There's something I'm really curious about. Supposing you're in the situation of wanting a partner. How would you go about finding someone to date? Would you just hope someone comes along, or what? I particularly want to know about actual experiences: if you have ever deliberately gone looking for a partner in the past, how did you go about it, and what worked for you?
I ask because, well, I have never actively looked for a partner and I don't think I'm likely to; I prefer being single. When I have got into relationships, it's been something that "just happened" or was initiated by the other person. I can imagine what sort of steps I might take if I wanted to find someone. But I'm curious to know how this sort of thing works in reality. Also I have a few friends who are miserably single and I feel I can't give them any very useful advice, at least any that isn't entirely hypothetical.
I'm afraid it doesn't, really: how do you go about finding friends? I don't really actively go looking for friends either; friends are people I happen to meet doing things I enjoy doing anyway. Apart from the first term at uni, I've never really been in a situation of feeling: I don't have enough friends, I need to go and find some new friends. And first term at uni I'd have had to be actively anti-social not to meet at least a few people, so that's not really useful.
Make a stronger than usual effort to go to gatherings you're invited to, particularly those where there are likely to be a number of people you don't know, or don't know very well.
LJ has actually strengthened my social life considerably, as it means you do end up in the position of slightly-knowing several of your friends-of-friends from comments etc., so that when you meet them you already have an idea who they are, and if you get on you can friend them and get to know them that way in a nicely non-pressured way.
The problem I have with finding friends via other sources, like work or interest groups is that it tends to involve a lot of angsting for me over whether they're as interested as I am in pursuing a friendship. It has worked from time to time, but less reliably.
LJ has actually strengthened my social life considerably
My workplace has a fairly relaxed internet use policy, but they do specify that we shouldn't go to (a) dating sites and (b) message boards. Now, technically LJ isn't either of those things, but at times it does seem a bit like an unholy combination of both. :)
I agree, LJ can be a huge productivity sink. Even if my workplace permits it I feel as a matter of honesty I have to be fairly careful about how much I'm LJing, otherwise I can really end up playing on company time. What I usually do is restrict myself to reading, not get into posting or commenting. Because even with 100 friends, reading through new posts only takes so long.
All these points make a lot of sense to me. I can be pretty lazy about going to parties and large gatherings, especially if I feel I'm not going to know many people. But I very rarely regret it if I do force myself to leave my comfy computer chair and be social. I only wish there were more social events that didn't happen late in the evening; that's the time of day when I have least energy.
I agree LJ is wonderful. I've met people directly via LJ, as well as the examples you give: already vaguely knowing someone as an LJ friend of a friend gives a starting point for conversation, and adding someone new to my friends list is a really stress-free way of following up on a promising contact. Whereas exchanging emails or phone numbers seems kind of pushy. And I'm much better at getting to know someone by reading their journal and commenting when I feel like it, than at making a specific effort to write to them personally.
I think if I were looking for a partner, LJ would be a godsend too.
Hmmm, well, the last time I actively went looking for friends was probably when I went to university. I joined societies for things that I liked doing, and tried to make an effort to talk to people who looked/sounded/acted interesting. I also started spending a lot of time on usenet, which is where I met a lot of my friends, and I made an effort to meet up with interesting usenet people in 'real life'.
I suspect I would have still met lots of people (in tutorials, or just wandering around college) if I hadn't done any of that, but there's a difference between "meeting people" and finding/making friends. It's easy to bump into people, harder to stick to them.
These days if I was actively looking for friends I'd probably do more of my 'hunting' on LiveJournal -- I don't really have the time to join lots of clubs and societies any more. I'd also make more of an effort to meet the 'new' people at existing friends' parties (I'm assuming that I wouldn't be starting from a point of having no friends, because I can't imagine a plausible scenario where I'd lose all the friends I have).
I think generally it's just about making an effort -- going out rather than just vegging at home; starting conversations rather than just sitting in a corner being silent; replying to emails; following up suggestions of meeting up.
Of course now makes me worry that I don't make enough effort now, that I'm too complacent about my friends. :-/
Thanks for this, it's just the sort of thing I wanted to know and I find it really interesting. I think part of the problem for a lot of my crowd is that university, particularly Oxbridge, is a completely abnormal environment. The social strategies that work there are just not applicable to "real life".
Also very good point about converting acquaintances into friends. Simply encountering people is not that hard (though harder when you have a proper grown-up job rather than being a student). But all your examples of "making an effort" sound highly sensible to me.
The more friends you have already, the easier it is to make new friends. LJ facilitates that networking thing very well, but it's there offline as well. So I suspect that the optimal strategy for partner-hunting may well be to try and make as many friends as possible. That way, there's a better chance that one of them will eventually introduce you to someone you click with. But even if that doesn't happen, you'll have lots of friends which can only be a good thing.
