I Went Speed Dating With A Paper Bag Over My Head


I survived my first speed dating event. I actually had fun. I had been invited to participate directly by Loveflutter, which I’ve covered before. In this social experiment, the hopefuls decorate a paper bag, put it over their heads, and then try to let personalities win over their hearts. The website bills itself as the anti-Tinder celebrating quirky personalities. Here’s what I learned:

We are visual beings.

I mean, the girls were totally checking out the guys checking us in and serving us drinks. Although according to in-house psychologist Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, looks are important but only for short-term mating: “However, if we are interested in finding a long-term partner the initial impression we have of them is really rather trivial.”

So I tried to go against my evolutionary biological mindset and thought if what’s more important are shared interests, values and a sense of humor (#SayNotoShallow), I thought about what questions I would ask. As we started the merry-go-round, I tried to connect with people with whatever they mentioned or used the bag decorations as quick and easy conversation starters but I was still checking out how tall the men were and I could technically peek through the peepholes. Some were confident, some were older, etc. People seemed to liked my design, expressed concern if I could breathe through cellophane. Oh, and unless they asked for my name or where I grew up, no one could tell I was Asian Pacific American because of my blonde hair.

“Life is a series of experiments.”

In this hyper-lapse set-up, the doctor warned me that people will either focus in on making a good impression or zone in on evaluating the match potential. When things are in sync, a chemical high develops. I think I’m the latter–I tried to compliment people. After all, we were putting ourselves out there, paper bag and all. For me, it only took a matter of seconds to know if the allotted two minute conversation was going to feel long or short. What I also found is if it’s what’s underneath that counts, your attitude can beam from under anything. There was one guy who seemed like a downer–not attractive. I tried to make myself a ball of sunshine no matter what number was sitting across from me. It’s better to be relaxed and enjoy the moment. Smile. Be present. Practice being your best self.

Avoid imagining.

Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic says city people tend to be socially adapted to make quick assessments and this speed dating pace is natural for New Yorkers (also, he recognized dating is skewed (read: sucks) when women outnumber men). In the end, about 1 in 4 guys intrigued me. The whole process didn’t seem so unnatural nor silly, as the bag became an extension of myself. Still, despite my relative confidence, I was nervous about revealing my face for some reason. Perhaps it was the build-up. My non-expert opinion is our souls are layered and buried, sometimes masked by alcohol, make-up or other hard shells. After everyone’s bags lifted, I noticed we were all wondering what was underneath on the exterior. You could read disappointment on people’s faces. Blame my superficiality or slight ADD or a guy I’ve started seeing–truth be told–while I’m looking for four letters and a lot of people were nice, some were definitely not my “type,” and no one left me flustered. No matter what the situation, I think there’s just something to say about instant pheromones and inexplicable chemistry…but I’m glad I gave this a fair chance because everyone deserves one. And I also like to try most things out, leaving not much to the imagination.