Is Meeting People Tougher Than Math?

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The abundance of attractive and available people in my life gets smaller and smaller as I get older. In high school and college, there were cute girls aplenty. Then, right after college, a bunch of us "young professionals" hit the bars hard and tried to find our way. I no longer see those giant groups of girls in the bars, unless they are younger.

The funny thing is, when we were younger, we took it all for granted. My buddies and I went to see my buddy's little brother at the beach last summer. His little brother and his friends eventually kicked all the girls out of their party. We asked them why they were doing that, and they said:

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"They're annoying, we wanna hang out with you guys."

We didn't get it. But, we remembered we were once like that.

Now, the big challenge is meeting people. The filters that work on the single, attractive, and available population — committed relationship/marriage, stress at work, general real-life issues — take effect as we get older.

I hear people complain all the time: They can't find anywhere or any way to meet people. It got me thinking: When should we turn to more "practical" ways of meeting people?

Practical ways of meeting people cut to the chase: Okay, you are single and you want to meet a single person. Here are some practical ways to meet someone:

Getting Set Up — When you're that last single person in the group, like me, people think you need to be set up so you can be like them. They all go out of their way, because they think you are unhappy because you're single.

Some people are clearly better than others at this. I have two sets of friends — one couple is married with children, and another couple will soon be married — who have met through me. I don't try to set anyone up, I just enjoy going out with all of my friends. So, I work hard to merge my college friends with my work friends with my high school friends.

Then there's my sister, who claims she's there to help me meet girls. She recently asked me to meet her friend, but I wasn't interested upon meeting that friend. Just a week later, my sister had me meet her at a bar because she had a friend I just "had to meet." My sister grabbed me by the arm and led me through the crowd, yelling cliché "guys love this" phrases like:

"You'll love her: big boobs, big boobs!"

When I got to the destination it turned out to be the same girl my sister had introduced me to the week before! Either there's some short-term memory there, or my sister is not the best fixer-upper.

Online Dating — Create a profile, and let 'er rip. It's pretty easy to put yourself out there and sum yourself up in a page or two and then let people find you. You can also browse other people's profiles. This is the ultimate convenience.

Singles Bars/Parties — While most bars may have a balance of single and committed people, singles parties simply raise the odds that that person you are meeting is indeed single.

I remember that embarrassing "extra help" stigma in high school math. There were the smart people who were able to comprehend the lecture, do the homework, and memorize equations. Then there were the mental circus freaks, like me, who couldn't grasp the concepts, memorize the formulas, or do the homework. When the teacher suggested we get extra help, we bristled.

Perhaps these "practical" dating strategies feel like extra help to some of us. We don't want to acknowledge that we need outside assistance to meet someone. I'm not sure what to think of practical methods. It could be really helpful, but I can't seem to shake that "extra math help" feeling. Besides, if my dating skills are like my math skills, no amount of extra help could get me afloat.

What are your thoughts on practical ways of meeting people? Are you reluctant to follow routes that feel like "extra help"? Do you think it's dangerous to set up an ideal way to meet people? What practical ways of meeting people have worked for you — online dating, getting set up, or other ways?

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