Firemen, Cougars and Athletes ... Oh My!

A friend of mine recently forwarded me an email from OnSpeedDating that promoted their upcoming event — "Date a Cougar Night." As soon as I read it, I knew I had to go. What unique concepts this company has! Despite the Boston Globe recently saying I'm "in my 30's" (misprint), I don't qualify for cougar status. Plus, I like my men older. I signed up for "Playing with Fire," where all of the men were fireman. A man in uniform? Who can resist! The fireman concept really made it fun. Rather than just speed dating based on age, I felt like I knew a little bit more about what I was getting myself into. That's really the NY based company's thing, too — creating niche events that start with a shared interest, background, or preference.

All of this speed dating inspired me to write eFlirt expert approved speed dating tips that will work in any city.

1. Deal Breakers.  Think about what is important to you in a mate and make sure you bring up those topics. Qualify your date like a credit card approval. If you couldn't date a smoker, ask.

2. How To Deal with Silence.  Hopefully in 3 minutes, the conversation won't lull. Shouldn't you have a lot to talk about? Trust me, sometimes it happens. Don't panic: play 'this or that.' Chinese or Japanese food? Uptown or Downtown? Beer or Wine?

3. Chemistry.  It's a huge part of a successful relationship, but be realistic. It's unlikely you'll experience fireworks in three minutes. If you're not attracted to them though, don't check yes! You're instincts are not going to change.

4. Eat Before You Go.  Simple, right? Well, I didn't and after a glass of wine my notes got very interesting. (Next to the guy who fist pumped me, I wrote "blow it up.") Just take my word for it and go with something in your tummy. You'll be there for a few hours and don't want to die of starvation or risk not having your usual alcohol tolerance.

5. Take notes.  In the beginning this will feel weird, but you're meeting a lot of people in a short amount of time. Write down something that will remind you of your conversation. Don't forget to write their name and last initial! There might be a few Mikes or Kerrys.

6. Utilize the Breaks.  Usually there is an intermission where you can mix and mingle. Also, after speed dating is officially over, you can hang and chat with people you met. I recommend you do this! Hang in the corner and have a mini-date. You were on the same page after 3 minutes but will you still be after 15? This goes back to the dating efficiently topic. If 15 minutes doesn't work out, a real date won't either.

7. Dress to Impress.  Pretend this is a first date. It is a first impression, after all. You want to make sure that you appear just as fantastic as you would having dinner together. Not everyone dresses for the occasion, but this can only work in your favor. Let's face it, you don't go speed dating to be a wallflower. You'll be noticed this way.

Hopefully you'll find your next honey through your online life, but checking out events in real life can be successful too. For Sarah and Aresio it was; they met at OnSpeedDating's Speed Date a Volleyball Player event. Sarah moved from Portland two years before the volleyball event and "hadn't had much luck navigating the NYC singles scene." Once she met Aresio though, she kissed her single-hood goodbye and they now live together in Brooklyn.

Another tip? If you are intimated by speed dating, check out SingleandtheCity . It is owned by the same company, the events are still based on unique concepts, but it is a singles mixer atmosphere sans the three minute intervals.