Nova Scotia

Why more people in their 20s and 30s are choosing speed friending

What seemed like the easiest question on the playground — do you want to be friends? — can be terrifying for many Nova Scotians. That's why a Halifax entrepreneur has launched a new "speed friending" event.

"Speed friending" pairs Haligonians looking for a non-romantic connection

Making new friends after university can be daunting, says the founder of Speed Dating Halifax. (CanStockPhoto)

What seemed like the easiest question on the playground — do you want to be friends? — can be terrifying for many Nova Scotians in their 20s and 30s.

That fear is the reason one Halifax entrepreneur launched a new event that offers an alternative to the annual hoopla of Valentine's Day.

"It is quite hard to make new friends," Jean-eva Dickie, the founder of Speed Dating Halifax, told CBC's Information Morning.

"So I wanted to create an event that really honoured what is important in my life as well as what I feel Halifax needs nowadays."

The concept works just like traditional speed dating. The 12 people who signed up for Tuesday's three-hour event had five minutes to speak with everyone else who attended.

Dickie said she heard all kinds of reasons why people were there. There was a woman who'd recently come out of a 12-year marriage. There was a man visiting Halifax for a few days and looking for company.

While Dickie spends her working days absorbed in romantic love, she said it's the friendships she's formed that mean the most to her. 

But friendships come with their own complications, according to researchers at Dalhousie University and St. FX University who are studying the contradictions inherent in non-romantic relationships. 

Laura Eramian, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University, is interviewing Nova Scotians about their friendships and how they feel when they fall apart.

What makes friendship so appealing — the fact that there's no written contract or rule — can also makes it fraught, she said.

"So unlike with romantic relationships that come with lots of cultural script and rituals for how to end a relationship … there's really no such equivalent for friendship, and so people tend to struggle with that," she said.

No rule book for friendships

People can feel blindsided when a friend decides to end things, and unlike marriages or other romantic relationships, the person who was dumped may never know why.

"So people are caught in these cultural expectations in a way. On the one hand, we like to imagine that we can say absolutely anything to our friends. On the other hand, the one thing you're not supposed to talk about in a friendship is the state of the relationship."

Dickie, in her 30s, said for anyone who's conflict-averse like her, it can take work to maintain a friendship when things get hard.

She said the trappings of adult life leave little room for people to step outside their comfort zones and make time to find new friends. 

"Relationships are relationships," said Dickie. "We sometimes have single guys that become friends at my speed-dating events, and I almost think that's nicer then when I get couples."

"Speed friending" was such a hit Dickie said she plans to make it a monthly event. 

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With files from CBC Radio's Information Morning

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