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Speed dating: You can’t buy love but can you hurry it up?

The modern world has completely transformed how we meet our love interests.

The pages of this newspaper are peppered with sweet tales of golden or diamond wedding anniversaries where couples met at a dance or in a cafe through friends or perhaps even in the post office.

Today, we don't have time for a lot of that. Friends are caught up with via text messages or through video call services like Skype and Facetime. So why would our love life be any different?

The dating game has changed immensely since I first entered it a few too many mistakes ago. Even then there was social interaction. Maybe you'd meet at a pub or a gig or the cheap student nights at some club.

Now the superficial side has taken over. It's all quick-time messaging. Looking at a photograph and deciding almost instantly 'you might be the one' or 'nah, not for me'.

But what if there was a time warp? A way of combining old and new so that modern lifestyles are catered for yet the sweet innocence of a beaming smile at a corny joke is not lost when looking for that spark. Speed dating, for example.

"I think people are reluctant to try it," says Anny Evans, aged 30, a host of speed dating events for paid-for website SpeedDater.co.uk

"But it's sociable. Even if you don't meet somebody that way there's going to be nice people.

"Think of it more as an evening out. Don't take it too seriously. You might meet friends, you might meet somebody that you like in that way. But you get to meet them face to face. You are going to know in four minutes if you like something about somebody. You know better than you would online."

SpeedDater offer both aspects. You sign up to the site, paying a subscription fee. You create a profile and then pick and choose your speed dating events near you to suit your lifestyle - with a separate fee for these.

Then, when you arrive you are handed a scorecard - similar to that at crazy golf. You note down names, a few brief things you notice and whether you like a person in a romantic way, as friends, or unfortunately neither. You have four minutes per date, and can meet any number depending on who has paid to attend. On this given night, I had 15 dates to get to know.

Then, you sign in to the website at home, enter your picks and see if they felt the same way. If they did - it's a match. Then the online aspect starts. You can message like a regular online dating app, but the difference is you have already met this person so the ice is broken. It's the best of both worlds.

Changing names to protect identities, some of my fellow daters revealed what they saw in it. Simon, a 28-year-old HR manager from Birmingham, said it was his work/life balance that stopped him meeting people through more 'old fashioned' means.

"I do fitness in my spare time and I also do some work on the side so sometimes by the time I finish it's 8pm and then you've got to get ready for that next morning," he said.

"And when you go out on the weekend you sometimes meet the wrong people in clubs and pubs. I'm not really into that much anymore.

"I've used Tinder, Plenty Of Fish, Match.com [established internet dating companies]. The emotional contact in this is different. Judging how someone responds to your questions; how they talk to you; looking at their emotions and facial recognition. That's how you can really judge if somebody is being genuine or not."

Speed is of the essence - but finding time to date can be tricky

Jessica, 29, from Staffordshire, is a retail manager and was attending with a more relaxed attitude as it was her male friend they were hoping to find a date for. She was his wing woman, per se, and just as well as she wasn't always happy with who she got sat down with.

"There's one guy who was like, 'you would make a good wife'. You don't get that in online dating. You get a few more forward questions here. A conversation is all you're looking for.

"Being a woman you have your guard up a little bit more. I feel like men feel like it's no-holds-barred with the type of thing they can say to you. It's quite good that you get to score people though because you know that even if they say they like you, you have no obligation to see them again."

So some people are concerned about safety. But Anny reassured me the hosts were always on hand to stop bad behaviour.

"Nothing's ever turned nasty," she says. "If we have busy events we always have door staff. You do get people who've had too much to drink - both guys and ladies. You will have to say something. But there's never been a point where I've had to ask a doorman to ask somebody to leave."

So meeting numerous people socially in a safe environment seems to be the pull here - no pun intended. I definitely found hours of messaging back and for with an anonymous human can be saved, the potential of a disappointing first date avoided in a four-minute conversation.

Face-to-face love is not yet dead. And, for the record, I even managed three matches (one as a friend). I am less than repulsive to 20 per cent of women. I'll take that.

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