Come hear the music play.
Life is a Cabaret, old chum,
Come to the Cabaret.”
Fred Ebb, Cabaret
“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
A reader writes:
I’m 25 and sad to report that these issues seem to persist well after college.
I would love to see more posts that address how tough it is to meet guys period. I think the “few and far between” mentality is a huge contributing factor to giving into hooking up early and staying with guys who are assholes.
One of the cruelest things about hookup culture is that it prevails during a time when you’re meeting more people of the opposite sex than you ever will again. (Nod to Susan Patton.) After college, whether you move to a small town or large city, it becomes more difficult to meet new people. In the past I’ve provided suggestions on where to meet the love of your life. You could meet him anywhere – the train station, the beach, at a friend’s home, through your Aunt Millie.
The truth is, a list of venues or possibilities doesn’t really help you much if you haven’t got the right mindset. On the other hand, if you do have the right mindset, the venues don’t matter much.
When my daughter was first learning to play soccer, her coach was working on teaching the kids basic ball skills, and I’ll never forget how he began. He said, “For now, just try to touch the ball with your foot. That’s all. Don’t kick it, don’t pass it, don’t run with it. Just see how many touches you can get during this practice.” At least half the battle was getting the kids comfortable with approaching and touching the ball. Showing up. Once they had that down, they could begin to work on foot skills and various plays.
Finding a life partner is like that.
You have to touch a lot of balls. To have one good conversation, you may need to have 100 casual conversations that don’t go anywhere. You need to network for dating the exact same way you might network professionally. Lots of coffee dates, informational “interviews,” making connections with friends of friends and most importantly, letting everyone know you’re looking.
Women are often reticent about letting people know they’d like a relationship. It seems pathetic to say “Waaaah, waaaah, I want a boyfriend.” That is pathetic, so that’s not what you’ll say. As you get to know people, they’ll ask if you have a boyfriend (they always do). You’ll say, “No, but now that I’ve settled into my life here, I’d love to meet someone.” Keep it positive and others will begin thinking of you as someone they can introduce around when the opportunity arises. You only appear desperate and pathetic if you act that way. By the way, don’t aggressively ask every woman you get friendly with, “Hey, know any cute single guys you can set me up with?” Make it clear you’re open to meeting new people, and then focus on being a quality friend. If and when there’s a potential match, they’ll think of it on their own.
Here are the four most common ways people meet their spouses after college, along with some suggestions on how to get things moving:
Office romances frequently end in marriage. Approximately 20% of married couples meet at work. Forty percent of people say they have dated a coworker at least once, and of those relationships, 30% end in marriage.
Use common sense. Don’t shag the boss.
Don’t overlook the possibility of networking in the office for social opportunities. One young woman I know met her boyfriend when one of the firm’s partners invited her to lunch with his son.
The woman in the cube next to you may have a cute brother, or a boyfriend who knows some good guys.
It accounts for about 20% of American marriages, so ignore it at your peril. Yes, online dating is time consuming, and there’s no built in quality control. Start by presenting yourself as a woman who is looking to give or share, not take. Women often appear mercenary, bratty and entitled in online profiles. By taking the opposite approach, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
The key to managing online dating is filtering. Filter out any guy who checks the “short-term” box, even if he also checks the long-term relationship box. You want to focus on guys who are up front about not looking for casual. Filter in any guy who seems interesting or funny, regardless of how lame or goofy or meh his picture looks. Any guy who makes you laugh deserves a coffee date.
Friends and Family
This is huge. As I mentioned above, let people know you’re available for a relationship. I know of at least two couples where, once the woman did this, a guy she knew and found attractive stepped forward and said, “How about me?” You have no idea what possibilities are out there!
Accept all invitations. BBQs, your cousin’s graduation party, your 5th high school reunion at the bowling alley. The lame party your friend is throwing may have one interesting new guy there.
Go on blind dates. Yes, you’ll meet some duds, but once you let people know you’re looking, it’s only polite to gracefully accept any potential date they line up for you. I know one young woman who went out with a guy who works for the husband of a coworker. She was very disappointed, but did not let it show. She was gracious, and a couple of months later, the same colleague set her up again, this time with someone she found very attractive.
Host gatherings. Invite friends to bring friends. Do it not just for yourself, but for other singles you know. They’ll reciprocate, and that gets the ball rolling.
The odds of meeting your future husband in line at Starbucks or in a crosswalk may be slim, but this is the fourth most common way people meet their spouses. You don’t need to be on the prowl every time you drop off your dry cleaning. By assuming a friendly demeanor, exchanging pleasantries and making eye contact with people, you create a connection. Sometimes you wind up getting to know a fellow regular somewhere.
Don’t just focus on guys. Practice random acts of kindness in general – you’ll be surprised how good that feels regardless of the romantic prospect.
You’re in your 20s, it’s time to focus on the traits that make a good dad. Keep an open mind. Be kind.
In closing, I’ll share a list of where 20-something women I know met their serious boyfriends. It’s strictly anecdotal, but perhaps also fairly typical:
BFF’s brother: 1
Friends of friends: 5
Online dating: 2
Introduced by rabbi: 1
Blind date via coworkers: 1
For these 15 relationships, all of which may lead to marriage (3 are engaged), there were undoubtedly hundreds of false starts, dates with no chemistry, and disappointed hopes.
You can’t just sit home in your room, you’ve got to work it.
If you’ve got a good story about how you met your boyfriend or girlfriend, share it in the comments, we’d love to hear it!