Charity Speed Dating – Monday 12th June

Let's Talk About Sex

A friend from work is arranging a charity speed dating event in Manchester… yes, charity & speed dating… if you are single, whats not to like about this?

Tickets are only £14 for a night too. Oliva is after 15 men and 15 women (its a straight event) and good on TV21 for giving Oliva their room free for the night too.

Join the event and you will spend the evening meeting and talking to up to 15 different people three minutes at a time. All the proceedings go to ICS and the venue is booked for the whole evening so once the main event is over there is nothing to stop you from getting to know that special someone a little bit more.

 

The science..? of speed dating?

Timing gears

Mr 30 not so flirty shared his experiences of a event called datelab. Something I’ve never heard of but it sounds interesting

We are a dating agency for young professionals.
Through psychology + dating science we offer Londoners unique matchmaking services and dating events.It’s time your dating life became exciting and effortless

Like Mr 30, I have also been involved in a few science + dating events. I have done speed dating at MOSI (the science museum Manchester), also took part in BBC’s Horizon dating experiment, even took part in a few other things including that horrible year of making love and more to come soon (if you can’t guess I won’t tell). But unlike Mr 30, I have a real wonder if there really is science? Is the matching and chemisty actually unquantifable?

I find the intentional and unintentional effects fancinating as we try and grapple with the limits of our understanding of ourselves and each other. Throw that into the melting pot with sexuality, identity and diversity all as spectrums not absolutes and you got a unquantifable mess. I find it fun to watch people try and untangle it all.

Anyway I also found one of the things datelab did fancinating for reasons above and from a progressive point of view.

20130213D_8975

Another one I quite liked was the thinking behind getting both ladies and gents being asked to move…. apparently when you sit, you become pickier. I have experienced this with Netflix. For the ladies at most speed dating events, it becomes a real-life twist on Tinder, a conveyor belt of gents (and not so gents)… I’m quite looking forward to the dating company that does a parody real-life version on Tinder.

I can totally understand the effect Mr30 is talking about (that effect I’m sure is part of the paradox of choice; with people feeling much more picky about their choices). But I have always wondered why its the men who have to move in speed dating? This certainly isn’t the case in gay speed dating, I’ve been told. I asked a few times the host of a speed dating event I have gone to a few times. He said its a bit of legacy but also practicaily.

The legacy of course being women are waiting for the suiter to step forward, can’t possibily have women making the first move (don’t get me started!) But also practially, asking women to move around in the short amount of change around time will take longer? (i’m not sure but this feels sexist to me, but its his event and I do find women do put more effort into their clothes).

One of the things which I did find interesting in the MOSI dating experiement was that everybody moved table, but frankly it take a long time due to the massive shifting around. Maybe theres a system where women move one way and men the other? Matt suggested using some kind of gear rotation like system, which had me looking it up in Berlin Tegel Airport while waiting for the plane. Theres a BBC bitesize thing for this. Hows that for science eh?!

I’ll suggest this to the host and see what he thinks…

The science of popularity in dating

I recently watched Hannah Fry: The mathematics of love and I thought it was fascinating, especially the part about beauty, which is taken almost directly from OKCupid’s mathematics of beauty.

It was only a few weeks before I ended up  at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, on their evening sexology event. They had a number of free talks about sex related topics but they also had speed dating.

It’s speed dating, but not as you know it. Although we can’t reveal the exact details of this experiment, you can combine romance with research in this one-of-a-kind speed dating night. It’s fast, fun and you might just find love…

Let's Talk About Sex

The speed dating was like the many times I have been before but this time, there was a number of small differences and a big twist which reminded me of the mathematics of love/beauty.

Unlike other speed dating events, we only got to meet/date 8 women in total. Everybody also moved around each time. I thought I spotted the twist by the women I met (most were from the University of Manchester or MOSI staff), I was expecting something along the lines of my experience first time I ever went speed dating in London.

