This week we’re talking to dating psychologist Madeleine Mason, about her new revolutionary reinvention of offline dating , called Power Dating.
1. When did you come up with the idea of Power Dating, what was your Eureka moment?
“My Eureka moment was when I was sitting in on one of the lectures run at a leadership development course I help facilitate at the NHS Staff college. We present a model on how people communicate and where
communication sometimes goes wrong. It struck me that a weakness with speed dating is that it doesn’t allow for deep connections in those 3 minutes you spend with a stranger. I then coupled this with the work Dr. Aron had done on how people connect and the research into how to get people to bond in a short timeframe. As a dating psychologist I put two and two together.”
Read more about the 1997 study by the psychologist Arthur Aron, called ‘The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness’.
2. Why did you think it will work?
“Power Dating works because it functions as a ‘crowd breaker’, essentially breaking the ice on a large scale, where people get connected with each other without having to have spoken to everyone else present. To see the transformation is always so fascinating to witness.”
3. How large are the groups of people attending?
“We have typically run events with 40 to 80 people, but there in theory there is no limit. Although I would say 25/30 is your minimum.”
4. How much information do they get about it beforehand?
“Not much, it doesn’t make sense to. I do an introductory lecturette that helps set the scene, and then I guide them through the Power Dating session.”
5. Do they get the questions in advance?
“No, the idea is to generate a shared feeling of being put on the spot. This contributes to the magic that gets created in the group.”
6. Is a particular age group targeted or it’s for any age group.
“It will work on any age group, the onus is on the Power Dating facilitator and helpers who do the logistics of moving people about between the question rounds to make people feel safe to open up.”
7. How are people paired up? Randomly or through a system?
“It is random who you get paired up with. This is mostly because after about 40 minutes you then get the opportunity to socialise with the rest of the group. Now that the crowd is broken so to speak, it makes it much easier for people who fancy each other to approach one another. This is where the magic begins.”
8. Are you participating at all couples interactions one by one?
“I function as a compare, guiding the timings and questions. People are paired up, I ask a question, they answer the question between themselves (taking turns), I stop them after a few minutes before posing the next question. The questions are especially designed to engage and get to deeper levels of connection in a short space of time, unlike the usual awkward silences that occur once you have asked “where do you live? where are you from?” in general dating scenarios.”
9. Did you have any resounding success so far?
“Yes, I had a young chap come up to me 4 months after our very first Power Dating event and beamed that he met his girlfriend there and they were still going strong. I also once got a text forwarded by a friend, from another friend, who had a friend (!) confess to being sceptical about going and nearly didn’t, but had been really pleased to go. We often hear of people arranging to go on dates the very evening of the Power Dating event. The best is to see couples engrossed in conversation towards the end of the evening.”
10. Did anybody refuse flat out to do the exercise with one person?
“Yes. One or two have disengaged, saying they didn’t fancy that particular person and went off to get a drink instead. This is when our mixer hosts step in and make sure no one feels left out.”
11. Did it ever lead to resentful feelings at the end?
“With a person going off? Not that I am aware of. Any issue people have, they normally approach me and I give them a bit of free dating coaching.”
12. What do you think is the future of Power Dating and have you tried it yourself?
“Good question. No I haven’t tried it. I always run them. The future of Power Dating, I think, is that it becomes more mainstream and adopted by other dating event organisers. Perhaps a little training/workshop would be in order to support anyone who wants to do it. I quite like that thought!”
Why do we call Power Dating a new way of dating for the brave? To begin with, it takes a brave person to go to any dating event and openly declare their single status in full view of the “competition” and of many desirable potential dates. Will the person they choose, choose them too?
The questions are going so deep, many might be surprised by their own answer. Self knowledge can take a whole new dimension here. Also, the really brave can add the “gazing in each others’ eyes” bit at the end. Maybe not during the public event, but somewhere more private. You’ve got to try it. It’s truly mindblowing.
Madeleine Mason is Dating Psychologist and Director of dating experts company PassionSmiths. (http://www.passionsmiths.com/
She is Psychologies magazine ‘in-house’ dating blogger on their lifelabs platform, (https://lifelabs.psychologies
You can read more about Power Dating at:
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