all hung about and mingled again. It was a time to catch up with people you enjoyed during the speed dating, or cruise individuals you hadn’t meet during the course of the evening. We stayed a while enjoying the conversation, but I was happy to leave at the end of the evening and rest my voice and mind.
Dating in a group vs dating as an Individual
We decided to date as a group and had a lovely time. One of our speed dates remarked that it was nice to be able to see all the partners at once, since choice in partner says so much about a person. Dating as a group alleviated some pressure for all of us, which was key because my girlfriend is quite new to polyamory. It was nice to be able to switch off and let one of the other partners take over occasionally. Additionally, we didn’t have to move around at all because our group was so large.
There were some drawbacks to dating as a group. Primarily, we had no idea who our dates were a match for. We never did devise a smooth way to figure this out. The other big drawback was time. As a large group it was impossible to have all of us talk and go anywhere with the conversation. 5 minutes isn’t much when you are talking one on one, but it is nothing when you there are 4 or more of you.
Group on Group Action
We did get to date one other group during the night. We actually already knew them, so it we can’t honestly speak on the experience, but it definitely seems like it could be chaotic!
A fun night for everyone. My girlfriend, who is a poly newbie, had a lot of fun and my husband did as well. The London Poly Speed Dating organizers have a few kinks to work out (small venue, registration chaos, table assignment) but we’d all definitely go again as a group or as individuals as long as a few of the bugs are worked out. If you are new to the idea of poly speed dating, don’t worry! Grab a partner or two (or more), grab a friend, get registered and have fun!