The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper

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Sex and Relationships

On your marks, get set, date!

Modern love (or lust) is in the grip of Tinder - so why is its now archaic ancestor, speed dating, still going steady?

Our society is bristling with ways to make everyday activities faster, better and more efficient. Valentine’s Day is on the horizon and as we prepare to drown in a sickly tide of crimson and pastel advertising, many people are preparing to turn to the bulletproof relationship generator that is Tinder. Whether it’s to avoid a lonely night trying to spear a spoon into a frozen lump of Ben and Jerry’s, or to seize this annual tide of romance in the hope of forming a long term relationship, people are accomplishing their aims faster than ever through the nexus of online dating.

Rather than opting to disguise a rant about Tinder in a tediously polite rhetoric like many have done before, I instead want to focus on the human desire to make dating and love a much swifter and less complicated process. From the days where the Roman empire was the eminently elite yolk of cultural advancement, marriages were swiftly decided and not made out of childish passion, cheesy love notes and wilting flowers from the Sainsbury’s growers section. Instead, almost all relationships were decided on by the families and parents to procure wealth and influence. Though effective and time saving, it can’t exactly have been a confidence booster to know that your parents had to step in and help you in the world of dating and love.

In 1998, the first speed dating event took place at Peet’s cafe in Beverly Hills. The concept of
speed dating was conceived by Rabbi Yaacov Deyo as an innovative way for eligible Jewish singles to meet and marry. The movement quickly swept across North America, until bars were full of clocks chiming to signal the beginning or the very swift end of a new relationship. One quarter of the bars in New York today still offer speed dating at least once a week. Though the format sounds fun, I have known it to end horribly for people that have accidentally ran into family members or ex-partners at this event. Imagine trying to remove the mental trauma of seeing your grandmother at a speed dating event?

My point here is that throughout history, we have made substantial efforts to remove the difficulty of a traditional meeting and dating process. I believe this is primarily due to our fear of the unknown and the risk of investing time unnecessarily in trying to find someone with similar interests, looks and beliefs. For some, the effort that this requires can be nothing short of intimidating and nauseating. What if the person I’m about to approach isn’t looking for the things I want? Why put in the time and effort when I don’t have any security in knowing that I’ve got at least a few things in common with this person. Hence, the inevitable ‘swipe left’ option of the digital age was born.

Though I sympathise with this fear of the unknown and sometimes inevitable rejection, I think that there is something to be said for walking up to a complete stranger, with no prior knowledge about them, and generate a conversation out of thin air. It is becoming a rarer skill that is more revered than frowned upon. Rather than swiftly cutting corners to love and relationships, why not try the unthinkable and do all the legwork yourself? When you try this, the relationship will instantly feel more valuable and worthy of your commitment.

If you like the sound of speed dating, the University of Portsmouth Student Union is holding an event on the 12th of February at 7:00PM in The Waterhole Bar. If you have a surprising or
disastrous night, then feel free to share your story with the Galleon team.