Let's Talk About Sex

But … I was pleasantly surprised when after filling in my matches form. I was treated to a form with the popularity of the 8 women I had seen. To make this clear, out of the 8 women I had seen, there was a number of ticks next to them, so you could see how popular they were.

The hypotheses I guess being, would you change your votes if you knew the person you picking is very popular. Or even the opposite way around? This got me thinking, would I change my picks? I generally decide on women based on, would  I want to spend some more time with them beyond the 3mins we had?

I decided recognising what Hannah Fry and OKCupid served up, I’m going to play along and only go with the matches who really excited me in the 3mins. Looking at the tickets, there was a mix of unpopular and very popular, not much in the middle.

Right now we (Chris also took part in the exact same thing) don’t know how the matches work out, but I’m expecting the results in the next few days. Lets hope it worked out after filling out a 130+ questionnaire in the name of science, during the process.

Afterwards there was just enough time to catch the last talk which was about pole dancing. I do wish I could have gone to the other talks but they all ran parallel to the speed dating.

Let's Talk About Sex

Generally the whole event was great, but I got the feeling although the speed dating was well thought-out. There was a problem with getting people to commit to the speed dating, but regardless it worked out nicely. As I said before it was the most scientific dating thing I have ever been to, and I have been to quite a few in the past.

Well done to MOSI and I look forward to the next one! Great work… When is the next one?

Smell as an indicator of interest?

DSC00503 alena

A while ago I wrote about the idea of finding partners by smell.

In the modern world of dating theres a lot of gimmicks setup to catch the eye of the potential singles market. Everyone knows about the free weekenders online daters get sucked into. But sometimes something seems so far fetched it might actually work…

One such idea a friend had was the idea of picking someone by smell. Now this concept isnt’ actually new. Pheromone parties were all the range a while back.

The get-togethers — which have been held in New York and Los Angeles and are planned for other cities — ask guests to submit a slept-in T-shirt that will be smelled by other participants.

Then, voila! You can pick your partner based on scent, or so the theory goes.

Interestingly enough,  Zoe sent me a link to a experiment the science museum are doing around the same concept. Nick named, sensory speed dating.

Forget love at first sight – what about love at first sniff?

Feel and sound out your match as we explore the invisible hormonal magnets that draw us together.

Who knows, you might even get lucky…

First of all I’m confused. Is it really speed dating? Is it aimed at getting people together? Why is it open to all ages? Why is there a adult only version?

I did call it a gimmick but frankly anything which puts single people in one place and good to talk will generally get a higher success than doing nothing.

I mean it works for other animals, so go figure!

Finding your partner by smells

In the modern world of dating theres a lot of gimmicks setup to catch the eye of the potential singles market. Everyone knows about the free weekenders online daters get sucked into. But sometimes something seems so far fetched it might actually work…

One such idea a friend had was the idea of picking someone by smell. Now this concept isnt’ actually new. Pheromone parties were all the range a while back.

The get-togethers — which have been held in New York and Los Angeles and are planned for other cities — ask guests to submit a slept-in T-shirt that will be smelled by other participants.

Then, voila! You can pick your partner based on scent, or so the theory goes.

The parties started as an experiment in matchmaking by a California woman weary of online dating, but it turns out they also have a root in science. Researchers have shown that humans can use scent to sort out genetic combinations that could lead to weaker offspring.

The issue my friend thinks is the one dimension of the test. What you need is a range of things to smell and that rating is mapped against others who gave a similar rating.

So say I rated coffee beans (1), vanilla (2) and citrus (3). Then someone else who also rated them in a similar way would get matched with me. Of course the number of items to smell would be something like 10 , 15 or 20.

I know its not a perfect science, but its not much worst than 3mins of speed dating conversation or the hot or not style of dating currently being pushed by the likes of Tinder.

Prays said she’s learned from the experience that while scent is powerful, it isn’t enough to detect a good match.

