A Different Take on Dating

Last night I threw a party. It was a “singles mixer.” Yes, that sounds very swingin’ sixties but the inspiration behind my event was definitely 21st Century.

Over the past month I’ve been spending a lot of time on OkCupid and gone on a few dozen dates. Each time I made contact with a man — or he made contact with me and I responded — I did my best to be realistic about romance. Love at first sight is a lot to expect. At the very least an in-person encounter would be interesting; I love meeting new people. I wanted to be open to the possibilities but the blind date dynamic isn’t consistently a recipe for relationship success.

The truth is, not one romance in my past would’ve happened if I had relied on the internet. None of my eventual boyfriends would’ve looked good “on paper” and I don’t think I would have been attracted to any of them if they’d been just snapshots on a web site. You simply cannot replicate the chemistry that happens between two people in person.

Resulting from many of my events in years past, people have fallen in love, met a new roommate, found a job. As clichéd as it sounds, it really is all about who you know. Our over-scheduled day-to-day lives often confine us to socializing with the same folks, rarely stepping beyond our circle of friends and acquaintances, whether that circle is 30 people or 300. Chances are, if you haven’t already found romance within your circle, you probably won’t.

So how to expand our social horizons? There are hundreds of activities to engage in and clubs you can join. Dating advice and relationship gurus tells us to do volunteer work, take a ballroom dance class, join the church choir. Not to sound like a snob, but I feel I’m a little too cosmopolitan for all that. Those suggestions sound like clues for a loser. Pas moi!

I prefer the idea of combining the optimism of a matchmaker with the pragmatism of a headhunter and, rather than “fixing up” one person with another, curate a world of intersecting lives, mix and match the personalities, try new combinations of singles. And don’t leave any of it to an algorithm. Because even with tools like OkCupid or Facebook, the internet isn’t the most efficient way to meet new people. If I see you’re “friends” with someone who interests me, am I really going to ask you to introduce me to them? If I “friend” that intriguing contact of yours, will we ever meet in person? Again, you can’t replace the face to face. I believe it’s necessary to shift the impetus from the ether to the here and now.

My vision for this “service,” if that’s what I wind up calling it, is to put a select group of interesting people into a room together and hope for that magical alchemy. Best case scenario, someone finds true love. Even if no one goes home with a phone number, they’ll most certainly enjoy an entertaining evening. Most importantly, everyone meets a few new folks. And, voila!, social circles expanded!

Last night’s party was the first step and, I have to say, I do believe it was a success. My initial goal was to have everyone meet someone new. Out of the 20 guests, I’ve only known four of them for more than a month. So the goal of “new” was achieved — for me, at least! Male or female, people found new friends.

Going forward, I’m hoping to hold one of these cocktail mixers each month and expand into organizing “field trips” as well, taking my select singles shooting at the Westside Pistol & Rifle Range, ice skating in Central Park or to arc welding lessons at the Madagascar Institute.

If you’re interested in joining us, email me! And if you have suggestions — about a field trip destination, other ways of incorporating new faces, whatever — let me know!

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