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You have your ad in the personals, but where do you go to make new friends and find quality dates?   by Lynne G

Okay, I am going to get on my soap box again about another topic: Singles Groups.  Depending on your age and what city you are located in, singles groups may or may not be a good idea to join.   The smaller the city, the less options and the more desperate and strange people you end up meeting in these groups.  Think about it, how many of you have heard the horror stories about friends paying $2,000 for a dating service or attending a singles group to find totally dysfunctional, desperate people.  I am not saying all groups are like this but the vast majority are for people who have no life outside of their religion, or just got divorced and or have spent a lot of time in front of the TV with no interests and are being prompted by Mom and Dad to go out and meet people.  Below is a listing of some of the various ways to make new friends and find dates.  The experiences below are from a variety of reports from others who have been through these types of groups.  We will start with the best places to meet people.

Great Places to Meet People:

Single Volunteers, Charity Work, Fundraisers and Political Campaigns:

Most cities have various volunteer efforts that you can get involved in. Volunteering is rewarding because you are contributing the world in a worthwhile way.  By volunteering you will meet others that are also giving and may have the same values as you.  Everything from the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association to local charities.  Many organizations are locally based and raise money for everything from Battered Women's Shelters to Homes for Orphans and food and clothing for the homeless.  Many of these organizations have made efforts to get singles involved by creating fundraising parties that the put singles in charge.   Check with your local charities to find out about these groups.  Some of the most dynamic people get involved in fund raising parties, bowl-a-thons, etc.   Another great way to meet people is training for the MS 150, raising money and riding in it.  

If you are part of a political party, get involved.   Many cities have a young democrats or young republicans organization. Fundraisers for various charities that are large projects, balls, or parties that are not designed for singles are still a great way to meet people.  The people you work with may like you and fix you up with someone you know. You will meet people who share you views and have the camaraderie of working on projects together.

Singles Sports Leagues

Sports leagues from Tennis and Golf to Softball and Volleyball are terrific ways to meet people in a non-threatening environment.  People that are involved in these groups tend to be athletic, like other sports and are looking to meet athletic and sports minded singles.   Groups tend to go out for a beer after a game which provides further socializing opportunities. 

Singles Ski and Sailing Clubs These clubs are a great way to meet people that like to ski and sail and trips are usually inexpensive and you might get to go to places you never would have thought of going on your own.  People who ski and sail are a different breed and tend to want to meet people who are competent and enjoy the sport.  Even if you are a beginner, you can learn quickly and easily become a part of the gang.  There are some rather large ski clubs around the US. Many are involved in racing and have their own sports leagues and activities. Sailing clubs are popular on the coasts and around cities with large lakes. WOMEN:  This is a great place to meet men that are athletic.   There are usually more men than women involved in sports activities and leagues.

Wine Tasting and Wine Dinners: This is a terrific place to meet people that enjoy good wine and gourmet food.  People who can afford to go to wine tastings and wine dinners tend to be able to afford dates and enjoy the finer things in life.   Some of these groups go on wine tasting trips.    Wine tastings and wine dinners will have people from all different ages and will typically white collar professionals attending.  Check with some of your local restaurants that are known for their wine list or large number of wines by the glass.  Typically they hold some of the better wine tastings and wine dinners in a city.  What is nice is there is always a new wine tasting or wine dinner to attend somewhere with new people.  Many cities have wine groups/clubs you can join but you will be around the same people. Check your local newspaper FOOD section and the weekend events guide to find when wine tastings/wine dinners will be happening in your city.   MEN:  This is a great way for male professionals to meet women.  There are always more women than men at a wine tasting.

Dancing: Dancing and dance classes are a terrific way to meet other singles.  Country dancing and Swing dancing are the latest craze. Dancing is fun, people laugh at themselves and it makes for a great environment to meet others.   Many dance classes mix it up and rotate partners throughout the classes.   Check out the dance section under your metro area on 

Sign up for a Class: Signing up for classes at the local junior college or their adult education program is a great way to meet new people.  Everything from computer classes, foreign language classes, sports instruction such as tennis and golf, and dancing is available through the adult education classes at your local junior college.  You could choose to work on your MBA or other masters degree.  People are put into teams to work on projects. 

Happy Hour at an Upscale Pub: This can be a great way to meet people.   You go with a large group of friends or co-workers and they invite other friends that they know.   Everyone is unwinding and enjoying a beer and some munchies. If you meet someone inside the group you can get the scoop on the friend of your co-worker or friend that has joined the group for happy hour.   If you meet others while you are there, all your friends can check out this person too.