“Animals have babies and they move on, and that’s what the pheromone party is,” said Prays, who may start including a few pertinent details on the index cards, like a person’s relationship expectations. “The most successful thing about it is, it opens up conversation.”

I did float the idea with the guy behind the speed dating events, and to be honest he did laugh a lot. But even he could be pursued to give it a try in the right conditions. So who knows where this might go?

The quality of OkCupid has gone down for me?

Opimal Cupid

I love OkCupid, its been consistently good for me and for me been streets ahead of the other dating sites. But things are starting to change (as you’d expect). Besides Okcupid being bought by Match.com a while ago its been ticking on, however the industry and environment changed.

Little things changed like the end of journals have happen but the big fear was to switch to a paid subscription model, which hasn’t happened (yet).

So its largely stayed the same…?

However, not so fast… OkCupid lives on its matching algorithm and although you can debate how effective this is compared to other ways to match people… OkCupid stands out for its algorithm, as even Chris (found via Tim who also recommended I read reddit too), the man who hacked OkCupid points out.

OkCupid was founded by Harvard math majors in 2004, and it first caught daters’ attention because of its computational approach to matchmaking. Members answer droves of multiple-choice survey questions on everything from politics, religion, and family to love, sex, and smartphones.

On average, respondents select 350 questions from a pool of thousands—“Which of the following is most likely to draw you to a movie?” or “How important is religion/God in your life?” For each, the user records an answer, specifies which responses they’d find acceptable in a mate, and rates how important the question is to them on a five-point scale from “irrelevant” to “mandatory.” OkCupid’s matching engine uses that data to calculate a couple’s compatibility. The closer to 100 percent—mathematical soul mate—the better.

Hacking online dating is nothing new, we’ve all heard about Amy, the woman who hacked online dating?

Chris’s story is something special and quite elegent…

Chris McKinlay used Python scripts to riffle through hundreds of OkCupid survey questions. He then sorted female daters into seven clusters, like “Diverse” and “Mindful,” each with distinct characteristics.

First he’d need data. While his dissertation work continued to run on the side, he set up 12 fake OkCupid accounts and wrote a Python script to manage them. The script would search his target demographic (heterosexual and bisexual women between the ages of 25 and 45), visit their pages, and scrape their profiles for every scrap of available information: ethnicity, height, smoker or nonsmoker, astrological sign—“all that crap,” he says.

To find the survey answers, he had to do a bit of extra sleuthing. OkCupid lets users see the responses of others, but only to questions they’ve answered themselves. McKinlay set up his bots to simply answer each question randomly—he wasn’t using the dummy profiles to attract any of the women, so the answers didn’t mat­ter—then scooped the women’s answers into a database.

And thats the nub or pressure point.

For any of this to work you need people filling out the surveys… I for example have answered over 700 questions. The problem is I’ve seen a dramatic drop in the number of answered questions and more people with zero questions answered.

OkCupid works best on those answers rather than scraping the profile for data. Chris’s hack wouldn’t work without the data. I’d be very interested to see what kind of results you would get now compared to then…

Anyhow Chris’s story is fascinating, specially when you consider the method and drive. Don’t think I’ll be buying the book yet but if your a maths wiz go for it.

I don’t really know what to do about the data problem for myself. I’m tempted to try Plenty of Fish again, see how much its changed (or not). Frankly I have had little to no interest from Tinder, so maybe time to remove it from my androids. Hacking Okcupid isn’t a bad idea but maybe in a way to remove the time wasters.Heck I even had my first speed dating recently where I wasn’t matched with anyone. Luckily one woman was interested in seeing me, so it wasn’t all bad. I’ll save what happened with another one for my book.

I do keep reminding myself it might just be the season or time of year too. These things seem to cycle.

Speed dating a cure for internet dating?

Speed Dating

My now good friend Northern Lass 32 (well she feels like one) is writing again… This time about speed dating after I advised her that speed dating with online dating keeps things interesting and quite real.