I don't think you have a reason to feel inadequate, you know. There's no optimal number of friends that everyone should aim for. If you have people to turn to in a crisis, people you can spend time with comfortably and as much social life as you have time / money / energy for, then you don't need to go and make more friends just to increase your score!
I don't think you have a reason to feel inadequate, you know. There's no optimal number of friends that everyone should aim for.
I didn't mean that I ought to be hunting for more friends -- just that the effort one makes to find new friends is the same kind of thing as the effort required to maintain existing friendships, and I worry that I've pontificated a lot about the former but don't actually do very much of the latter.
I pretty much continue doing exactly what I'd do otherwise, but always keep a look out for potential partners. I crush on friends (to varying degrees) with great frequency, and while these crushes generally get swept under the carpet and ignored, if I'm actively looking then I'm more likely to try to push things, or be flirty or whatever. If I'm not actively looking (either because I'm already partnered, or because I'm happily single) the threshold for intensity of feeling before I'd have to act tends to be higher. I think.
That's a very good point, and one I hadn't thought of. Being more ready to follow up on crushes and feelings of interest seems an extremely good plan if one is looking for a partner. Can you say more about how you'd follow up? "Being flirty" is a bit vague. What would it take for you to say something directly, or would you always wait for the other to make the first move?
I'm not entirely sure. Thinking about it, though, I think that when I'm interested in someone in that way, there is a pattern in what I tend to do. Not saying that I think this is ideal behaviour (nor that it isn't) either for myself or others, but it does tend to be what I do. Though really, most of my relationships are ones that I just stumble into by accident.
The first step is to try to talk to them more. Find excuses to do so if necessary. Maybe be more open than I would otherwise be. If I know that they're going to be somewhere, try to be there as well (either as a physical event, or just knowing the sort of times they tend to be online, for instance). This is a simple step, because it's pretty much what I'd do with anyone who I thought was nifty and wanted to get to know better It's also an important step for me, because it serves as a filter. Is this person someone I'd really want to be involved with? Am I actually attracted to them, or to some facsimile of them that I keep in my head?
If I already know the person in question very well, then this isn't a necessary step, but I tend to find that most of my relationships seem to spring up when I start getting better acquainted with people who I knew only a little bit beforehand. It can also happen that I'll only realise that I'm interested in someone as I'm getting to know them better, in which case this step is sort of there, but not deliberately.
Then, once I've got reasonably close with someone, if I'm still interested, and if there does seem to be some sort of bond or rapport, then I tend to start being more affectionate -- not in any big way, just little words and gestures here and there -- and I observe how the person responds. The basic idea is that it's a show of interest, to some extent, without being overt about it, so that it's easy to back off with no hurt feelings on either side. If the other person seems to be cold or uncomfortable with shows of affection, then I tend to take that as a sign that they aren't interested in that way and that I should back off. If they seem happy and reciprocal with affection, then I'll generally tend to get progressively more affectionate. If I get mixed signals or no signals, then I suspect I either just give up or actually be explicit and up front, depending on my mood at the time, and who the person is.
If possible, though, I'll only actually come right out and ask when I've picked up the impression that there's a high chance that the other person is interested. I also try not to get carried away up until that point as well, and am generally able to retain mental discipline enough to do so. Because otherwise things can have a tendency to get ugly.
Disclaimer #1: all of my relationships to date have been formed online, though with varying degrees of meeting up in person beforehand, so I guess my methods are mainly attuned to that.
Disclaimer #2: If anyone reading this notices me behaving in any of the above ways towards them, then it does not (necessarily) mean that I'm hitting on you. For starters, this is just my best attempt to describe something nebulous, and on top of that my behaviours are a result of many and varied factors. If for some reason you (generic) want/need to know if I'm hitting on you, then please ask rather than assuming. I promise I'll not be offended.
My own dear Netta found her current partner through speed dating. As my peers are getting towards their 30s, and starting to actively look for people to be with (and feeling that the workplace isn't the place to look!), people are trying things like speed dating and internet dating, with apparent success. My friend Viv actually encouraged me to try internet dating when she thought I'd been single for too long!
I think it's the case that, when we're in our early 20s and in the social environment that is University - with shared accommodation and easy social events and lots of clubs and societies, it's easy to meet a range of people and you'll probably find somebody you like without trying too hard. (Some people of course join societies in order to meet friends and partners, and find like-minded people that way). As people grow a little older, the opportunities for meeting ew people "by accident" dwindle - you probably have your work life, and your established social life with a fairly determined group of friends. So people turn to services created in order to facilitate meeting new people.
Despite Viv's encouragement, I haven't tried such a service yet, and managed to find that special someone sitting right under my nose - but it certainly seems to be catching on among my peer group.
Harrumph. After three months, and a couple of dozen emails sent to the cream of the crop of the several hundred profiles I've looked at, and only getting two positive responses back, and no dates yet at all, I've become rather underwhelmed with internet dating sites.
I suspect my problem might have something to do with using the word "geek" in my profile; some people have told me not to use it... but I can't. It's such a fundamental part of my identity - same as being Jewish - missing it out would feel like lying through omission.
