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Be Systematic When Dating

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Making a dating plan is a good way to help yourself become proactive about dating. As people form dating and friendship relationships most readily when they socialize together (particularly when this socialization occurs regularly), your plan should focus on expanding your social opportunities. You might start by brainstorming ways to increase your social opportunities, and then selecting the best ways you've generated to actually implement. It can take a little effort to expand one's social circles, especially if one is shy, but it can be done if one works at it.

A short list of places where people are able to socialize includes:

  • get-togethers and parties with friends
  • dancing/clubs
  • religious institutions
  • work
  • educational classes (college, continuing education, alumni groups, etc.)
  • exercise groups (yoga, etc.)
  • service groups (rotary, soup kitchens, animal rescue, etc.)
  • hobby groups (bird watching, hiking, photography, etc.)
  • business networking clubs
  • self-help groups

Often, your best socialization choices can serve dual purposes; you can get into better shape by exercising, and being at the gym increases your chances of meeting new people you might want to date, or who might know someone you might want to date. Pick one or two (or three) socialization opportunities you'd like to pursue and make sure you actually do pursue them.

Be consistent about attending your new social groups and activities. When you first enter into a new group you will be an outsider and it may take some time (sometimes several weeks or even months) before you become comfortable with other group members and vice versa. You can break the ice by introducing yourself around and taking on group responsibilities if any are available. Don't be too worried if you don't immediately find someone to whom you are attracted. The networking aspect of socialization can end up being even more important than whether you meet someone directly. Your group activity might result in friendships with people who can set you up with someone special.