The social stigma of singles events
Speed dating and singles events are now more popular than ever but they’ve still to find a mass market appeal amongst single people. In this blog post I share why I think people are still embarrassed to come to singles events.
Firstly – I love dating psychology and trying to work out the meaning of love as much as the meaning of life so I spend a lot of time wondering where this embarrassment comes from… and why.
“…we had already met and shared 4 minutes of flirting so we knew there was a bit of a spark already. It was like skipping to the second date without all the awkwardness.”
Perhaps it’s just me but when I went speed dating originally in 2019 I never once thought about it being embarrassing. I didn’t know anything about it and went in with no expectations other than to have a laugh. I had a really fun night and got quite a few matches. I went on dates with a few of them and it was then I fell in love… not with them (well that time)… but with speed dating as a dating method. The dates were so much easier than the first online dates. We had already shared the experience of the speed dating night, we had already met and shared 4 minutes of flirting so we knew there was a bit of a spark already. It was like skipping to the second date without all the awkwardness.
So I often wonder why, after 50 events and the many, well what must be hundreds, of people I have discussed dating with, do singles events still come with a stigma.
I guess the signs were there from the start… back in 2021, just as covid lockdown had ended, we started to approach popular venues in Belfast city center to discuss their event space.
With one such venue, a trendy multi floor bar and nightclub in Belfast, we’d set up a meeting with the venue manager (who we’ll call Jim for the sake of the story) and enquired about the possibility of hosting an event there. We didn’t even get to say which type of event it was initially as Jim launched into all the details and covered most of the costs and setup arrangements before we had a chance to say what we were planning. . ‘This is going well’ I thought before announcing to Jim ‘so the event itself is a Speed Dating night’… that’s when it all changed.
’Speed Dating? Does that even happen?’ he asked before continuing ‘oh nooo we wouldn’t do anything like that’. I was a bit perplexed.
We started to explain the concept as we could tell he wasn’t sure how it worked. It wasn’t happening much in Belfast at that time so we constantly had to explain how it all worked in those early days.
“the words speed dating and single set off alarm bells for him”
After we explained it to him we went on to talk about the benefits to the venue. We’d bring 35-40 people down on a midweek night, pay the room hire, put money behind the bar and introduce the venue to people who may not have been there before. Looking back now, explaining this to Jim was a waste of time – he had already checked out and made up his mind – the words speed dating and single set off alarm bells for him.
He told us that it wouldn’t be something he’d be interested in hosting as they wouldn’t like an association with being a ‘singles bar’.
‘Fair enough’, we thought, it won’t be for everyone. We thanked him and left shortly after feeling a little embarrassed, almost as if we were missing the punchline to a joke that only he understood.
Thankfully, since then, other venues were happy to have us and some of those we continue to work with today. Most of them love the concept and it provides the venues with a bit of a buzz on what would otherwise be a quiet night.
Over the next 2 years we continued to see the same embarrassment as Jim had shown. Whether it was comments on our social media posts, conversations with others or meetings we had where we introduced our business and events.
So why are singles events the elephant in the room when it comes to finding love – well here are some of the things I have come up with as to why this is:
- Being single is seen as a sense of failure
We live in a world full of imagery and everybody has access to show (or show off) their lives. It’s a constant competition just to appear that you fit in and are living a normal and happy life.
“…having a family and a partner are one of the main checklists to living a ‘successful’ life”
As you get older you appreciate that what you see online isn’t the whole story and that fear of being judged starts to subside (thankfully). Yet no matter the age we’re constantly bombarded with images of smiling couples and movie love stories that only make us feel good if the guy gets the girl or vice-versa. As marriage, religion and other societal norms have faded, modern culture still dictates that having a family and a partner are one of the main checklists to living a ‘successful’ life.
So how does this relate to singles events? Well my theory is that people don’t like to be seen to be single. They don’t want their friends, family and work colleagues to know that they are searching for a relationship and are using all available options.
“people don’t like to be seen to be single”
- Ego – admitting that you want a relationship
How many times have you heard a woman say ‘I don’t need a man’? Or a man say ‘I’m happy being single’
I’m totally onboard with these as I’m sure that person will get by just fine – but there’s a difference between needing and wanting. It’s common that I hear these from people who are dating 3-4 times a week on the apps – the words don’t match the actions.
Ultimately I feel that it comes down to showing that you’re vulnerable… and no one likes to admit that to themselves never mind those around them. This has been true for men for as long as I can remember where up until recently showing vulnerability was a slight against a mans masculinity.
For women the last 100 years has been an empowering age of independence where its never been more popular to be part identified as a ‘strong independent woman’ or be part of a girl gang or girl only community.
Then there’s online dating which has changed the scene so drastically. You see, online dating is safe … not in the ‘lets meet in the woods for a coffee’ type way. Its safe in that it will let you protect your ego from risk of rejection and that brings me to point number 3
- Comfort zone
Most people hate rejection. The only thing worse than being rejected online is being rejected in person. It’s easy to be rejected online by a stranger you’ve never met. There’s a million excuses to be made as to why….
‘Maybe he met someone else’
‘Sure she doesn’t even know me – if she knew me then things would be different’
‘Sure we only chatted a few days’
‘Maybe she’s married’
Some of these are perfectly valid but they all are ways to protect our ego but in order to date… and love .. you have to show vulnerability. You have to run the risk of being rejected.
“…to date… and love .. you have to show vulnerability. You have to run the risk of being rejected.”
Nobody is going to knock on your door and ask you out. You have to meet and expose yourself to a lot of people to first know what you like and dislike so that once you do find someone you click with you are ready.
I’m not saying these reasons apply to everyone but every time i hear people say ‘oh please make sure i’m not in any photographs’ or we see comments under our social media posts such as ‘lol i’d die’ etc i often wonder what are those people afraid of? Is it being judged? Is it being rejected? Is it being ridiculed?
“We make sure our events are welcoming and that everybody feels safe. We try to ensure an environment where nobody is judging you for being single”
Perhaps there’s another reason entirely but ultimately we strive to help people get over the stigma. We make sure our events are welcoming and that everybody feels safe. We try to ensure an environment where nobody is judging you for being single. We’re all single at some point and coming to an event to meet people in real life comes with little risk but high reward.
So if you’re ready to take the risk head over to our events page and sign up for one of our singles evenings – then let us know what you think after you’ve given it a go.