Okay, if you started in Part I, you’ve done the hard work: You’ve looked at who you are and what you want. You’ve examined those cute little quirks that your Auntie Gertrude loves but that seem to drive your roommate to distraction. You’ve been realistic about the kind of person you’re looking for, and you’ve thought about how this hypothetical person would merge with you to make a divine duo or at least a viable date. So what now?
In this chapter, you go hunting for Mr. or Ms. Right. (And if that’s too much pressure, you can scout out Mr. or Ms. Maybe or Mr. or Ms. Right Now.) There are terrific places to look, places to look with caution, and places where you absolutely, positively don’t want to look (I’ll bet your first three choices fall into the don’t-even-go-there category). So if you’re looking for information on where, and where not, to go to meet people, you’re in the right place.
A Word about Attitude — Yours
Before I begin listing some of the good places to find somebody fun, let me encourage you to be open — not open-minded about what I’m going to suggest, but open to spontaneity. If you’re in Macy’s and a great-looking person asks whether a particular color looks good with his or her hair, you should hear bells and whistles: potential date, potential date, potential date. Potential dates are everywhere, once you start looking. Just keep a few things in mind:
- Be aware. Both men and women are understandably cautious about being picked up by strangers, so if you’re the one doing the approaching, the hallmarks of your approach have to be gentility, civility, humor, and gentleness. Otherwise, somebody’s likely to call the cops on you. I know — so what’s the problem? Cops are cute. Pay attention here; I’m being serious
- Be considerate. If someone has found the courage to approach you and you’re not interested, unless they’re really, really scary, say no civilly. You don’t have to be nasty
- Don’t panic. If I were to promise you that you would meet the person of your dreams in ten years, and the two of you would be wildly happy for the rest of your lives, would you be willing to wait that ten years? Of course you would (unless you’re already 110 years old — more about that in Appendix A). So assume that meeting your dreamboat is just a matter of time and, in the meantime, have fun, which definitely increases your chances of being appealing when you run into that date-to-be ten minutes, months, years, or decades from now.
Searching for the Best Places to Meet Someone
It makes no sense to hang out in places where you hate the activity. Doing so is kind of like people who feed their babies Gerber’s veal and then are surprised when their kids like only veal, which the parents never eat. Hang out in places where you would be happy even if you weren’t searching, and — bingo! — you’re happy.
A place you enjoy, where you feel comfortable and safe, solves the problem of what to talk about. The key is to be lighthearted about approaching a stranger. The situation is similar to baking a soufflé. You need to tread gently and avoid loud noises, early peeks, or banging doors. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a dessert that nobody wants — flat, ugly, and unappetizing — despite the effort and right ingredients you put into it.
The halls of academia
High schools, colleges, and adult education classes are all dating mills. You can sit next to somebody in class for weeks, smile shyly, and eventually get up the nerve to say, “Hi” or “Can I borrow your notes?” or “A bunch of us are going for coffee.” So number one on the list of places to meet somebody is a classroom: high school, college, traffic school, cooking school, power squadron course, art history course, computer course — you get the point.
Find something you’ve always wanted to learn about and take a course. Even if you don’t see any datables in your classroom, you’re out of the house, learning and relating, and your chem partner may have a cute sibling who’s single
The people in your neighborhood
You may find some very datable people in your own neighborhood. Familiarity breeds comfort, and feeling safe and making the other person equally comfortable are important. So somebody you frequently run into or who knows
the people you know works for both of you.
Dating a neighbor has some advantages:
- You may already be acquainted with each other, and therefore, the situation isn’t as scary as approaching or being approached by a stranger — and making somebody feel safe is a priority in this exercise.
- You probably run into the person often, giving you plenty of opportunities to take the bull by the horns (so to speak).
- You probably know many of the same people.
The only reservation about dating someone in your neighborhood is that you should be careful about next-door neighbors. If the thing doesn’t work out, the possibilities of being spied on increase greatly. Even if they don’t own
binoculars, the “bump intos” could feel uncomfortable, awkward, painful, or embarrassing.