Voice of America, March 10, 2011

Sound of America by Tahniat Darbandi

We live in a time that life has more ups and downs. Although the everyday progress of communications technology helps in bringing the people together, making connections has become harder. Speed dating is a look into the time we live in.

Speed dating is a quick way of meeting and coming to know new people for the purpose of finding a life partner. In a group like this, participants sit around a table, and with the person in front of them speak for 3-6 minutes. Then they give their spot to the next person, and this continues till the round circulates to the last person.

Michael Karlan has been CEO of Professionals in the City from 1999 until now, and has been holding speed dating sessions in Washington DC.

Michael Karlan: “We’ve done all different variations of dating. We do black datings, we do Asian datings, we do 20’s datings, we do 30’s datings. Tonight is Muslim dating. This is actually the first time we’ve offered this one and we have a huge turnout for it. We have about 70 people signed up for it. It’s not even the official start time, and as you can see people are already walking in.”

Male Dating Participant: “I tried it myself, like a half an hour ago. It was pain free and easy.I understand it is an easy process. I think it is best that each person share their goals and hopes and sees what happens.”

This method of meeting people started in 1998 and was started by a rabbi (I think) named Yaacov Deyo for the introduction of local Jews.

Michael: “Online dating was popular for a while, and it still is. And you can definitely meet somebody online, but it’s a lot of work. You email someone, you spend a lot of time emailing back and forth, then you meet them and you are just not interested. The nice thing about speed dating is that you can talk to them right off the bat. And you can tell more about someone in 3 minutes face to face than in a month of emailing. The reason for that is because attraction is all about an emotional response; it’s not a logical response. So you can’t look at a list of characteristics and say this is someone I want. When you meet them, you know right away if you like them. Logic just justifies the decisions they make emotionally. So, once they like someone, they then take all these criteria and say, “See, they have all. These are criteria that I like. But really, they already like them and they use logic to justify it.”

A few of the participants give their opinions after the ceremony.

Female Dating Participant #1: “Well, you know, it’s another option of meeting people and networking and all that, and hopefully I’ll meet someone. It’s not a lot of time, so …”

Female Dating Participant #2: “It’s just difficult to meet qualified Muslim men (chuckles) in America (more chuckles) so you know, I am open to exploring different avenues of meeting people. I mean, it’s probably cultural, it’s probably not.”

Michael: “One thing that does really work out really well for speed dating is let’s say you’re a guy, and you walk into a room, and you know that 10% of the women you definitely want to meet and 10% of the women you know you’d never be attracted to. There is this 80% in the middle and those are basically invisible to you. And then you talk to those women through the speed dating and a few of those you really hit it off with, and that’s one of the great things about speed dating. Because, yeah, those women – if you are a guy – that you want to meet, you do get to meet. Speed dating, if you’re a guy, you can meet more women in a night than some people meet in a year.”

The participants can go to the website prosinthecity.com and connect to the people that they have in mind This information is shared with the permission of the individuals.

We gathered the participant’s opinions after the ceremony:

Female Dating Participant #1: “Ahh, I hope that there is more diversity in the future in the attendees, and I would come back – absolutely, yeah. You don’t really get to know the person, but you get a sense from the conversation if this is a person you want to talk to the person again.”

Female Dating Particpant #2: “It was interesting, it was fun. I mean, I got to know a lot of people. It was very fast-paced. You just start the conversation, and the bell rings, so … It’s a different experience.“

Would you say that you had a successful night?

Female Dating Participant #2: “No.” (laughter)

Since the inception of this program, there have been hundreds of marriages where the couple met through speed dating. This program airs in the six cities of New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Boston, and Washington DC. Tania Darband, the Voice of America, Washington.