The Manchester based dating blogger Cubic Garden had mentioned to me that he had more success meeting suitable dates speed dating than he had internet dating. So we figured it was worth putting any preconceptions to one side and giving it a go.

Not quite what I said but close enough. I’ve found the dates have come from both about equal but maybe speed dating wins out by a couple.

Preconceptions out the way and they go for it… Its a weird one, I’m not sure whats worst in most peoples minds? Online dating or Speed dating? To be fair I’ve done more than enough of both to go well beyond most peoples preconceptions.

On the way to the club, Dan was also growing increasingly conscious of what to ask when it came to opening questions. It was beginning to dawn on him that this was a night of intensive small talk. “Dunno,” I helpfully advised. “Pay them a compliment, then hopefully they will start asking questions?” We hadn’t thought this through … Dan doesn’t like small talk and I’m nosey so would probably seem a bit interrogate-y. But we had arrived and there was no point backing out.

What do you talk about is the number one question most people ask me… And I refer to the Stanford research on speeddating

Two researchers at Stanford University in California were just as intrigued by speed dating as I was. They found that there are a few key factors of the standard four-minute speed date that predict whether two people are likely to hit it off. They rounded up students to take part in a series of recorded speed dating sessions, then analyzed 1,100 transcripts of the subjects’ dates.

According to the study, men and women most often said they clicked when their conversation focused mainly on the women. Women were more likely to report connecting with men who used appreciative language (like “That’s great!”). Women also reported greater levels of connection with men who interrupted them — but only when they did so to show understanding and engagement (like “Exactly”).

Counterintuitively, asking questions was not necessarily a hallmark of a good dating conversation. Asking questions actually signals a lack of connection, most likely because it indicates that the participants feel the need to put effort into keeping a boring conversation going. Signs of a good conversation are much more subtle, like the variation in speech volume.

While some previous research on speed dating has found that physical attractiveness is the most powerful force determining whether two people are initially attracted to each other, the Stanford study proves there’s more going on. Another study found that speed-dating couples with similar speaking styles were more likely to report a mutual connection.

Its the small talk between a small number of questions. Too many questions and some-things up. To be fair if you can get a load of questions in 3-4mins then your questions are pretty crap and very much yes/no questions leading no where fast.

From inside the cubicle I could hear two girls discussing Dan and how nice they thought he was. Resisting the urge to be the source of mad squealings from behind the toilet door – “Yes – date Dan … both of you … he’s ace!” – I casually walked out and then ran off to the bar to tell him. Apparently a kind of friendship paradox had just occurred, as he too had stood next to a couple of blokes who were discussing how they would like to “give me one”. Aaaaawww … this was turning out to be dead romantic!

This is the factor which is really interesting… After the main event, specially on a weekend. Its a good time to hit the city with a bunch of new friends and a love interest. If your good you might even turn some of those no’s into yes’s in your love interest’s mind. Of course its too late to change the written sheet of but its been known to maybe walk away with a number or three after a night out. For love or forever friends.

It really depends how you look at things but the night is young and opportunities are abound.

The funny thing about speed dating is its almost the total opposite of online dating. You know nothing about each other and your thrust together for a short while face to face. Can you sink or swim?  Can you hack it or will the hackles get you? Its certainly not for everyone but that’s like online dating too I guess.

It works for me, (meeting lovely women and all)  with a certain amount of caution required, as you can see in my last post

Lastly… interesting and lovely to hear Northern lass has found someone and it seems to be going well…

I looked at the details of my match on the email. I knew I wasn’t going to call him. While all this had been going on, I’d been on a couple more dates with the man I’d met on a dating site a few weeks previously.

I’d been honest with him about everything from the start, the Facebook stalking of him before we met to ensure he wasn’t a mass murderer, the writing of this column, the speed dating with someone I had met dating, and he didn’t seem fazed by any of it.

