New Rule: The 5-Minute Date

I had a date the other night. It went pretty much the same way every single online date I’ve ever had has gone.

We met for a drink and when I laid eyes on him I really wasn’t attracted physically. I wasn’t repulsed either, he just wasn’t someone I imagined I’d ever want to kiss.

I could pick him apart by saying I didn’t like his hair or his body type or the way he kept saying “Exaaaaactly, exaaaaactly.” But there was nothing really wrong with the guy. We just didn’t have any chemistry.

After a few minutes of not horrible but not scintillating dialogue, I think we both knew there wasn’t a connection. Yet we still spent about 75 minutes engaging in uninspired conversation – putting in the appropriate amount of time required for the sake of decorum.

As you recall, the same thing happened with the geeky question bot. In fact, it happens far more often than not when I meet someone online. Regardless of how someone looks and sounds onscreen, you can’t know if there’s chemistry until you encounter him face to face. And most of the time, sadly, it just isn’t there.

Light Bulb!

Light bulbI would like to propose a radical idea that could save everyone’s time: the 5-minute date.

I got this idea from one of my favorite movies, “Waitress.” One of the characters, Dawn, gives every first date she meets five minutes – whether they like each other or not – just five minutes. That way if the guy makes her sick she doesn’t waste a whole evening. (Watch clip here.)

I think this is effing brilliant. Most of the time, you know whether or not you’re going to want to see the person again within the first 300 seconds of meeting. Why bother putting in any more time if you know it’s going nowhere?

I could be a real Pollyanna and think, hey, I get to meet someone new and learn about him and maybe he could help me in my career or give me some travel tips… it’s always great to make new friends!

Whatever. As lovely as that sounds, we’re busy people and we’d rather spend the precious little time we have writing, or cleaning the toaster oven, or catching up on Seinfeld reruns. Because at the end of the day we know what this person really represents: another disappointment.

But back to the positive — the 5-minute date. Hell, I’ll even give him 10. Is it possible to suggest this to a date without sounding crazy?

How would you respond if someone proposed this idea to you before you met? Before you jump and say “Yes!” — really think about how it might make you feel. And be honest!

49 replies

  1. Hi there! I’ve also had some pretty hideous net dates, during which the 5 min thing definitely could have come in handy… There was one guy, with a urine infection – I got the details, not impressed! That’s why I decided to start plugging the Safari Supper Club concept – it’s a fab night out even without the dating element, but throw a bunch of singles into the mix and you have a top night of great food, fine wine and stress free chemistry testing! You know your stuff, check it out and let me know what you think?! Would you ever give it a go?!

  2. Hey Single Girl,

    This concept is actually kind of already out there. OKCupid launched the site, about 2 years ago with that exact concept, except for them I think the commitment was 20 minutes. I don’t know why the site is down now, but should be back soon. Happy hunting 😉

  3. I would like to propose a radical idea that could save everyone’s time: the 5-minute date.

    I got this idea from one of my favorite movies, “Waitress.”

    I use a similar rule of thumb when selecting movies. Takes far less than 5 minutes.

    According to the link “The Waitress” is a movie about “Jenna… a pregnant, unhappily married waitress in the deep south.”

    Game over. Took 5 seconds. You couldn’t pay me to watch crap like that.

  4. Ugh! I’ve had the same experience with online dating…that’s why I quit. I like the 5-minute date…like speed dating. I think it’d be a fun night out with the girls to go speed dating, and hopefully meet someone. It’s hard though, whenever I do go out…anywhere and I try to have the whole “Polly” outlook (Polly was the Black version of Pollyanna back in the late ’80s), I get disappointed. But, what’s life without hope, right? Right???

  5. This is why I hosted speed dating events–ha! But then you meet 20 people for 5 minutes each that you aren’t feeling attracted to, so it’s still a wash. Sometimes I have to admit…I can warm up to a guy if I’m initially not attracted if he has a great personality or is interesting in some way. It takes longer than 5 minutes to find these things out I think.

    • Yeah, I understand that. But then, if you meet someone in a bar, let’s say, you wouldn’t spend an hour talking to someone if you KNEW you had no interest, right? Like the guy with the gold chain and sweatpants who keeps staring at your boobs? The 5-minute date is like meeting someone in a bar. It just prevents the need to spend a lot of time with the definite no’s.

      But I can appreciate that five minutes is pretty extreme. Maybe 20 minutes is more like it in reality. Or maybe it’s the word “date” that’s misleading. Maybe it should be “5-minute Sussing.” 😉

  6. I do love this idea. I can think of several occasions during which I would have loved to have used this. Instead, I had to spend several hours coming up with excuse after excuse (“ah, my friend is begging me to go to this party…” “I have to run 20 miles tomorrow…” “I just got asked to do some extra work before tomorrow morning…”)

    The worst thing for me is that somehow the guys I’ve been on the WORST dates with somehow had an AWESOME time. And they didn’t get the hint that a. I was trying to ditch them and b. my subsequent ignoring of their phonecalls meant I did not want to repeat the painful process once again.

