My experience speed dating with the socially awkward

by | Feb 27, 2023 | Arts & Life

Love is fleeting, so what better way to find it than going to a speed dating event? At least, that’s what I thought when I signed up for NAITSA’s speed dating on February 10.

To RSVP, I had to put down my gender and what I was looking for. I was a bit annoyed that I couldn’t choose a more accurate non-binary option. Nor could I state my pansexual orientation. So, I pressed the button saying “man seeking woman” anyway. 

While I understand that it would have been a nightmare to set up, they advertised this as LGBT+ friendly. Out of all the options, I only saw the L and G in LGBT+ represented at sign up. That said, during the event, they allowed people to sit at some of the lesbian and gay tables if they were bisexual.

I later received a message from the event coordinators saying that they wouldn’t be able to accept any more men. I laughed a bit at the email due to my experience a week prior.

Earlier in the day, I started to get a bit anxious about how I looked. It’d been about 5 years since I’d been on a date and, while this wasn’t a real date, I still wanted to look somewhat good. I spent about half an hour picking out an outfit and set out to NAIT. Then the waiting started.

Getting there early, I spent some time talking with the other guys. Because they had a two to one ratio of men to women, they checked in the women first. This allowed them to ensure that each man seeking a woman was seated with a woman (most of the time).

While they were getting everyone seated, you had some time to talk with your first partner. If you got along with this person, it meant you got to know them a bit better than the others. Regardless, I noticed an anxious silence come over a few tables as I looked around.

Once the actual speed dating was undertow, I was surprised by how much I was enjoying it. As somebody who lives with autism, I’m constantly anxious that I’ll say something wrong. That, or I’ll use the wrong tone and offend somebody that way. So, I went into this to talk to people rather than expecting to get into a relationship. And to my surprise, a lot of other people were doing the same thing.

The event helped boost my confidence immensely. I also felt like I was joining the greater NAIT community rather than sticking to my own niches. It helped me break out of my comfort zone–something we all need to do now that world is starting to recover.

One thing that caught me off guard was how my beaded bracelets became a talking point. A lot of people asked about them, which started most of the conversations I had there. It seems a lot of people there weren’t used to seeing jewelry on somebody who presents masculine. Whenever it came up, I talked about inheriting them from my great aunt. That would always lead to a deeper conversation and removed a lot of the anxiety I was feeling.

A few days later, people were receiving emails with their matches and I was left feeling like Charlie Brown in a Valentine’s Day special. It truly felt like everybody around me had matched with someone. But that’s the deal with speed dating. After a couple days of disappointment, I picked myself up, happy that my friends had found success where I couldn’t.

Despite my initial annoyance and my lack of success, I had a good time. I got to talk with a wide variety of people from all across NAIT’s many programs. I’d definitely go to another speed dating event run by NAITSA, even if it’s just to talk to people.

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