We know. Frankly, you’re exhausted. You’re sick of dating, you can’t meet anyone you really like and it feels like the world is overrun with an endless number of women all clamouring for the same single guy. But statistically it can’t possibly be true, unless there was a government-sponsored experiment that created a run on girl babies some 30 to 40 years ago. The men are out there, but in your post-bar years you have to be creative to find them.
“It’s a serious project to find a mate,” says Ruth Claramunt, who has run Hearts Introduction Services, an old-fashioned matchmaking business, for almost 25 years. “If you wanted a job, you would go out there and work until you found a job. If you wanted a house, you would look until you found the perfect house. You have to do the same to find a mate,” she says. “The men are in the same boat. They’re thinking, ‘I’m older, I have a great house, I have a great car, I want children, but I’m not meeting anyone.’ But you’re not going to find anyone if you’re sitting at home watching television.”
Here are five fresh ideas to help you find the gent you’ve been waiting for.
Mentoring programs like Big Brothers and Big Sisters are a great way to meet quality guys while doing something good for a kid in need. Selfish jerks don’t generally choose to hang out with a fatherless or troubled kid, so you know their heart is in the right place. Programs differ across the country; there are often group events like picnics and weekends away when all the mentors and their charges get together. Of course, mentoring a vulnerable kid is a big responsibility and requires time commitment, so be sure you’re not in it just for the potential decent-men factor.
A charming pup is the ultimate guy magnet. It turns you into a regular visual presence in your neighbourhood (all the better for the handsome locals to notice you) and brings you into regular contact with other dog owners and, everyone’s favourite, cute veterinarians.
“I knew a lady who actually went and bought a dog so she could meet this veterinarian she was interested in,” laughs Claramunt. It worked. They dated and had a child. (No word on how the dog felt about the addition.) That said, a dog is a big responsibility, but you can always borrow one if you can’t manage your own (plus walking a dog is good exercise). Take a friend’s pup out, or sign up with your local animal shelter or humane society to be a volunteer. Ellen Roer joined a program where she would walk dogs that were being trained to be bomb detectors or seeing-eye dogs. “I did it a little bit to meet men,” she admits sheepishly. “People would see their tiny jackets that said Explosive Detection Dog and it was kind of a magnet.”
You don’t have to sign your life away to a government party to be political. Every city has local civic groups that organize around particular issues or ongoing political interests. You’ll meet men who care about the world and who clearly aren’t unintelligent, unengaged lumps. “When you meet someone in an atmosphere that isn’t a meat market, you’re talking about a topic of substance and you can see how they interact with others,” says Diane Mapes, the author of How to Date in a Post-Dating World. “Are they combative? Do they have charm? Do they seem trustworthy?” One hint: Try to stay away from civic groups focused around kids’ issues. Chances are, those guys are married.
The majority of single Canadians aren’t regular church-goers, so you think the old saw “Why don’t you meet a nice guy at church?” won’t really work for you. But if you have a religious bent or connection to a particular community, it might actually work. Jaishree Bruder, a Hindu, unexpectedly met her husband-to-be at a ritual workshop. “I had actually gone with the full intention that this would just be about me; it wouldn’t be about meeting men or any distractions like that,” she laughs. “I asked him to marry me that night.” For Bruder, in addition to the flying sparks, there was the important fact that they already shared core beliefs. “If you can’t find somebody that syncs with you, it will cause trouble down the road.”
Online dating is no secret, but you may have better luck joining one of the growing list of niche sites, rather than choosing from the smorgasbord of completely inappropriate men you meet on the larger ones. “Guys on the big sites just take a scattershot approach,” says Mapes. “They automatically send an email to every single breathing girl. For most women, it’s like romantic spam. They may as well be saying “Enlarge your penis” or “Buy vinyl siding”.
These days, there is a huge array of specified dating sites – everything from horse lovers to single parents to people who are into country dancing – and a narrower pool of men who share your specific interests or goals.