    • Yup, I’m a big fan of fun. But sometimes just sitting on the sidewalk with someone you’re clicking with is far more fun than an amusement park with someone you’re not feeling, dontcha think?

  7. Great topic pick as usual. Keep it up and your blog will beat Roissy.Wordpress as the most interesting place for dating discussion.

    Normally, I would think 20 minutes would be courteous with a great excuse (business) for it not lasting more than that. This qualifies as “meeting for a drink” and the other person can feel that you did fit them in politely into your busy schedule. You also don’t want to give too much information out about yourself to someone you plan to reject so don’t blab about yourself during the 20 minutes. But the real issue is when you really could be using the time meeting another specific person where time is limited.

    I have this very issue today. A friend set me up for a date at 6PM with a 24 year old (I am over 40 but look early 30s) but I already told a nice 31 year old woman that I would like to watch a movie with her on DVD at my place after work tonight and she said that sounded cool and asked me to call her today to confirm whether we will do that or not.

    While I am not concerned at all that the 24 year old will not find me attractive, I am very concerned that I will not find her attractive and I’m setting things up whereby he introduces her to me as a very busy guy who is in the middle of a major deal and may have to return to the office quickly. I may be able to shave it to 10 minutes.

    A key thing guys check for is the smell of cigarettes on a woman’s breath.

    The second woman also has to know tonight may be super busy for me. In some respects it is a good problem to have (two dates quasi-scheduled for the same time), but it adds stress to life when there are time conflicts like this.

  8. So true. I totally believe that you can sum up whether or not a date is going anywhere within five minutes. Why torture yourself with having to dream up a escape route for the closet exit or giving your friend the heads up to call you with an “emergency” to allow you to break free. I was on a bad date that lasted over an hour and a half. Wish I had the guts to look at my watch and say “whelp…your 5 minutes are up and just walk out.”

    • Yup. In many cases, both people know there’s no connection, but they sit there for more than an hour just to be courteous. This just cuts through the BS.

  9. I personally would be very depressed if I went to the trouble to go out and meet someone and they were watching their watch for the 5 minutes to be up. That would not even give you time to order a coke and talk a bit. “Sorry your 5 minutes are up. I don’t like you, bye bye.”

    • Well, the 5-minute date would have to be agreed upon by both parties prior to the meeting. That way, no one gets their feelings hurt.

      But I get it, it’s not for everyone. So I think Love in the Dumps and I should really move forward with our new website, so those who are on board can sign up and those who aren’t can stick to the more traditional dates. I think it’ll be a hit!

  10. I really and truly believe that you know within the first minute or so whether there is any possibility that you will see each other naked. No exceptions. The connection is instantaneous, and whatever happens after that only serves to confirm or deny this initial impression. Just my two cents.

    • two of the greatest loves of my life where with men that I didn’t immediately find attractive. It was with time (and good humour and geeky vulnerability) that they won me over and my life is all the better for knowing them. (One I met in my 20’s, the other in my early 30’s.)

      Just sayin’.

      • This also happened with two of my friends – they weren’t initially attracted to the guys, and now they are both happily married to them. But, neither of them met the guys through online dating. One was a neighbor and the other was a friend of a friend, so they were able to get to know one another in social situations, with mutual friends, without the pressure of one-on-one dates.

        I’ve tried to date men I don’t immediately find attractive – I give it several dates, hoping some chemistry might develop. But it hasn’t happened for me thus far. This isn’t to say it never will, but we usually base our behavior on past personal experiences. And there are times when you’re just REALLY turned off and you know there’s no point.

  11. Ideas like this are why I’m not sure I’m going to assimilate back into dating at all, much less well once my divorce is over. Are you kidding me? 5 minutes to get to know someone? What’s next? A cue card list of the questions that have to be answered within that 5 minutes circulated by fliers over the city before the date? Why not just put an assembly line in at the front of your door around 7pm every Friday night to weed out all the unqualifieds too?

    What are women expecting in 5 minutes? Balloons, fireworks, and a singing, dancing Mouse w/his own amusement park to pop out of the guy’s mouth to entice you? You’re turning an act that’s designed to get to know someone over time, dating, into a job interview where you’re telling someone “Impress me or get the F out.” Even relationships that work perfectly take YEARS to refine before you fully understand someone. How can you judge someone’s prospects accurately in 5 minutes? That’s turning a process of love into something so cold and procedural it won’t work the way it’s supposed to. How can you find love when you’re immediately putting procedural limits on how it comes to you? Love’s magical, empowering, and most of all, unpredictable.

    I believe in The One being out there for everyone and it’s going to take time to sift through the billions that aren’t them to find them, IF you do at all. But shortening that process isn’t going to get you there faster, it could just make you throw The One out inadvertently IMO.

    • Wow, I would looove for a dancing mouse to pop out of the guy’s mouth. That’d be AWESOME!

      But seriously, of course there is no way to get to know someone in five minutes. That’s not what the 5-minute date is about. It’s about determining if there’s enough mutual attraction to go on a bona fide date-date.