We had entered into that relationship grey area. Though there had been no discussion of us being an item, it just didn’t feel right to be contacting another person

Looks like her post months ago was maybe a little rushed/misguided (remember how it irked me and irked her) and of course adds a little more strength to my argument that Facebook is online dating’s biggest threat.

Hope it all works out Northern Lass 32! Honestly… we’ve only known each other a short while but through her writing and our brief date I feel like I know her a lot more. Good on you…!
And remember 32 isn’t far off 34 *smile* I’m still here and can always be tempted to give out more hints and tips I’ve build up in my wikipedia of dating memory *smile again*

A review of Channel4’s Dates so far…

Dates

Channel4’s Dates is currently on its 3rd episode, next one is Tuesday? As the site says, Modern Dating. It’s complicated… Yes it darn well is… And dates starts to do it justice.

Spoilers below… you were warned!

Episode 1: David and Mia

Loved this episode, so many things about it. The way Mia waits at the bar, the way David is over dressed, the reaction of Mia at the honesty of David’s 4 kids, David’s pin point deconstruction of Mia’s in-security and finally Mia putting her foot in it with the question about her David’s ex-wife. So great and the interplay between them both is something of joy.

Have I ever been on a date with Mia? Not exactly but I have met some very confused woman who don’t know what they actually want from the date or even life. I have also met the female equivalent of David, Fresh faced new to dating. Unsurprisingly I was nothing like Mia to them.

Episode 2: Jenny and Nick

This story I was kind of enjoying but then it took a turn into something quite weird and unbelievable. I admit I have dated a couple teachers in the past and they have been quite a English rose like Jenny.

Talking of confused, lets talk about Nick. I swear the bar they are in only has men except the woman (was she a woman?), who was in the toilet. Nick also has quite a strict personality, he’s the kind of guy I can imagine some woman quite hating. When dating I tend not to, leaving anything expensive alone. Overall the episode was much more stereotypical of what a person who hasn’t been dating recently imagines its like now.

Episode 3: Mia and Stephen

Interesting story this one. Having met before and going through all that, Mia and Stephen go the street for a quick shag (once again like episode 2, I rolled my eyes a little) but it got interesting after the pub. Mia turns nurse and somewhat witnesses Mrs Black’s death. She gets a real feel of what its like to be Stephen. But Mia steals Stephen’s heart and breath at the end.

Interesting to see Stephen at the start and then at the end with a rewatch. Never had such a thing happen to me before, actually the closes story I got to that is seeing the same woman at speed dating again. Luckily things went well on the date, so we just laughed about seeing each other again for 3 mins.

Next week?

The preview looks good, some stereotypical date and a gay date. I’m interested to see if more of the characters we have met already come back, as Mia is a great character and I’m sure she’ll be back.

 

Online dating goes a little like this

Me on how to have more sex

According to Stephen Mount, online dating goes something a little like this.

Person A: Hi

Person B: Hi

Person A: What’s your financial circumstances?

Person B: I’m skint

Person A: Bye

In my experience this is certainly not true. It would be interesting to hear where Stephen is meeting these ladies? The only time I’ve ever had someone challenge me about how much I actually earn is when I went speed dating for the first time and it ended up on ITV 1 primetime.

The woman (who I won’t screen shot for her own sake, although I really would like to) who is person A in the following role-play and I’m person B.

Person A: So what do you do?

Person B: I work for the BBC on a special project which I love

Person A: Oh thats a shame, I heard the BBC don’t pay very well

After a slight delay (I was weighing up in my mind how this would play out)

Person B: Well that only matters if your a gold digging ******

Person A: **** ******* ******** ******

Lets say the next 2.5 mins were some of the most difficult conversation you could have with a stranger…

Luckily its only ever happened once and even more luckily it was not caught by the camera for the ITV viewing public, because that would be too embarrassing at the time but ever so funny now.

How to have more sex?

