This morning I woke up to find some link love from Harvard Extension School here in Boston. Back in May, I wrote this post and they linked to it for Valentine’s Day in a story about two students finding true love. (They’re #50 on my list.) I think this is one of my better posts in terms of concrete, actionable suggestions.
My husband’s away on business today but I’ve been invited to dinner with my BU girls. Honestly, Valentine’s Day is just terrible. It brings misery to so many people, especially in this sexual marketplace. More breakups happen on February 15th than any other day of the year – not even those in relationships are safe! Here’s my best advice on how to find a partner. It boils down to pursuing your interests and getting out of your comfort zone.
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You will not meet the love of your life if you stay home. You may happen upon them if you hang around with your friends sometimes and “do stuff.” You have an excellent chance of meeting the LOYL if you work it. How does one work it? Follow these strategic planning guidelines and you’ll be amazed at how many new people come into your life.
- Commit to take action.
You’re going to do this like it’s your job. If you do it right, you’ll get a very high Return on Investment, and can retire from dating.
- Map out a strategy.
It’s time for new adventures. Think carefully about your interests, and which ones offer the best demographics for interacting with the opposite sex.
- Take bold risks.
- May eye contact, smile and start conversations.
- Tell her you think she’s cute.
- Write your phone number on a napkin and hand it over.
- Ask for his phone and add your name and number to his contacts.
Meeting people is a numbers game. Tell everyone you know that you are open to meeting someone. At least some of the time, venture out alone. You won’t meet anyone new if you’re showing up with an entourage.
- Embrace rejection.
If you’re never getting rejected, you’re not risking enough. Sex is chemistry, so you should want to be rejected by anyone who doesn’t respond to your pheromones. It saves time.
Without further delay, here are the best places to meet someone new and potentially worthy, organized by interest:
- Yoga classes, especially “hot” yoga, are popular with both men and women.
- Become a runner, and train with a group. My local running store has groups that depart in the morning, after work, and on weekends. They offer different levels of challenge. If you’re a guy, start out slow to meet more women. If you’re female, work hard to get into an intermediate level group, at least. Often groups will enter races together, train for marathons, etc.
- Cyclists often have clubs and ride together. If you can find one for singles, even better.
- If you’re an outdoorsy type, think about a hiking group. I know a woman who met her husband after she ran a personal ad in the Appalachian Mountain Club newsletter.
- Go skiing or snowboarding. Ski clubs for singles are everywhere. I know two married couples who met this way. Calling “Single!” in a lift line is a great way to meet people.
- Join a coed sports league. They are common for Frisbee, softball, volleyball and soccer. The coed teams are often more relaxed, with good opportunities for socializing.
- Go for a walk. This may sound ridiculous, but I frequently walk the same route, and every time I share hellos with both strangers and other “regular” walkers.
- Play doubles tennis in a league.
- Join a book club, or start one. Ask three single friends to join you, inviting each one to bring a platonic friend of the opposite sex. Four women, four men is a good size to start.
- Photographers often have groups, and go out together to photograph a specific place. I saw one such group of people in their 20s all shooting in Harvard Square, and they planned to share their work the following weekend.
- Go to Openings. Films, galleries, museum shows. Approach the attractive person contemplating the landscape painting with a plastic cup of white wine in hand! In Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts has singles nights, and they are very popular with the 20-somethings. Don’t worry about being knowledgeable. Most people there won’t be experts, they’re more interested in the interaction, same as you.
- Take an acting class. I did a lot of this, and watched with amusement as major dramas unfolded among the students. This is also a really good way to get over shyness.
- Participate in a community theater production. Make sure the organization is made up of people who are the right age. Putting up a show is very time consuming, which means lots of time spent in each other’s company, which leads to bonking.
- Sing. If you have a good voice, sing in a chorus, a choir, or at open mic night.
- Go to a poetry slam.
- Go to small local concerts. Battles of the Bands are good. You want small, intimate spaces, not pregaming in the parking lot before a Dave Matthews show.
- Attend as many conferences and professional development seminars as you can, and don’t hang with your coworkers the whole time. I once linked to an essay by a woman who marched up to an attractive French guy at a conference and chatted him up. They exchanged email addresses and stayed in touch. She liked him so much she faked a business trip to Paris and arranged to grab a bite with him. She grabbed a lot more than that, married him and moved there.
- If it is at all relevant to your work, get some training in IT, web design or social media. There are lots of smart guys in these fields.
- If you work somewhere that is mostly single sex, consider a part-time gig in the public eye. Bartending, retail, even teaching an adult ed class are all good ways to interact with other single people.
- Network at work. Chat up everyone you can at work in an open and friendly manner. Yes, you might meet someone special, but don’t discount the middle-aged female executive whose hot daughter came in for lunch one day. Or the middle manager who might ask you to take over the intern hiring process. Form relationships and build trust. You will find that doors open when you do so.
- Food and Wine
- Take a cooking class, especially one that the opposite sex might choose. Obviously, if you’re a woman you’ll look desperate if you take Cooking for Bachelors. But you could take a one-day Superbowl Party cooking class, or a class in quick dinners. If you’re a guy, think about taking a class focusing on delicious, low-calorie meals, for example.
- Go to a wine tasting. You can learn a lot, it’s good stuff to know, and they tend to be quite social.
