Dating techniques
Finding a potential date
Flirting and body language
Internet dating
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Finding a potential date
Steven Anderson


There are loads of excuses for avoiding going out and meeting people, but it's easy to turn the anxiety about a first encounter into an enjoyable and fun way of making new friends - and maybe even getting a date.

"I never meet anyone new. There aren't any single people out there." These are just some of the excuses people give for being single, but there really are no excuses for not getting out there. There are people everywhere and many of them are single and also looking for a partner.

You can try clubs, pubs, wine bars and parties, but there's an abundance of other less obvious places that are hot spots for initial encounters. You can meet your potential partner anywhere; in the office lift, on the train, or even at the supermarket, so you should always be on the look out. Here are a few suggestions to get you going.

Join an evening class

Taking an evening class can help you make many new friends. The after-class drink always provides opportunities for getting to know your classmates better. Think about going to classes where you are likely to meet people of the opposite sex - not many men do needlework! Remember - at least you're learning new skills if nothing else!

Join a dance class

Dance classes, such as Salsa and Ceroc, are a fantastic place to meet people - there's no pressure, everyone is having fun and women as well as men are happy to ask people to dance.

Go late night shopping

Supermarkets are another good venue to meet people and with practice you'll soon be able to spot the singles shopping for one.

Visit an art gallery

The beauty of art galleries is that they're places where it's socially acceptable to go on your own. There are also plenty of people around and the exhibits provide a good conversational opening.

Go to the theatre

Theatres might not seem the most obvious place to find a potential partner, but you'd be surprised how many people go on their own. The interval provides a good opportunity to spot the single person and throw in a passing comment about the play.

You've got some ideas of where to meet people but how do you start talking to them?

Approach scenarios

You have to create opportunities where you can subtly talk to someone without it feeling like you're chatting them up!

This means thinking of 'approach scenarios' rather than just chat-up lines. Create a situation where you can start a conversation and be adventurous in the way you go about it. It doesn't have to be in a bar, party or club, supermarkets are also ideal places to meet people.

Make sure you're looking good; prepare yourself as if you are going out (dress accordingly, even if it's only a supermarket you still want to look the business).

Choose a trolley rather than a basket as this offers you more mobility. Scrutinise the trolleys and baskets of fellow shoppers - when you notice the frozen meal for one or a lone bottle of chardonnay make your approach.

The wine section is always a good choice. Ice breakers you could use are: "Excuse me, sorry to interrupt but I'm cooking pasta tonight and only usually drink white wine - my guests are all into red, can you recommend something?" or "Excuse me (again 'sorry to interrupt' shows good manners, another attractive quality) I wonder if you can help me, I know nothing about white wine could you recommend something to go with salmon steaks?".

Now you have instigated the conversation, the wheels are in motion!

A note for men

Take care when chatting women up that you don't come on too strong as a woman on her own could find this intimidating. Also, women are naturally more helpful and ready to assist and don't mind providing assistance altruistically without a need for gain or reward. While seeking advice make sure you're getting the 'she's interested signals' and not in 'general help mode'. Tracey Cox's feature on flirting and the five secret sexual signals should help you in this department - see Related Links.

A note for women

It's important to remember that men function on a different level to women. If they're attracted to you or interested they'll not only talk about the wine, they'll enquire about the dish you're cooking and find any excuse to keep the conversation going.

Match your listener's mood

One third of initial impressions come from how we say things. The tone, inflection and delivery are very important. (Tracey Cox's feature on body language and the five secret sexual signals has more about this.)

One of the key things in initiating conversation is to match your listener's mood, even if it's just for a moment, because misreading this can kill the conversation from the outset.

When you approach someone who's caught your eye you have to make a quick judgement. Gauge whether they're buoyant, quiet or bored and then adjust your tone accordingly.

Also, your approach will have to be a little different, depending on where you are. In the park for instance, you need to have a light and easy banter - "Where's the café or pavilion?" whereas in a pub or club you can be a bit more cheeky and flirty.

Five tips for success
  1. Avoid cheesy chat up lines and focus more on 'approach scenarios'.
  2. Ask questions and show a genuine interest in what the other person is saying.
  3. Match your listener's mood.
  4. Having engaged your potential date in conversation don't over-stay your welcome. Remember less is more!
  5. When you've secured the phone number of your potential date it's a good idea to text message them (if they have a mobile). Texting means there is no pressure on either side.