Tired of Swiping Left, I Tried Speed Dating…Here’s How it Went

I Tried Speed Dating - A black, white, and orange illustration of a man and woman eating dinner together on a date.

I’d like to begin by saying I didn’t think I’d find myself here. “Here” being New York City at the ripe age of twenty-seven, as Single as my W2 form gently suggests, looking for love via speed dating. Yet, when I heard about Ambyr, the membership club with a mission to make speed dating cool again, I was intrigued.

When you hear the term ‘speed dating’ you probably have a reaction similar to mine–a memory from an old movie featuring checked-cloth laden tables-for-two and a revolving door of characters ranging from nervous nerd to deranged supervillain. Yet, there I was, off screen, grabbing myself a seat.

I’ve always been a social person who enjoys tasting multiple things on the menu, so you would think I’d find dating to be a fun hobby. But these days, the market for true love and decently priced urban living are nearly the same (read: impossible). I joke that I’ve been on over fifty first dates throughout Manahttan, Los Angeles and dare I say Brooklyn, where if one dude wasn’t droning on about his investment portfolio, another was judging me for ordering carbs. (You guessed it, that was LA guy.) So, with dating app burnout looming in the digital distance, what was there to lose?

Well, after 50 minutes, 2 cocktails and 10 conversations, here’s what I discovered (Spoiler: I didn’t meet my soul mate.)

The Scene is Everything

Just as if you were to meet someone off the streets, the location of where you choose to go on a first date says it all. The speed dating club hosting the event, Ambyr, focuses on highly coveted bars and restaurants (in this case it was a speakeasy in Chelsea called La Noxe). After all, there may not be love on the table, but at the very least there’s a glass of that new natural wine you’ve been wanting to try. I also appreciated that the venue encouraged an upscale dress code. I wore a quintessential New York outfit–all black, with a leather jacket–and since the event was a “happy hour” occasion, it was fun to see most of the men in their post-work attire–from suits to sports coats and jeans. 

There Are Ice Breaker Q’s

Kind of like the first day of school, except the prompts revolve around dating and you’re in an underground bar. Nonetheless, what could be perceived as ‘cheesy’ was actually really helpful for some conversations with men where we didn’t know what to start with. For instance, when I sat down with Roberto (*name changed for obvious reasons), an architect who recently moved to Dumbo from Italy, we were prompted to ask each other what our favorite restaurant in the city was, which led me to learn about the best restaurant in Brooklyn for authentic Italian cuisine. (Now, if you need me, I’ll be at Lilia ordering a slice of olive oil cake for one.)

Oh Yes,  and There’s A Clock

Every date lasts 5 minutes, period. According to Ambyr’s female-founder duo, five minutes is the perfect amount of time to do a ‘vibe check’ with a person and assess if you’re interested in learning more about them. So to do the math for you, that’s 10 mini-dates per hour versus infinite texting with your typical dating app pen pal, whom you likely will never meet in real life. I’ll take the former, please.

All Social, No Media

In this day and age, it’s hard not to, um… ‘background check’ potential suitors before a first date. If it’s not a quick scroll on Instagram or perusing through their Twitter, there is always LinkedIn, which I will admit only this once, that I am guilty of checking via my dad’s account since he pays for premium. 

What’s nice about speed dating is that you put your feelings first, not your future planning. For example, I ended up having a great conversation with a guy named Andrew who works as an Orthopedic surgeon–not someone I would likely cross paths with at work. And even though his job is way different than what I do, there was still so much to learn about each other outside of our 9 to 5. You can’t always judge a post by its cover photo. 

It’s Fun, But There are a Lot of Duds

It wasn’t until my fourth mini-date when I was just starting to settle in and get comfortable, that a gentleman with glasses in a Hawaiian print shirt sat across from me and said, “Hi Samantha.” At first, I was startled by how quickly he knew my name, until I remembered I was wearing a giant sticker with it written in sharpie across my chest.” “Oh, hi!” I responded, “What’s your name?” He wasn’t wearing his name tag. “You don’t remember me?” he questioned. Immediate panic ensued, as I couldn’t think of anywhere that I had met this man. I blushed. “I’m sorry, where did we meet?” Apparently, it was months before at an NFT event I attended for work. He then proceeded to man-splain the crypto industry to me, and actually capped off the conversation by adding that he would like to be introduced to my friend I brought with me to that event! Needless to say, this guy was NFM. Not for me. 

But Also Some Promising Candidates

And then, just as the night was ending, with two more speed dates on the docket, I met a guy who was finally my typical type, a tall Pisces with an ambitious attitude, who works in media and was born and raised in Long Island. He might as well have been holding a bouquet of green flags.

We talked about everything from our love for at-home workouts post-covid to whether it matters if wine is organic (IMO, it does). Those five minutes both sped by and felt like forever. Yet, when it came time to share with the Ambyr team who we were interested in seeing for a second date, I couldn’t bring myself to write his name. Yes, he was my typical type–and that’s just the problem. It was exactly what got me here, dating in the fast lane and still looking for something real. 

Overall, I’m not sorry to say that after diving into the careers, hobbies, and zodiac signs of 10 different men in under an hour, I didn’t meet my future husband. But I did meet new people, form new relationships and make a few friends that I could introduce to the other single gals in my life. Not a bad way to spend an hour.

And if you’re wondering, yes that olive oil cake at Lilia is delicious.

purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor