The Quest - Part III
Ten - Lorraine
After Walter, I was done
interviewing my Magnificent Seven. Now I wanted
to talk with some more observers of the Houston social scene to get
instructor Lorraine seemed like a good person to
interview. Lorraine had a
vivacious, outgoing personality. She was sassy and enjoyed
insulting her students with good-natured barbs. “How are
you ever going to catch Dreamboy with all that flab?” or
“Start moving that ass like a man is watching and not a
Deep down, we
knew she was on our side. We all accepted Lorraine’s
goading because she knew this was her way of motivating us
to push harder. If it meant being reminded of our physical
shortcomings, so be it. This was a message we needed to
hear. If we wanted to look good, there was no room for
Lorraine gave me
a few minutes after class. As I studied her sculpted,
beautifully curved 32 year old body plus her considerable
good looks, I assumed Lorraine was exactly the sort of woman
men were looking for. I began our talk by stating the
obvious. “I look at you, Lorraine, and I see a bright,
energetic, confident woman. I assume you have
more men pursuing you than you can handle.”
and modestly confirmed my suspicions.
“Yes, I get
my fair share of offers. Unfortunately these offers are
not always from the men I am interested in. The Book of
Love has many chapters. We all want what we can’t
have. I can have all these men, but I want the ones I
can’t have. I want someone who is my equal, my match,
or maybe I can catch someone a grade above me.
Unfortunately the guys who I think are my match avoid
commitment like the plague. Women come so easily to
them that they amuse themselves in a flurry of dating. Why
bother settling down?
wonder if the women of the Fifties knew what they were
doing. From what I have heard, they
seemed to have a lot more control over their men than we
do today. The world was separated into good girls
and bad girls.
Back then most of the women had
the sense to
would make out, get their boyfriends all hot and bothered,
then send them home sex-crazed out of their minds. Good
girls simply did not go all the way. "Do you think we
could get married?"
Horny out of their minds,
those boys were forced to get married
or die of sexual frustration. Next thing you knew,
women were having kids left and right. They didn’t call
it the Baby Boom for nothing. Those Fifties girls
really knew how to close the
days the good girls give it up almost as fast as the bad
girls. And if we don’t give it to them, they’ll just
get it from the girl sitting on the bar stool next to
us. Things are all screwed up these days. No wonder we
can’t close the deal. Maybe it’s time to close ranks
again for our own good. Maybe these no-commitment guys
will come back to bargaining table.
that I don’t think men know what they really want. They
keep me at arm’s length saying they don’t want to get
emotionally involved. So I take them at their word and
ratchet down my expectations. If no one better is on
the horizon, sometimes I settle for having a good time,
but I still keep my distance. Once they sense my
aloofness, they get all excited and start to mumble out
how ‘someday’ they wish they could have someone special
‘like me’ to come home to. Or
marry someone 'like me' and travel the world together. When
I casually ask if that ‘someone’ could be me
instead someone 'like me', they jump
back like I have a burning torch in my hand.
They want the
warmth, but they are afraid of the warmth. The trouble
is, women aren’t faucets. We can’t turn our feelings on
and off to satisfy the ever-changing moods of the dance
away lovers. I always find myself walking a tightrope
with a man who can’t decide what he wants.
I want to care about someone, but I
am afraid to. I am sick and tired of getting hurt.
I give up six months or even a
year of my life waiting for this guy to pop the
question, and then one day I get the "thanks for the
memories, let's be friends" crap.
Now I am heartbroken. It
takes me weeks, maybe even months to put the pain and
disappointment behind me. It has happened three times
now. I get to the point where I am afraid to try
made one discovery and I am not happy about it. No
matter fickle men are, I can have practically any
man I want the moment I show interest in other men.
All I have to do is feign interest in some other guy
and the previously distant Iceman melts before
my very eyes. Frosty the Snowman turns to mush
thanks to jealousy he has no
control over. Men want what they can’t
have. Men want the woman all the other men want so
they can hold her up like a valuable trophy. ‘Look
at me. This is the girl all the men want, but she’s
mine so I must be quite a guy!’
problem is, that’s not how I want to get a ring. I
want a man, not some puppy dog I can manipulate with
a dog treat. I usually don’t play dirty because it
is beneath me. Life is long. Someday I will meet a
man who recognizes my value and will want me as a
companion to conquer the world with.”
Eleven - Lost and Confused
My talk with Lorraine shook me up.
This was too much
to comprehend. When it came to the
conversations about Love, every person I talked to encouraged me
in some ways, but more often than not I
felt discouraged. My
optimism about the affairs of men and women began to rise
and fall like the stock market.
I found my
emotions and confidence level fluctuating wildly. It all
depended on who I spoke to last.
I realized that I
had come into this project far more vulnerable than I had
ever imagined. Surrounded by friends and
responsibilities back at the University,
I was never lonely. It never dawned on me that I could
ever be lonely. I was that secure.
