6 Things We Learned at Sensory Speed Dating
November 30, 2016 by Olivia
From music festivals to London and New York City, 2016 was a big year for Sensory Speed Dating! Adventurous daters all over the US and the UK threw their blindfolds on and found out how our senses tingle our desires. Here’s what we learned.
Today’s online and app-driven dating culture has trained a lot of date-seekers to rely heavily on “love at first sight”. For Sensory Speed Dating, we really wanted to challenge that notion by using scientific research that looked at making real connections. To test whether the eyes really are the windows to the soul, we had audience members gaze deep into the eyes of a stranger for 60 seconds straight without making a sound. And it was a mixed bag of awkward discomfort and serious sexual tension. At one event at the House of Yes, only four people out of a possible 33 match pairs mutually liked what they saw enough to want to know more about the mysterious stranger in front of them. Meanwhile, the same exact round at Symbiosis Gathering led to full-on make-out sessions during the event. So what does research say?
Maybe it’s knowing that you can literally “dance like no one is watching”, but dancing blindfolded seems to be a crowd favorite in New York City, Symbiosis, Mysteryland, and Secret Garden Party! At one House of Yes event, at least sixteen people mutually enjoyed the experience, so much so that they felt like following up with their mysterious dance partner, leading to a respectable 8 connections out of the possible 33.
Out of each sensory experience, the taste round led to the most romance of any other. We crunched the numbers from our House of Yes events and close to half of the crowd either enjoyed feeding a stranger or enjoyed being fed by a stranger! Maybe it’s not so surprising if you consider the science of food sharing in primates.
Scientists who studied our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, found that feeding each other led to higher levels of oxytocin. Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “love drug”, is a hormone also found in humans and plays a role in feeling a bond with others. So on your next date, why not try feeding your (potential) partner?
Smell is our least appreciated sense, and few people realize the role it plays when it comes to choosing a mate. Sensory Speed Daters have said how surprisingly intimate and sexy smelling their partner could be—but many asked if temporary perfumes and colognes have a real effect.
Despite what the billion dollar perfume and body spray industry may tell you, artificial smells may be covering up your opportunity to attract your perfect partner. A scientific study in the 1990s nicknamed the “smelly t-shirt experiment” had men wear t-shirts for several days. The researchers then had women rate the attractiveness of the scents, and claimed that women’s t-shirt preference correlated with more genetically compatible mates. The study, unfortunately, failed to account for same-sex attraction, but this is definitely something scientists continue to look into.
#5 Nutmeg = Viagra for rats
Thanks, science. But why should we care? Turns out rodents are genetically, biologically, and behaviorally pretty similar to us humans so studying the effects of nutmeg on rat libido gives us a first pass before scaling up and studying exactly how food items like nutmeg can affect the human libido.
Go on, try out your sexy voice. Did you “vocal fry”? Get “husky”? Go for a higher pitch? During the sound rounds, to get everyone acquainted with each other, we asked participants to tell their partner an embarrassing story using their sexiest voice. Most people slowed their speech down, and lowered their voice. One scientific study found that women were more successful at making themselves sound sexier than men (regardless of sexual preference).
It was also interesting to see how speed daters felt after their “embarrassing” conversations. Research shows that sharing intense feelings with strangers helps develop intimacy more quickly. It sure seemed that way at Sensory Speed Dating, where daters who did truly share an embarrassing story said they had an easy and enjoyable time briefly chatting with their partner.
So those are some of the top things we learned from running Sensory Speed Dating this year. Why not try it for yourselves on a first date or a date night with your significant other! And if you want to try #SensorySpeedDate for yourself, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to hear about our next events!