In the Beginning: Introduction

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In many ways, I’m not the person to write this blog. My story lacks the “We are Young” by Fun. flair that stereotypes many millennial dating experiences. I’ve never had to carry my drunken girlfriend home; I’ve never had a date at a bar in the first place. I’ve never “sexiled” anybody, nor been sexiled myself. I avoided online dating; my wife and I met as college freshmen, started dating at age 19, and were married at 24. So when I write about speed dating, the process of having organized, three-minute psuedo-dates with several dozen women, I lack personal anecdotes describing the painfully awkward experience Steve Carrell (and friends) undergo in The 40 Year Old Virgin. (This scene is rated R for language.)

Dr. Daniel McFarland and Dan Jurafsky at Stanford recently transformed the arena of speed dating from potentially overwhelming social gathering to science experiment. The Stanford professors studied how people “click”, or recognize that their relationship could be more than friends. Previous research suggests that people form dating relationships with those from similar social classes, lifestyles, and geographic proximity. However, McFarland and Jurafsky researched the process of clicking through focusing on the interaction between speed daters, determining what qualities of interaction lead to successful clicking and identifying differences between genders. The speed dating room provides a perfect laboratory, as daters have a mere three minutes to advertise their attractiveness and interests.

McFarland and Jurafsky discovered five significant interactional processes that help accentuate clicking. As we begin evaluating the process of developing commitment through the next few blog posts, I’m mindful that some of these interactional patterns lose precedence over time. Dating involves presenting a pseudo-self that’s more interested in projecting an ideal image than a truer representation of self. As a result, because initial dating experiences serve primarily to impress other people, those on first dates tend to be more expressive of their needs,

Also, to those of you who have speed dated, what were your results? What, if anything, created success, or connoted potential disaster? Awkward speed dating stories are also more than welcome.

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