Now I found
myself immersed in a painful crash course that revealed
vulnerabilities and fears I never knew I had till now. I
had arrived in the Big City naïve
and soft. Now I felt stupid.
The huge supply of available men on campus tricked me
into assuming the world outside the
ivy-covered walls was full of good men
as well. Boy, was I wrong!
Now the fact that an elite woman like Lorraine wasn’t having any
better luck finding the right guy than the rest of us
brought me despair.
If a superwoman
like Lorraine who had been around the block 15 more times
than me was having trouble, was there any hope for me? If
Lorraine with her pick of the litter couldn’t
land a good
man, how could I? All these
obstacles! All these barriers!!
I think listening to the stories of
the seven men upset me the most of all.
Lorraine was right. These men
were so attractive that they had a constant supply of women
willing to audition for the position of girlfriend and
potential wife. The men would string them along for a
year, then send them packing. Thanks for the fun!
See you around!
Meanwhile Lorraine was a year older.
She had a broken heart and one less year on that biological
clock. Even worse, she was growing hard and cynical.
The school of hard knocks had robbed her of the cheerful
optimism that makes a woman attractive. Would she find
the right guy before she got too bitter to trust again?
Will Gary with his macho
confidence ever make himself available? Will Jeffrey ever
put his college sweetheart behind him and try again?Will
Malcolm meet the right girl and be willing to forgo his trip
to the Nile? Will the endless
series of one-night stands ever grow
old for Miguel? Will Jacob spend the rest of his life on
call? Will Peter have the sense to ship his daughter off to
a distant college and use his empty nest to
fill the void in his life? How will Walter ever find a
woman as talented as he is? Or will his fears of someone
marrying him for his money force him to hide behind walls or
live up in outer space for the rest of his life?
I had lots of
questions. I needed some answers. Next on my list of
interviews was Houston psychotherapist Patrick Smith. Maybe
he could cheer me up.
out that being single isn’t necessarily a stepping stone to
marriage. One of the most important tasks in life is
exploring relationships. The best time for that is
adolescence. However thanks to imperfect parents, some
people don’t make it out of adolescence emotionally intact.
Now they have to learn their lessons the hard way in college
or in their early 20s.
believed that romance is something of a miracle.
Problem One is that
there aren’t a lot of people who fit together romantically.
Problem Two is the 'Timing' issue Gary
Since finding the perfect match is so rare, the next
question is whether to wait or to ‘settle’. Patrick
believes the high divorce rate can be attributed to the
great number of people who grow impatient and take a leap of
faith. They give up hope on the thought of romantic love
and settle for a practical relationship in order to have
It ain’t love,
but close enough. Sometimes that works
but usually it
doesn’t. 'Close enough' doesn't cut
it in the long run. Next thing you know,
the parents are arguing
whether to stay together for the kid’s sake.
Damaged children are the ugly
consequence of bad matches.
said a lot of the same things that Walter had
shared. In Patrick’s opinion, the modern day
confusion all started with widespread birth control,
gained momentum with women’s liberation, and got
crazier with so many women joining the work force.
daycare, now everyone is trying to find the new
family model to replace Ozzie and Harriett. Witness
the success of the Brady Bunch, a recent
example of two broken families using each other to
mend. Sitcoms featuring single parents with kids are
the day of the little woman staying home to clean
house, diaper the kids and cook the meal is over.
Most modern households need that second paycheck
just to make ends meet and buy that house in the
suburb. Women’s economic power and sexual freedom
bring them closer to the day when men can no longer
call all the shots.
are being forced to adjust on the fly.
Unfortunately they can’t necessarily look to their
own fathers or to television to find their role
models. Archie Bunker, the icon father of
Seventies, was just as confused as everyone else.
His main value was showing
men who not to do it.
woman is freer and better educated than ever
before. No longer are women forced to find a mate
to survive. Most women can stand on their own feet
and find a job. Nor are they forced to “wait” for
sexual gratification like the women of the Fifties.
If they desire sex, the pill says nothing is
These developments give single women
far more latitude in choosing a mate than their
mothers ever had. Today’s women actually get to
take their man out for a spin before making the
final move. Not only that, they usually have enough
sexual experience to rate his performance.
Chapter Twelve - Is
Commitment Really Such a Bad Thing?
The big question is if this is an
improvement over previous times. Is today’s
woman necessarily better off with all these choices?
None of the women
I spoke to wished to go back to the days of Donna Reed and
Harriett Nelson, but they admit they are conflicted about
how best to take advantage of the abundant new options.
That conflict is
no more evident than women’s attitudes about sex. After the
sexual freedom of the Sixties and Seventies, women are
forced to admit that sex doesn’t necessarily bring the
instant intimacy they hoped for. Far too often the initial
heat between two potential lovers evaporated into
one-night stands and no relationship.
