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Finding Dates

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 4th 2016

Finding people to date can seem like a big task to someone who has not been dating for awhile. Fortunately, there are now probably more ways than ever before to make connections. Here are a few tips for getting started.

Be Creative

Left on their own, many people look for dating partners within the circle of people they already know or meet on a regular basis. This strategy works well when you have a rich and varied social life, but it works poorly when you don't. Young people in school environments tend to have little difficulty meeting appropriate partners as there are so many single peers around them.  Older people can have a tougher time of it, particularly if they do not belong to social or religious groups outside of work. If you are wanting to date but don't know where to find potential partners, think about expanding the ways you look for dates. Religious and social groups are fine, as is work within certain limits, but also consider going out of your way to join service, business and hobby groups where you will meet people you don't already know. Consider the personal ads, both online and otherwise. Also, consider telling trusted friends about your desire to meet someone so that they can introduce you to people they may know, or help you to brainstorm ways to meet people you may not have previously considered.

Be Proactive, Be Shameless

Creative solutions for meeting people to date are fine, but they won't help someone who feels ashamed or embarrassed to implement them. People carry around a lot of cultural shame about the dating process. Women (and some men too) may feel it is inappropriate for them to be active in searching for a date. They would feel embarrassed if any of their friends or co-workers found out they had taken out a personals ad and teased them. Somehow dating is just supposed to happen, and it is a sign of desperation if one needs to take matters into their own hands. Men and women both may simply feel inadequate, expecting that no one would want to date them. Either case adds up to a situation where lonely people can end up failing to take actions necessary to find a date. The thing about waiting for someone to approach you is that most of the time no one will -- not because there is anything necessarily wrong with you, but because you have not made yourself approachable and/or noticeable.

It is important that you come to terms with any feelings of embarrassment or shame you may have around the dating process. What exactly are you afraid will happen if you did 'act desperately' and took out a personals ad and 'got caught' by co-workers? Even if they teased you, would that be so bad? What is it about you that is so awful that no one would want to date you? Are you so all-knowing that you can really anticipate that no one will like you? -- or are you maybe over-generalizing? Probably you are over-generalizing. There is likely to be someone out there who could accept you for who you happen to be.

Taking a proactive approach to dating (taking risks, trying new ways to meet people, being direct in communicating your desire to date someone rather than waiting for them to read your mind) is a good plan if you want to increase the number of dates you have, and widen the types of people you are able to meet. Remember that dating, like sales, is a numbers game. You will likely have to date a number of people before you find someone with whom you 'click'. Doing what you can do in order to generate more dates will get you closer to finding someone with whom you can share a relationship far faster than will being passive.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and I am from Saturn - Gabbyco - Sep 6th 2010

    I swallowed my pride and had a positive reply back. I do like this guy I really do because there is a physical and mental spark somewhere - fingers crossed he might just sweep me off my feet it is possible at my weight and height - not many intersexuals can say they are 135lbs with size 6 feet.

    So on a positive note there is hope for me yet, I just hope it doesn't become a bitter moon experience as in the film

    It's not easy finding someone - Gabbyco - Sep 5th 2010

    I spent a long time talking to someone who was clearly playing mind games with me and wasn't genuine

    As a post op ts I find it difficult, although I do look good and I am OK and better looking than most other women including genetic I hate lying to people and I also hate having to tell the truth about this at least so it is a real dilemma

    It causes me a lot of anxiety and worry.

    Anyway this person asked me for inappropriate pictures of my vagina and this and that I wasn't going to send them to him, everytime I should have met him he cancelled with some excuse clearly a time waster

    He said on Friday when I emailed and really told him what I thought of him for the fourth wasted time, that I was a nutter, a psycho that everyone in my town knows I am nuts he is clearly a psychiatrist or listens to hear say when I hardly know anyone and basically reduced me to tears calling me a retard amongst many other things

    I don't see my illness as a mental illness because I am intersexed due to infertility that I discoved when I went for tests at the London Hospital in Waterloo a decade ago. As a result of those tests and my gender having impacted on my life both as a he and as a she, I changed gender. I am happy and settled in my gender but unfortunately if it becomes known what you are in a town, in your field, you might as well not pass

    Although I don't have mental illness other than depression from constant discrimination including this man for example I would not date someone with mental health problems because I have my own problems and although very strong and strong willed mentally I can't carry someone weaker than me.

