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I Tried Speed Dating After A *Major* Heartbreak—Here’s What I Learned

It isn't easy to meet people for the purpose of figuring out a romantic connection.
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PHOTO: Pexels

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

More than a decade back, in my late twenties, I came to know what heartbreak felt like. He was my first boyfriend (a lot of firsts at that!) and you know what that meant: Every significant memory was shared with this person, and letting go to build new ones seemed like an insurmountable task. Every happy memory was now tainted with grief — every occasion, every corner of a room, and even the lyrics of certain songs. And who knows the kind of war you are battling inside better than your absolute *real friends*? My little circle knew back then that I’d be wallowing in self-pity and insecurity if I were left alone, so they encouraged me to return to the dating scene.

And what quicker way to set me up was there, than Speed Dating!

For those who don't know, Speed Dating is a formalized matchmaking process that's unlike most dating apps we have now. Here, you get the opportunity to meet a stranger without chatting with him first on an app or meeting him/her virtually. You learn about your “date” for roughly three to five minutes, and the conversation ends at the sound of a bell. Similar to a carousel, the men move around tables while the ladies sit and wait for their next romantic prospect. The anticipation builds as you know each conversation is wrapped around time pressure. 


So to cut to the chase, here are the five insights I learned from Speed Dating—after a heartbreak:

  1. You are way more interesting than you think.

    After a heartbreak, it’s easy to feel unattractive, boring, or all those nasty things we call ourselves to answer why relationships“fail.” But the truth is, if you just look outwards and not inwards (which is tantamount to self-blame), you will realize how interesting everyone is — including yourself. Those mundane things that you do are suddenly inspiring and wonderful, and you will understand that just by immersing yourself in a different crowd.

  2. You are welcome to start again.

    The emotional investment and X years spent on hopes and dreams of a future that is now dead...tell me about it. It is easy for us to cling to the past, to the comfortable, because change means growth and growth can mean pain. And of course, we don’t want any of that. Speed Dating offers a “clean slate” so you won’t be judged by your past self or previous mistakes. You can even be a new version of you, and that’s okay.

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  3. The world is so much bigger than you can imagine.

    I was in my late twenties, my age tip-toeing its way past the calendar, and I thought I had seen it all. But being in a room full of strangers makes you realize that there is so much more to discover out there. There were around 15 to 20 new acquaintances with so many things to talk about, and yet too little time. I had a five-minute peek into a lawyer’s life, learned about a nurse’s struggles, and met a man who made me forget what he did for a living because he was so full of himself. It puts you back into perspective knowing that there are a hundred different journeys waiting for you to explore them — you just have to take that first tiny step.

  1. You accept the love you think you deserve.

    It’s not easy to meet people for the purpose of figuring out a romantic connection. Speed dating puts you on the spot and somehow opens the door for vulnerability. But in this gift of vulnerability, you get to be more attuned to your emotions. I realized in those moments that you share a sensitive piece of yourself—if you think lowly of yourself, and then you're suddenly admired and praised with full attention, it might suddenly feel awkward. It can feel like too much. You accept the love you think you deserve. So if you truly know your worth, love will never feel like too much.

  1. Speed Dating at a glance looks superficial — and in the age of dating apps, it’s probably close to non-existent. But it gave me unforgettable life lessons: to love myself more, that my self-worth doesn't hinge on being in a relationship, and that you shouldn't close your doors to opportunities. Life is not a competition about who gets back on the saddle again fastest.

    While I got matched (hello primitive Tinder!) at the end of the event, I realized that there is really no need to hurry love. If I’m being honest with myself, it truly is okay to pause and feel the loss of a relationship. If I’m being truly raw and open, it’s about rediscovering who you are after all the odds that you’ve been through. Healing is not something you should rush, and a rebound relationship is not always a good decision.


And in case you're wondering, I eventually married the love of my life. He's not someone I met from Speed Dating, but I am now aware that self-love isn't bad at all.

About the author: April Kristel I. Llana is a doting mother to two lovely children. She cooks and bakes her worries away, and continues to advocate for inner healing and self-care.

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