On Saturday 21st of October at 7pm, a random group of strangers with one thing in common will meet for the first time in a dimly lit room in central London. They are likely to be feeling a little apprehensive, but white wine will take the edge off while they are paired up and allocated to tables. Around the room, disparate couples will sit opposite each other, smiling apprehensively, but when the whistle blows, the room will erupt into a loud buzz of frenzied chatter. These couples will not be flirting; they will be ranting, about evil exes, greedy lawyers, useless mediators and the general horror of the divorce process.
Welcome to 'Speed Hating', a brand new concept that turns speed dating on its head. It's the brainchild of Psychologist, Dr Isabelle Hung and TV Producer, Lucy Davis. Davis and Hung both got divorced in their thirties and the experience was so brutal that they resolved to do something to make it easier for other people. They set up Divorce Club, a much needed online peer support network which runs meet up groups around the country that allow new divorcees to connect with other people in a similar position.
Davis and Hung know that talking about divorce is central to the healing process, but as Davis says," divorcees often need to talk about their divorce long after friends and family want to listen!" My own research with women who are divorcing in midlife confirms the therapeutic benefits of being able to get everything off your chest to someone who isn't judging, and more importantly, isn't charging by the hour. I still need a few participants, so if you are female, aged 50+, with children over 18, are employed, and at the Decree Nisi stage in the divorce process, do fill in my questionnaire.
'Speed Hating' is really just an opportunity for people to find a "Divorce Buddy", someone who can cheerlead them through their divorce, swap horror stories and provide emotional support when the going gets tough. Because humour is such a great way to heal the hurt, the 'Speed Hating' event will also feature a "Divorce Swopshop" where you can swop any unwanted gifts/ reminders of your ex.
Hung sees "Speed hating as "a tongue in cheek way of encouraging people to let go of their anger and negative feelings by allowing people to vent, but also by having a lot of fun and meeting others in the same boat". However there will probably be a few people who are not quite ready to laugh the pain away. For them, there will also be a large punch bag in the corner. Sellotape and a photo of your ex are optional.
"Speed Hating" will take place on Saturday 21st October, 7-11 pm at Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SN.
For early bird tickets click here.
To participate in Suzi's divorce study you need to be female, aged 50+, with children aged 18+, employed and at the Decree Nisi stage in the divorce process.