Private Parties: Private parties are great because you have a few people you know, who know the others that are invited.  Friends are the number one source for meeting a mate and finding dates.  A party atmosphere is low key.  You don' t feel like you are on a blind date.  If a friend has someone to fix you up with that you just don't have any interest, you can meet other people.

Don't Expect Much:

Religious Groups

Church Groups and Jewish Singles Groups can be a terrific way to meet people of the same religion.   That is if you can find a LARGE dynamic church or temple with over 100 singles in the group.  Smaller churches and temples don’t cater to singles, and a larger church or temple with a small singles presence subjects you to the same 15-20 people.  The most dynamic religious groups have people between 23-35.  Many of the larger churches have a variety of singles groups for different ages and stage of life such as a single parents group. The problem with “religious groups” is finding someone who is at the same level of faith and worship as you are and having other common interests outside of your shared faith.  

Keep in mind that just because you are a certain religion or were brought up with a certain faith does not mean that you will find someone who shares your interests, goals, or dreams by attending a religious singles group.   Many are not tolerant of other viewpoints.   Some people are so "ultra religious" that they won't take you seriously as a future mate if you aren't Baptist or Nazarene, or Orthodox Jewish, etc.  The religious practices may be so extreme that you can't date (non-drinker, non-dancer, can't drive on Saturday, etc.) unless you share the same practices.  

Christians under 35, one of the best ways to meet a lot of Christian singles is through the local Bible Study Fellowship that is in most major cities and is usually held at one of the larger churches in the city.   This is a dynamic organization with lots of activities and involvement of several local churches.  You meet people that are outside of the singles group of your own church.

Many large cities have other religious community singles groups that are held at large churches and the Jewish Federation has functions and mixers to meet others.  Some of these groups have lectures, seminars, retreats, divorce recovery and more available for singles.

That said, Dr. Laura is right about trying to find someone of your faith and practicing the faith you believe in.  It is hard to deal with the issues of mixing Christian and Jewish, Catholic and Christian, etc. when you are supposed to be a married "team" worshiping God together and dealing with the issues of raising children.   If you attend a religious group, go with an open mind.   A lot of people meet their spouses in religious just isn't for everyone.  And be careful, just because you are in a church or temple doesn't mean that everyone that attends is of strong moral character, there are men that “troll” these groups looking for nice women who are not religious in any way.  

Dating Services : A blind date

These services promise to pair you up with dynamic people such as yourself.   The reality is that you end up spending $1000-$2000 for a year's subscription to be paired with people that are socially inept, just got divorced  and are going through the healing/rebound process (and because they and their ex-shared friends are starting over and don’t know where to turn to meet people), introverts that can barely hold conversations (and therefore need a service to meet people), and the list goes on.   There are some successful business owners and professionals that join these services.   Again, usually they just got divorced (and are probably in that healing/rebound mode).  And people who move from out of town looking for a quick way to meet people and find dates, but that is not the majority of the dating service. Most of the dynamic and interesting people in this world do NOT need to pay to be in a dating service. They find other things to join to meet people.

When you register with a video dating service, they put you in front of a video camera and interview you. Then other people watch your video and decide whether they want to meet you or not. It's great if you look good on TV. Most people don't. The process is time-consuming and inconvenient. You have to go to the service's location during the hours when they're open and look through a lot of videos before you find someone you want to meet.  They interview you, making a big show of asking detailed questions about who you are and what you're looking for. Because the price is high-they only have a limited number of people in their files/on video tape at any one time. 

If this is the route you choose, ask a lot of questions before you part with your hard earned money.   Ask how many females, how many males, how many professionals, what types of professionals, how many never-married's, how many divorced, and what criteria they use to check people’s backgrounds.  How many successful matches have they made?    Do you really have the time to drive over to the office of the dating service to check out videos and/or files of information on each person that they recommend?   Can you handle the rejection when you take the trouble to pick someone out and they review your profile and don’t want to meet you?  What kind of guarantees will they provide?  Can you try it first?  

Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a dating service, be your own dating service!   The online personals  are exactly like a dating service but with the convenience of access 24 hours a day, immediate responses (within hours or a day), and low monthly price.  Can you meet someone in a dating service?  Yes, but it is not for everyone.  Every service is different and again, the larger the city, the larger the selection to choose from.  You have to go into it willing to spend $2000 and spend lots of time on dates. You may or may not make a match.  The plus side is that you will go on a lot of dates with different people.

Dining Groups: A group blind date.   

