There is a famous survey that was commissioned asking people what their biggest fear was. Walking into a room full of strangers came out top. Death came third.
In my job, I sometimes have to network. For those who are not familiar with the process, let me outline the issues. First; the insertion of oneself into a group of strangers. It has to be a group because going to another individual is a cop out. Then, you have to wait for that one person who would not STOP TALKING to take a breath for you to then say something (witty and insightful). You can’t leave it too long not saying anything because people will wonder after a while if you’re mute, foreign or wandered into the wrong group. Not to mention the drama of what to do with your arms. 5 minutes prior, your arms occupied no space in your mind at all and then you step into the sanctum and suddenly your arms are all you can think about and you have a paralysing concern that you look like an exhausted chimp.
If I’m like this at work, multiply this by 15 million and you’ll understand what I am like in social / romantic situations. I do not proactively talk to guys on nights at all…well unless I’ve had at least 3 Sambuca’s and then I suddenly think I’m Holly Golightly. The bizarre thing is that I am a very sociable person and I’m a bit of a show off amongst my friends (replace “bit” with “massive”). However the biggest show offs are often the ones who have something to cover up and mine is rejection which I’m not afraid to admit.
Therefore I had my concerns when I signed up to go to a match.com singles event. First I’m going to stop referring to it as a “singles event” because it’s not cool (I’m waiting for someone to mention it in a sitcom and it can become acceptable and even then it would be quoted ironically). I’m also going to share with you my cliché fears around “nights like this” –
1. It is full of desperate needy women all out for themselves
2. It is full of desperate sleazy men who have no concept of personal space
3. You end up cornered by someone you don’t want to be
4. You have your eye on someone but they unceremoniously give you the cold shoulder
However, because I am one of those super positive people – the kind that you want to punch in the face when you’re having a grumpy day – my attitude is that if you always thought about the negatives of every situation, you’d never leave the house (this has just reminded me of a slightly related story of a date I went on recently and I told him I was doing a bungee jump the following day. “Don’t people break their backs doing bungee jumps?” he asked. Not cool bro). So yes I was scared and sceptical (what a stunning combination) but supported by my wing (wo)man who I knew would yell at me to start talking to people, we went to the match.com night at the Parlour Bar in Canary Wharf.
The event itself didn’t feel like an event – in a good way. I treated it like an after work drink thing but useful to know that everyone in that room is single. Sensibly match.com offered a complimentary glass of Prosecco rather than a line-up of Sambuca shots but they promised more free alcohol if we played along with the movie themed cards they handed out which was a cute ice breaker.
The concerns I listed above didn’t materialise and now that I’ve been to a match.com night, I do feel obliged to defend any misconceptions people have (because I had them myself). We’re all busy people, it’s tough approaching people on nights out because of the risk they may already be in a relationship or general rejection and everyone knows for all the profiles you see online, really it’s when you meet them that you know if there’s any potential. Now, if only match.com organised work events…