- A word about bars: Bars definitely deserve a place in the rotation. I know several happy couples who met in a bar. However, they are also high risk. Most men aren’t in them to select a baby mama. If you want to meet a guy, your odds are best by far in a sports bar. It helps if you understand the sport being viewed, and can express genuine interest.
- Go to popular restaurants where the other sex likes to eat. Steakhouses. Sushi bars. A guy could do worse than to eat at The Cheesecake Factory if he wants to meet someone new.
- Plan a Potluck Plus One. Invite a bunch of friends to bring a dish and a platonic friend.
- Become a regular. Casual places work best for this. A pub, diner, or cafe with wifi are all good choices. When everybody knows your name, they’ll start introducing you and networking on your behalf. Or you may encounter an attractive fellow regular.
- Dog parks are one of the best ways to make new friends of either sex. And your dog will love you for it. This one is so good that if I were single I’d probably get a dog just for this purpose.
- Walking a dog at a regular time each day is also good. No matter where you live, there is probably someone single and attractive within easy walking distance who also takes their dog out after work. If you can get your dog to poop when theirs does, you have your opening.
- Some breeds have special events that draw a lot of singles. Whether it’s obedience trials, or crazy Jack Russell racing, everyone shows up to these events in a good mood.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter. You may meet a fellow volunteer, a cute vet, or a good person looking to rescue an animal.
- If you’re female, do a Habitat for Humanity build.
- Attend charity galas. They’re often packed with singles.
- Volunteer for an environmental organization, and be smart about the tasks you undertake. Instead of agreeing to write letters to petition a lawmaker, go on a Saturday morning beach cleanup.
- Volunteer for a political cause. Instead of agreeing to make phone calls from home or go house to house leaving flyers, sign up for activities done in groups. Phone-a-thons are good, as is stuffing envelopes. If you have the skills to be part of a planning committee, even better.
- Check online for organizations that can match volunteers to opportunities.
- Public Celebrations
- Attend block parties.
- Go to a parade and stand near someone attractive (and single). If you can find a small town parade on a national holiday, there’s usually a very friendly and casual vibe. Towns near the beach are great on July 4th.
- Go to see the fireworks. If you have to get there really early to save a spot, so much the better. Bring a picnic and a frisbee, and meet new people.
- Go to your local Farmer’s Market. Every week. Become a regular.
- Go to sports games. If you’re priced out of the major league seats like I am, go to a minor league game. I had a great time meeting people in Fort Meyers, FL this year. There were sooo many cute young people there!
- Running Errands
- Talk to strangers while waiting in line. This is good to do anywhere, but especially at movies, restaurants and clubs.
- Go food shopping where fellow singles go. The last time I was at Trader Joe’s on a weekday afternoon I saw six hot guys. I wanted to call my girls and tell them to get over there! Whole Foods is also good, but the crowd is a bit older.
- Get to the Apple store early for your Genius Bar appointment. I always see attractive young people there, all standing around and waiting for a turn.
- Network by chatting everyone up. I know one married couple who met when a woman cashier at a market waited on a guy, and he thought she’d be perfect for a friend of his. He didn’t say anything, but brought the friend round to check her out. He liked her and his friend made the awkward introductions. It worked.
- I love the library. I go there about once a week, and even in the middle of a weekday, there are always young people hanging around and working on their laptops. Position yourself strategically near an attractive person and get to work. Or play.
- Organized Dating
- Online dating is not always worth your time, but it deserves a place in your strategy. Limit the time and money you’re willing to invest, but give it a shot.
- People report that speed dating is great fun.
- Apparently, a lot of dates are getting made at eye-gazing parties. It’s so intense that it’s an immediate shortcut to sexual tension.
- Attend lectures on topics that interest you. Stick around for the Q&A.
- Take an extension class – Harvard Extension is cheap and excellent in Boston, and their classes are chock full of interesting people. Most colleges and universities offer programs like this. I took a creative writing seminar there in the evening and there were lots of hot young professionals there.
- Go to seminars that teach skills that interest young people. Investments and real estate are two popular topics.
- Get involved with your alumnae networks. Attend functions and meet people from your alma mater who you didn’t know while there.
- There are innumerable trips for singles available. The best ones are active. Sharing a common interest and doing it is so much more effective as a way of meeting someone than lying around in a bathing suit at a resort or on a cruise ship. There are many options, including biking, hiking, river rafting, climbing, skiing, scuba diving, sailing and horseback riding.
- Tag team relays are huge right now. Teams of 12 enter running relays that cover 200 miles. They share the experience and a van. It’s been called a “road trip for adults.”
- Culinary walking tours are fun and inexpensive, often ending with a shared meal at a restaurant. They’re offered in most cities now.
- Volunteer vacations are popular with singles. I had one friend who boarded a Russian ship to Antarctica to study penguins. Another tagged rock wallabies in Australia. Both had flings. Vacations can run the gamut from primitive and cheap to luxurious (Abercrombie & Kent offers philanthropic vacations in the $15,000 range, yikes).
- Couch Surfinghooks up travelers with guests, and can be a great way to meet people.
Most singles rely too heavily on going to bars and online dating. You need to diversify your portfolio! I’ve given you 57 ideas off the top of my head. Choose four, and introduce one per week for the next month. Stick with your plan, observing the five strategic rules for success.
Don’t leave your love life to chance. Take action, and get control. Action always feels better than inertia, so go ahead and shake things up!