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Last year online coupon company Groupon hosted the world’s largest speed-dating event, with 414 attendees crammed into a restaurant in Chicago.

Start-up companies now meet with investors, pregnant couples interact with doulas, and homeless dogs court potential owners, all using the speed-dating format.

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If you're a basic member, Speed Date lets other users initiate with you a five-minute instant messenger chat session, or "online speed date"; subscribers can extend that time.When you view a profile, Speed Date tells you what preferences your potential date matches, what preferences you match for the other person, and finally what you have in common, even if it's only that you both speak English.Whenever I clicked on anything, most of the time I'd see a pop-up window exhorting me to sign up for the paid subscription. Despite stipulating that I was interested in 25- to 40-year-old liberals in San Francisco who did not want children, 18-year-old militiamen from Montana who wanted to impregnate somebody ASAP kept popping up for my speed dates.Speed left me exhausted, annoyed, and kind of grossed out." When you fill out your profile, you have the option to answer many questions—about your favorite music, movies, television shows, books, and quotes; about your political views, income, weekend activities; even about your "secret." You can be equally detailed regarding what you're looking for, yet Speed Date's Private Matchmaker system doesn't take much of this into account.Knowing how your environment influences your mind-set, a quality known as ecological rationality, can help you make the choices that are best for you.

Decisions, Decisions Traditional dating can seem haphazard, contingent on seemingly minor details such as whether you signed up for the right yoga class or patronized the same bar as your future love interest.

During a series of mini dates, each spanning no more than a couple of minutes, participants in a speed-dating event evaluate a succession of eligible singles.

They make split-second decisions on matters of the heart, creating a pool of information on one of the more ineffable yet vital questions of our time—how we select our mates.

I made some beginner’s mistakes; however, I am not alone in having struggled with speed dating.

Even if meet-and-greet matching events might seem like the most efficient way to comb through many options at once, a wealth of data reveals that the context in which we make a choice weighs heavily on the outcome.

I guess it's a good way to judge if they really are employed. "Also, it seems like there's no real matching, and I wasn't really into anyone I had a speed date with. I felt vaguely dirty even being there." She said: "... Was it called 'Speed Date' because you have to be on speed to keep up?