I have not a few good friends who have tried shadchanut...in my limited experience, boys can smell when you're out to get them and they run away. The only decent relationships I've had have been the ones which grew out of friendships. And finding friends? only really works for me if ppl DO something together, although conceivably talking a lot counts on that score.
I've never actively looked either but most of my relationships (in fact, quite possibly all of them) have arisen from having mutual friends and so the advice that I most often give to those desperately seeking a relationship has been to meet lots of people and to make as many friends as possible out of the people you like because you never know which of them might lead you to a partner. It's not just about people leading to people either - most people are at their most attractive and charming when they're around people that they're already close to and so, if you meet a potential love interest when you're around friends, you're more likely to make a good impression or (and this is helpful too) an accurate impression of your personality.
When I have got into relationships, it's been something that "just happened" or was initiated by the other person
To a very large extent that goes for me, too, although in my case it's not because I prefer being single and never try to initiate anything. It just seems that my attempts at initiation are doomed to failure, or at least to fizzle, to the point where I've basically given up (and at the moment I've got so much else to do that I really don't feel that I'm missing much).
But like a couple of other people elsethread, I think as a general rule trying to meet people works better than trying to meet partners. And I would take the point about meeting people being easier at University than in the Real World, except that it's manifestly not true for me. Part of that, but not all of it, is down to the awesome power of this fully-operational people-meeting technology we call LJ. :)
Well, I did _consider_ a deliberate search for a partner in my second year at Uni, but I decided that anything in the way of an active search would just smack of desperation, and hinder rather than help the cause. Instead, I just resolved not to worry about it and got involved in activities and things instead, on the basis that happily single is likely to make a much better impression on people, and thus make finding a partner more likely.
In retrospect, happily single and clean-shaven would probably have been even more helpful. ;)
I do much what you do -- I'm happily single but I have been in relationships that have mostly 'just happened'. Friends that became more than friends, mostly. Tis the best way as far as I'm concerned :)
As for those miserable single ... well, I don't tend to have those sorts of friends. I find they are spineless and have no self confidence and aren't the sorts of people I like. So if you want to help them, get them into happiness with themselves and their own lives and such. Plus, who's going to date someone miserable? might be a reason they are single against their wishes :P
Being open to what might happen seems to have worked for me, along with politely indicating interest when one feels it.
Also, I think it was elisem who pointed out that there is a converse to there being nothing so unattractive as desperation, and that being visibly a person who has a reasonable grasp on and understanding of life and is getting along as best one ccan would appear to help. [ I don't think of this as a criterion for how well one is actually doing at any given time, but for attitude and whether one is making effort to improve things. ]
Amusing subject, am not quite sure whether I can offer any useful advice, not being too active myself. I don't worry too much about me being single. I do try to constantly widen my social circle though, but that is as much for getting new friends as for finding a potential partner.
My flatmate Sigrid on the other hand, is very active and aggressive on the dating front. She dates -even though casual dating isn't particularly common in Norway- a lot. And she is also very open about being single and on the prowl, mostly by being blatantly and over-the-top aggressive sexually - she looks good, knows it and uses to her advantage.
I am not quite sure where she finds all these guys, many of them are friends of friends whom she meets at parties or in bars and ask for / is given their phone number. Then she (spends hours antagonizing before she) sends them a textmessage asking for a date, usually "It was nice talking to you the other day, want to grab a coffee with me sometime this week?" Her approach includes kissing a lot of frogs, snakes and slugs to find the prince. Don't quite know whether it works particularly better than my fence-sitting method. I don't have the energy, aggressiveness, interest, the tough heart and "falling in love aptitude" to do it her way.
I've always been content with being single, so I've never made much of an effort to date. I believe all of my relationships have happened mostly by chance and via mutual friends/interests. My two current relationships are from an internet dating site; one contacted me first, the other grew out of an exchange of hilarious emails.
I'm not one to give good advice about dating for those who are "desperately single" for two reasons: 1. I believe wholeheartedly that one cannot have a successful romantic relationship unless one is capable of being comfortable alone. 2. I don't believe that there is someone for everyone nor do I believe that everyone is somehow entitled to having a fulfilling and lasting romantic relationship. (I do, however, believe that if one is in a relationship, then one is entitled to damn good sex.)
I've never gone looking for a date. Both of my relationships came from friendships. I'm far too shy to make a move unless I'm almost completely certain that the woman is interested. Given that I'm about as observant and perceptive as your average lump of coal this tends to take a while.
And lots of people making it bloody obvious due to the fact that I generally assume that any time some one refers to me as attractive they're either lying to be nice or joking. It takes a lot to convince me that some one really finds me attractive.
Curiously enough (possibly because I'm good at keeping it from being obvious when I like a woman) I've actually made the first move both times. Although with loreid it was a very circumspect move that resulted in her thinking she made the first move for ages.