A dating service with a difference gives would-be couples just eight minutes to determine the romance potential.
It wasn't exactly love at first sight when Paul Rosenthal, a 40-year-old lawyer met Julie Springer, a 38-year-old divorced social worker for an eight-minute date over coffee one evening.
After all, Springer was one of many dates that night and she wasn't the only one he planned on seeing again
"But she was the one who stuck and that's what counts," says Rosenthal.
The couple, who now date exclusively, met during an increasingly popular program for Jewish singles called "speed dating."
"At our last event, even Robin Williams caught the act," said Yossi Offenberg, adult program manager at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, which spearheads the Northern California speed dating effort.
"I've heard all about this," Williams told Offenberg. "But how can you tell if it's the right person in eight minutes?"
"That's all it takes to know if it's the wrong person," Offenberg replied. "How long does it take you to know if you've got an audience in your pocket?"
Less than five seconds, Williams quipped.
Speed dating sells itself as an efficient alternative to the singles scene, and is making waves from its Los Angeles headquarters to London, where its most recent program was started. There are waiting lists to get into its events in 15 cities and five countries, which also include Australia, South Africa and Canada.
How Speed Dating Works
An equal number of men and women, grouped together by age range, are brought together in a café. Cost ranges from $10 to $20, depending on location.
They circulate, round-robin style, spending just eight minutes with each prospective match. They meet at least seven people on a single date
Participants are not allowed to ask each other what they do for a living or where they're from.
At the end of the night they fill out cards noting whom they would like to see again for a real date. Matches are notified within 48 hours.
"I tried speed dating on a whim, as a last resort," says Springer, who admits she was looking for love in all the wrong places. "I tried the bar scene, dating services, the personals. I would just end up spending an entire evening stuck with someone I couldn't stand."