    I usually get the extremes, unattractive needy men who I don't fancy, or arrogant married men who I fancy but are bastards so there you have it

    I do have the right to date straight men because if you met me it really is hard to tell these days that I used to be a man and for me at my age I have now spent nearly 40 per cent of my life as a female - I have no regrets and will die a woman sadly a single woman what a waste and I am attractive too - I wish there was a god to bring me someone decent there isn't sad isn't it

    never been sectioned - gabbyco - Aug 15th 2010

    I have never been sectioned or anything like that and although I have depression from being a post op ts, and I pass reasonably well I find it impossible to find anyone decent.

    I know I get treated like I am nuts but that's life, sometimes if your perceived to be ill even if you aren't you just have to accept that you are single that is life !

    You can still enjoy life. I don't need a partner I have myself - transexualism is a hard life no matter how any one would pass

    And no I would not date someone who is mentally ill because I have enough of my own stress and don't want anyone else's to push me over the edge.

    Good luck to all those who are mentally ill - let's hope your luck rubs off on a nice looking post op ts that seeks Mr Charming but has failed to find what she wants

    Passivity Somewhat Doesn't Matter for Women - smarTpants - Dec 14th 2008

    You write here that "The thing about waiting passively for someone to approach you is that most of the time no one will".  This isn't true for attractive, intelligent women, as opposed to men, and this is what causes me so much pain and heartbreak in my life.

    No women of commensurate attractiveness and intelligence as me would go for even 1 month without getting hit on.  All they have to do is go out and men will come to them.  I, on the other hand, being attractive, fit, educated and intelligent, have never had 1 women in my demographic hit on me or strike up a conversation.

    Women (rightly) want equality and respect.  And there are plenty of us good guys who agree with them.  And you can see women and men out who are obviously in a relationship rewarding for both of them, based on a fair amount of equality.  So if we both like relative equality, once we're in a relationship, why do women insist on following traditional cultural norms and forcing us men to chase them?

    They get all the flattery and attention, and I get none.  I want to be desired and pursued, sometimes, too!!! 

    Are we selling cars here? - - Mar 18th 2007
    Or are we trying to meet someone. Its so funny how some people want us to change our behavior before we can meet someone. You be a car salesman, I'll be me . Thank you.

    mental illness - jim - Mar 15th 2007

    geting a date with mental illness can be tough but there are web sites like no longer lonly web site free for mentily ill for friendship or romance, no need to live isolated

    Complicated - Paul - Nov 19th 2006
    Funny thing dating, like others said, its often difficult when someone (you) is having difficulties of a mental nature to find that someone special to share your life with, perhaps dating online would help reach though those social barriers and help people share their lives, I'm not sure if I'm lucky or not but I found some speical lady purely by chance in an English Pub one evening, while drowning my sorrows this lady asked me if a fancied a night out on the town with her, it turns out that she has 2 schizophrenic brothers and another with personality disorder, so she found me quite attractive? because I suffer with psycosis? (yet undiagnosed fully) The truth is, I was and still am very shy, because of the way I am, I don't think if it had been for that chance meeting I would every have found anybody, so why not a dating site for nutty people like me, after all, most people I know that have mental dissorders and are in relationships met in our local metal hospital! why not bring the 'forum' online to reach many more people? QED?

    mental illnesses is only one part of the whole - taylor - Nov 18th 2006
    As a late twenty-something diagnosed with clinical depression and social anxiety, I can empathize with and relate to the difficulties each condition poses to dating, from simply surviving a date to sharing my condition with a caring partner. Despite these challenges, the conditions are simply one part of a person's self, not the overaching identity, and the person is highly capable of having healthy relationships. Therefore, the notion of marketing oneself as "mentally ill" and then anticipating being compatible with only the "mentally ill" seems self-defeating and self-confining. In fact, it sounds more like seeking codependency. I encourage the "mentally-ill" to shuck the label and view it as only one part (albeit an important one) of your total self.

    people need people - shellie - Jul 21st 2006
    I agree with what you said that there are no dating/sites for people who have mental illness/physical disabilities. It gets rather lonely, I'm not hiding myself away because I have a mental illness, but don't ya think you might have more in common with someone else who had an illness/physical disabilty like your own. My guess is to just start putting it out there and telling it like it is. Use the salesman approach for every no you get then your that much closer to a yes.

    relationships for recovering mental health patients - gary keane - Jun 29th 2006

    seems dating agencies only want perfect people with careers.how about people who have had mental/phyisical problems and are recieving benefits who actually have more problems. we need our own freindship/dating site [sorry for not being perfect]

    Editor's Note: Check out NoLongerLonely.com, an online social community and dating website for adults with mental illness. Stuff like this is out there; you just have to look for it.

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