Research says we know within three to 30 seconds of meeting someone if we are interested in getting to know them further. Three to 8 minutes - the average time of a speed date - should, theoretically, provide plenty of time to give a thumbs up or thumbs down.
But what happens when participants wear blindfolds?
I know what I'm attracted to visually, yet the science of attraction says that we overestimate the importance of looks. Numerous studies have shown that factors such as biochemical odors and vocal pitch are subconsciously matchmaking for us. Like intrusive friends trying to hook us up with the "great guy" at their job or church, our senses are trying to find us a worthy mate. They know we can depend too heavily on big blue eyes or chiseled chests, so they focus on searching for health and vitality, honesty and stability.
Outside The Box Dating is a Charlotte-based speed dating service aimed at getting people of different backgrounds to talk to each other. It's based on the premise that love can sometimes be found where we least expect it. The "visionless" event that I attended prescribed that everyone would wear blindfolds for the duration of mini-dates (but we would take them off for the mixer afterwards).
When one of our senses is diminished, our other senses pick up the slack. That is why wearing a blindfold in the bedroom can heighten our hearing and our taste - making it easy for a partner to tease and tempt us.
Despite the blindfold, I still ran into regular speed-dating problems. I went in prepared with a few original questions, but the 4-minute dates were ultimately still reduced to telling people I am from Wisconsin, root for both the Packers and the Panthers, much prefer the weather here, and that I work in health care. I wasn't able to reveal much about what makes me "me," and, likewise, I wasn't able to elicit much from my dates. Regardless of where someone was raised or where they work, I want to know what makes them laugh. I want to know what they are curious about. I want to know how they spend their Sundays.
Still, the blindfold made me aware of other sensory cues. I paid as much attention to what my dates were saying as how they were saying it - their tone, inflection, friendliness, accent, laugh. I was also more conscious of my voice - did I sound friendly enough, clever enough, interesting enough?
If blindfold speed dating isn't for you, check out Out of The Box's other events.