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Local dating company is helping speed up matchmaking process

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In this fast-paced lifestyle we live today, it's hard to find time for love. But thanks to a few clever entrepreneurs, we can now find it in just six minutes.

Heather Mitchell started the speed-dating company Date or Fate in October of last year, she said. Speed dating is exactly as you see it in the movies, where the men switch tables every six minutes, providing everyone a fair chance at a date.

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She had looked into speed-dating companies in other states and decided it was a fun, sexy business opportunity that people in the Oklahoma City area could enjoy.

"(I wanted to) find people a match and a long-term relationship," Mitchell said.

Because many people don't meet in the "our eyes locked from across the room" way anymore, speed dating is a new way to find that special someone, or at least someone who will pay for dinner once or twice.

"It's hard to find (someone) the traditional way. This helps them break out of their shells and meet new people," Mitchell said. "It's good for networking, as well."

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Date nights are held at restaurants in the Oklahoma City area and usually consist of 10 men and 10 women to keep it even, she said. The different events have age requirements, ensuring that a 24-year-old won't get mixed up with a 59-year-old.

The conversations are very open, she said, although it is asked they are kept appropriate. Daters are given a guide full of questions or topics, but for those skilled at the art of charm, it shouldn't be a problem. And finding a spark shouldn't take too long, Mitchell said.

"Most people say it's enough time. People know that they have six minutes. Sometimes it can be a long six minutes, even," she said.

Each participant is given a match card with every dater's name, and at the end of the night, he or she checks off "yes" or "no" to indicate an attraction, Mitchell said.

All of the cards are handed in, and those who had a match " meaning they checked each other's names " are sent a notification e-mail. What happens next is up to them, she said. Usually everyone gets a match, Mitchell said. One turned into a relationship that has lasted for three months now.

"That is a success story," she said. "So far, anyway."

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For those worried they might run into an ex, much like what happened in the movie "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," Mitchell said it's not likely.

"I haven't had that happen yet. I'm not going to say it'll never happen," she said.

As for what's next for Date or Fate, Mitchell said she is contemplating a few things. While some people in the gay community have expressed interest in their own speed-dating events, she said nothing specific is planned at this time.

Other ideas on the table include a singles' mingle or wine-tasting parties for larger groups, she said. But for now, her business is just speed dating.

"At the end of the night, everyone's so glad they did it. If you haven't tried it, you need to," Mitchell said.

A speed dating event for 35- to 45-year-olds will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Rococo Restaurant & Fine Wine, 2824 N. Pennsylvania. Participants must preregister and pay $25 in advance. For more information, call 208-1034.  "Jamie Birdwell

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