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Finding Dates

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Finding people to date can seem like a big task to someone who has not been dating for awhile. Fortunately, there are now probably more ways than ever before to make connections. Here are a few tips for getting started.

Be Creative

Left on their own, many people look for dating partners within the circle of people they already know or meet on a regular basis. This strategy works well when you have a rich and varied social life, but it works poorly when you don't. Young people in school environments tend to have little difficulty meeting appropriate partners as there are so many single peers around them.  Older people can have a tougher time of it, particularly if they do not belong to social or religious groups outside of work. If you are wanting to date but don't know where to find potential partners, think about expanding the ways you look for dates. Religious and social groups are fine, as is work within certain limits, but also consider going out of your way to join service, business and hobby groups where you will meet people you don't already know. Consider the personal ads, both online and otherwise. Also, consider telling trusted friends about your desire to meet someone so that they can introduce you to people they may know, or help you to brainstorm ways to meet people you may not have previously considered.

Be Proactive, Be Shameless

Creative solutions for meeting people to date are fine, but they won't help someone who feels ashamed or embarrassed to implement them. People carry around a lot of cultural shame about the dating process. Women (and some men too) may feel it is inappropriate for them to be active in searching for a date. They would feel embarrassed if any of their friends or co-workers found out they had taken out a personals ad and teased them. Somehow dating is just supposed to happen, and it is a sign of desperation if one needs to take matters into their own hands. Men and women both may simply feel inadequate, expecting that no one would want to date them. Either case adds up to a situation where lonely people can end up failing to take actions necessary to find a date. The thing about waiting for someone to approach you is that most of the time no one will -- not because there is anything necessarily wrong with you, but because you have not made yourself approachable and/or noticeable.

It is important that you come to terms with any feelings of embarrassment or shame you may have around the dating process. What exactly are you afraid will happen if you did 'act desperately' and took out a personals ad and 'got caught' by co-workers? Even if they teased you, would that be so bad? What is it about you that is so awful that no one would want to date you? Are you so all-knowing that you can really anticipate that no one will like you? -- or are you maybe over-generalizing? Probably you are over-generalizing. There is likely to be someone out there who could accept you for who you happen to be.

Taking a proactive approach to dating (taking risks, trying new ways to meet people, being direct in communicating your desire to date someone rather than waiting for them to read your mind) is a good plan if you want to increase the number of dates you have, and widen the types of people you are able to meet. Remember that dating, like sales, is a numbers game. You will likely have to date a number of people before you find someone with whom you 'click'. Doing what you can do in order to generate more dates will get you closer to finding someone with whom you can share a relationship far faster than will being passive.