How to have more sex?

Some of you may have thought you’d seen me on TV recently. The show was not exactly what I had signed up for but it was clear ITV were going to film the event for a show which may or may not get commisioned. Anyway the event was a speed dating event…. Before I go on, I feel the need to explain the reasons why I was there. So since my marriage broke-down I’ve been single and I was getting use to be single again. One of the off sets of this was that I had always wondered what it was like to speed date? I had never tried it and wondered if I would be any good at it. Some of you may say, oh Ian – this is very sad or maybe Ian this is too soon after a break up, but you know what I’ve moved on and i’m not going to sit at home all sad thinking about how things use to be. There may also be an aspect of sadness to speed dating but what better way to meet a load of people who you would never usually meet in one evening?

So being newly single, I decided to give it a try when I saw a advert for a cheap speed dating event in Clerkenwell on a Thursday night in September. The event was 5 pounds instead of the usual 20 plus pounds and all drinks would be free on the evening. The only deal is that we would be filmed, which didn’t bother me so much.

However the footage got used in a programme called How to get more Sex part 2, which was on last Thursday (hell you can even watch it on itv’s iplayer style service or bittorrent.

The lady at Table 13, Janice

Now assuming you watched the programme, you will remember at the first speed dating event the woman (Janice 30 or table 13 – geez should have known by the number) who was talking about plane tickets to america. Well I did give her a yes tick as she was good to talk to, plus she was my very first table. She also gave me a tick, which means that we should have hooked up later sometime but it never did happen. And now I know why. I did at the time think there was something strange about Janice because she was quite talkative before we hit the tables. This also applied to the 2nd guy plant. He was strange, I was following him in the table order and he would carry on pass the bell and a lot of the women I would talk to afterwards would mention the cheesy as hell chat up lines he would use. Now it all makes sense. What was weird was that some of the women thought me and the guy plant were friends because we entered the venue at the same time and we chatted for a while before. Even then he seemed to be very very up for the whole thing.

2nd plant guy or mr strange does his hair

Moving beyond the programme, I did end up going for food with 2 Australian women (who were friends – melissa 32 and
rachel 28) after the speed dating. They were the most normal people in the room and we kind of gravitated towards each other. Everyone else was super dressed up or as I now know, a plant. Us 3 looked like we worked in normal jobs and just came from there. Anyway we got talking about different people who we ticked and didn’t tick. Australian woman 1 (who is wearing a light green top in the filming) talked about the teacher guy (guy plant 2) and how he bored the life out of her. I mentioned Janice 30 but my big story was table 5 (shes on film, shes mixed race, black dress, long curly hair, stylish black glasses and little red bow around her neck). She asked me where I work and I was honest and said the BBC. She then she said quote Oh I heard the BBC don’t pay a lot of money. Taken a back by this comment, I quickly replied well it depends if you let money decide what you do in life?! As you can imagine the next 2mins 40secs were pretty thorny. There was another woman, who I think was there simply to shag someone that night. I can’t remember what table she was and shes not directly in the focus of the camera during the documentary, but she was very much up for going out that same night and something she said made it clear, going out and sex was all she was thinking about.

So would I do the whole thing again? Actually I would, it was pretty fun and enjoyable. I could imagine it being hell if your not talkative or enjoy meeting strangers but I’m pretty relaxed about this stuff. Anyway, hope the pop science experiment was good fun for people watching. I think I pop up 4 times during the segment. Here’s a review which I found amusing about the whole programme (sorry no permalink).

Mr strange using his chatup lines

It was just a jumbled piece of amateurish TV full of primary school experiments that proved nothing to nobody. Even Bravo would have been embarrassed to schedule this anywhere other than the very small hours, but this was 10pm on ITV1! 10pm! A prime time slot on a network station! How did this happen? Unbelievable. Shocking. Why aren’t people fired for commissioning crap like this? What are you doing, Michael Grade?

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