      The 5-minute date is designed to protect both parties – male or female. I’m sure men have been on dates in which they instantly know they don’t have an interest in dating the woman. In the first five minutes, people usually have one of three thoughts:

      A) Yes! Me likey!
      B) Hmm, not sure, but I’ll give her/him a shot
      C) Not interested. No way, no how.

      The 5-minute date helps people weed out the C’s.

      But if it’s not for you, I respect that. Thanks for sharing your opinion – I was hoping to hear both sides.

      • So, it’s a mini-date to determine if there’s attraction there for a formal date? Okay, that changes everything. Sorry I misconstrued the point. That’s why this fledgling to-be divorcee’s turning to you experienced daters for the lay of the land before it swallows me like quicksand. I thought it was shortening the dating process but in actuality, it’s just micromanaging and extending it, I guess.

        I can see that from purely an attraction perspective but in reality, if you’ve already met the person, in theory, there should be no need for that anyway as you’re already in “Yummy” or “No Way” territory on whether you wanna see what’s under the clothes and potentially go further. From what I understand, women size guys up and throw ’em into datable or friend zone faster than 5 minutes already so that’s actually giving guys more time as it is which is always a plus for us old-fashioned slow-pokes like me 😉

    • I’m suddenly on Brewers_rule’s side. he’s right. If you adopt this 5 minute thing you’ll be 5 minute dating until you look in the mirror and are no longer so good looking. We’ll start extending those 5 minutes but it’s TOO LATE! We will be old and ugly and will REALLY have to settle!!

      • hey, what about me – I was sayin’ the same thing! Where’s my “goddammit woman, when you’re right, you’re right”, eh?

        I’m human, just like Brewers_rule; I need to be loved too – show me some love…

  12. I am TOTALLY for this. You don’t waste your night, and you report your scores online like a tennis ladder ahahah. Then if you both score 4 or 5, you go out again. Genius!

  13. The ten minute date sounds all right.

    Not a fan of this internet gizmo / gadget online dating.

    Meeting people in person is far better.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I’d much rather meet someone in person. The guys I’ve dated for any significant amount of time I met in person. Sadly, I don’t go out that much, so it becomes difficult and I try the online thing from time to time. Haven’t given up hope yet!

  14. The best way I have found to meet someone is to be socializing in some kind of group where you meet the same people often with a slow rotation of new faces. That way there’s no pressure, have the time to look for that potential someone.

    You already know what I’m talking about so I won’t reiterate. But its the best way to meet people.

  15. I like the idea. I actually think that most men would be into that. Men don’t like wasting their time either and it forces you to be on your game right away.

    This actually reminds me of the 10-minute rule that I enacted last year after having been a wingman for my friend and spent over 2 hours entertaining this VERY unattractive woman. I still have nightmares of her “backing that ass up” into me on the dance floor. I remember see my friends pointing and laughing the entire time from the bar. Anyway, so in situations like this, the wingman is only obligated to spend 10 minutes doing his wingman duties and he is free to come up with any excuse necessary to leave.

    The 10-minute rule can be applied to so many different things. I’m a definitely a fan.

      • Nope, it was one of our other best friends, Jimmy. However, Bernie was one of the guys who was pointing and laughing. NEVER AGAIN! And the worst part is he only got her email because she supposedly had a boyfriend. FAIL! The only bright side is that I was unofficially awarded the Wingman of the Year award that night and the option of using Jimmy as a wingman in any situation that I require. Believe me, I’m saving it for a good one.

    • The thing about speed dating is that you have to shell out $40 for each event without pre-screening any of the candidates, so you have no idea who’s going to turn up. You could get 10 (or fewer) princes or 10 frogs. It’s a bit too much of a gamble for me. Online dating is actually more economical. If speed dating were free, I’d go for it.

  16. Now, isn’t this what Speed Dating is all about? I have done more than my fair share of internet dating (to reasonable success – met 24 dated 4) and I have once brought a date to an end, within an hour because I didn’t feel ‘we’d work’ and he seemed OK about it, but I did later feel that that was a crappy thing to do and so, I’ve not done it since. Rather suffer the tedium than risk upsetting someone. It’s only one evening, how busy are we, really?

    • yeah and also, I think going on too many dates is not particularly helpful. Slow down, meet up with the ones that really tickle your walnut – you Americans are too fast-food, everything. Personally, if the guy had bad grammar and couldn’t/would ride a bicycle or grow a beard then there would be no point in meeting up. For those who could, well, hell, I think I can spare a few hours to let him settle in/warm up.

      I am currently single, if you live in the UK and can match all three specifications, call me!

      (note to editor – sorry for pimping out your blog.)

      • I’m the same way, I’d rather suffer the tedium than risk upsetting someone – which is what I’ve been doing. But the beauty of this is that if both parties agreed to the 5-minute date prior to meeting, no one gets offended!

        I’m actually very selective – almost to a fault. I’ve been on three online dates this year. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know if someone tickles my walnut (love that expression) until I meet him in person. I’ve been on dates in which the guy seemed terrific online & on the phone, then when we met no one’s walnut was tickled.

        And pimp away, girl! Just keep in mind I take 20% 😉

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