The groups have different names in each city but the concept is a "dinner for six".  It is nice in theory to be set down to dinner at an elegant restaurant with other professionals your age.  This is basically a blind date with 5 people and you.  Make a new friend, network and hopefully find a great date.  The fact is, many of these groups don’t have a lot of people unless you are in a very large city with over 2 million people. The membership may be small 150-200 members at most, not all are actively attending dinners, and there is a wide age range, although the majority are mostly divorcees in their 40’s and 50’s with children.  It is a more upscale “Parents without Partners” elegant dining experience.   

The pitfalls:   This isn’t like a dating service where they have you review the person you will meet first and you don't get to talk to each person on the phone before you meet them.  The conversations can be strange or strained especially if you are paired with people may have made it through the limited screening process, but in a social setting may be socially inept, introverted, self centered, rude, temperamental, have poor etiquette or manners, someone that undresses you with their eyes, someone you have dated that you don't care to be around, or otherwise people who just make you feel uncomfortable.   A bad seating might have people that can't get a conversation going because no one has anything in common.  You may be seated at future dinners with the same people again and again because recruiting members is not easy.  If there are not enough people in the club, you may be seated with people that are significantly older than you just to create a seating.   (I have a friend in her mid 30's that had this happen....they seated her with a group that had a 55 year old guy, who of course asked for her number).  Also, be aware that the groups in each city are run by different people with different moral standards.  In one city, they allow separated people to attend.    What is your definition of separated?   To most people that means you are still married and may still work it out with the person that you are separated from. And if you are going through a divorce, is it really healthy to go out looking for dates when you are not healed?   When I look at a group that allows that, I wonder how much the owner is interested in bringing singles together or making a fast buck.

If you decide to join such a group plan on doing so just to make a few new friends rather than looking for dates.   People joining these groups do so because it less expensive than a dating service.   The fee is lower than a dating service because there is little background checking other than that people say they are professionals and no matchmaking and discussion of who you meet like you have with a dating service.    If you are female, beware that some of the men will ask out almost every woman they meet in the group.  (Yes, there are men that are that desperate….doesn’t it make you feel special?).   Get to know people slowly and be careful of dating any of the members.  Unlike a dating service, it ends up being a big group of people that get to know each other and gossip is rampant.   On the plus side if you find people you like or have common interests, you will make some new friends.

If you like dining out, try going to wine dinners for an option to do the same thing without the expense of joining a club.   There are always new people at each event especially if you go to  different places, at different times of the month, and types of wine dinner.

Chamber of Commerce and other Networking Events: Party with your coworkers. This is a great place to find a new job or find new clients.   You will find some singles at these functions and people tend to let their hair down when they are schmoozing.   The reality is most of these people are there to find business leads, make contacts and then run home to their spouse. Many are sent their by their companies and are told they have to attend and really don’t want to be there.  And there are a lot of married men on the prowl. Not the most “single friendly” environment.  

Dance Clubs and Bars   Be very careful with this one!   A lot of people don't want the stigma of meeting their mate in a "bar".  There is a difference between "happy hour" with co-workers or a group of friends at an upscale pub and going after 9 pm to a bar by yourself or with a few other friends.  Typically after 9 pm, people are  inebriated.   Many of the men that go to a bar late at night are just looking to "score.   Bars are great for some people; for others they are unpleasant if not frightening. The people you meet there are mostly drinkers and smokers in their twenties and early thirties. If you're looking for someone who doesn't fit that description, you're probably out of luck.  Men often don't like bars because they have difficulty approaching and starting a conversation with a woman or asking her to dance. Sometimes their fear of rejection makes them awkward and self-conscious. Women often don't like bars because they don't like being hit on by awkward and self-conscious men. Bars are smoky, poorly lit, noisy, and expensive ($50 to $100 a week including cover charge, drinks, taxes, and tips), they also can be dangerous. Bars are open to anyone of legal drinking age; there is no screening process (such as asking lots of questions through email and reviewing a profile first).

Friends and Family: Married people want their friends to get married. Families want to extend themselves by getting their family members married. So they introduce you to someone they know that would be "perfect" for you. It seldom works out. Why? Because they do the choosing, not you. And unfortunately, as time goes on, they run out of people to introduce you to.

900 Date Lines: To register with a 900-line dating service, you enter your profile by answering prerecorded questions using the telephone keypad and then recording a message for others to listen to. In other words, you run a personal ad-with all the disadvantages of a personal ad-that gets delivered over the telephone. Only these personal ads are much more expensive to read than the printed kind. A typical profile runs about seven minutes. At $2 per minute, which are what 900 lines charge on the average, to listen to one profile cost about $14. To listen to five costs $70

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