Would things have worked better if they
No issue bothered women more than the
controversy about living together. The overwhelming
consensus is that this gave most of the advantages to the
men. I asked several women if she felt short-changed
living with a man. Usually I would get a frown and a
begrudging admission it didn't work out like she had hoped.
My friend Elaine was adamant that
living together was a terrible mistake. It gave the men all
the benefits of a committed relationship without having to
make a commitment.
"I spent a year living with my
last boyfriend. I did the groceries, did the cooking,
washed the dishes, made the bed, washed the clothes,
folded the clothes, vacuumed, and cleaned the toilet.
Plus I worked during the day and paid half the rent and
half the bills. Plus I gave him sex whenever he
asked nicely enough. He was so terrible in bed I
actually felt sorry for him. But we were headed
toward marriage, so I gave in. No point in
alienating the future father of my children.
But I wasn't happy. I rotated
between feeling like a housekeeper who worked for free
and a whore who worked for free. One day Paul got
a job in another city and said he would miss me.
Could we still be friends?
I felt sick to my stomach.
The pain was so great I actually ran to the bathroom and
vomited. As I cleaned up the mess, I was consumed by
an actual desire to hurt the man. I have never
felt so deceived, so taken advantage of in my entire life. Promises,
promises. I will never live with another man
again. If a man wants to live with me, marry me
As Walter pointed
out, the herpes scare brought the Sexual Revolution to a
grinding halt. With everyone putting on the brakes, both
men and women were suddenly a lot less interested in
recreational sex if it carried the very real danger of
Out of nowhere,
the age-old concept of being ‘faithful’ took on new
sex between one man and one woman with no
fooling around didn't seem like such a bad idea. The
pendulum began to swing back in favor of committed
Speaking on behalf of the women I know, I
can safely say most of us sighed with relief.
this is my own opinion, but most women would
much rather return
to the era of “Stand by Your Man”.
This meant Marriage... a husband and wife
committed to each other, ready to raise a
family and watch the stars
Sure, sex without love can be satisfying, but I know very few women who prefer
'raw sex' as
some call it to sex
combined with romance. Now maybe we could concentrate on
the thing most women care about – intimacy and
psychotherapist, a lady who preferred not to be named, sent
me back into a tailspin. She stated her belief that for
every ten bright, energetic, emotionally healthy women,
there might be perhaps five men who are an immediate equal.
My jaw dropped with that statement. Seeing the alarm on my
face, the same lady was quick to offer a ray of hope. It is
her belief that men have a great capacity to grow in a
it the ‘positive effect of finding a good woman’,
the therapist said men who enter a committed
relationship usually make all sorts of progress
thanks to the nurturing benefits of a caring woman.
Yes, men mature more slowly than women, but most of
them are not the total dolts of sitcoms. They may
not perfect on delivery, but if they make strides
during courtship, this bodes well for similar
improvement within a marriage. As this therapist
pointed out, men reap far more benefits in marriage
than women. One reason is that they have a woman
exerting a positive influence.
Considering how most men would consider that
statement an insult, I could certainly see why
she preferred to
stayed anonymous. I wasn’t sure I liked it very
much either, but for different reasons.
mulled her views over, I did my best to find the
positive side of message. According to this lady,
men are clearly less mature than women. However,
theoretically, the influence of a good woman will
work wonders. Does that mean modern woman is meant
to be as much ‘mother’ as wife or girlfriend? Or
has that always been the way it is and no one told
us when we were growing up?
is that man is not complete until he meets a woman
and then he is finished. Humor aside, I would agree
from my recent research that a lot of the men out
there are not quite as well-rounded as most women
would like them to be. However these men are certainly
not hopeless. The phrase ‘boys will be boys’
rattled around in my mind.
It is a poorly disguised
secret among women that we agree most men need to
“grow up”. So maybe this therapist’s controversial
statement isn’t something I didn’t already know to
begin with. For that matter, even some of the men I
spoke to said that men are slower to mature. Okay,
so some men are more perfect than others. Got it.
All I know is that every woman I know enjoys the
company of men… most of the time. There is hope for
the human race.
- End Game
As ye sow, so
shall ye reap. About the time I finished my interview cycle
with Houston’s most eligible bachelors, many of the seeds
that I had planted in the first month of my Quest came to
fruition in the second month. I was suddenly besieged with
offers to do things not just by men, but women too.
I had put myself
out there in a powerful way; now those energies came back in
a karmic explosion. I would nearly kill myself in the next
few weeks from frenetic activity. I nearly keeled over from
exhaustion. My obituary would surely read “death by fun”.
In between phone
calls and frantic spur of the moment dates with my personal
ad pen pals and computer contacts, I traveled all over town
and indulged in every sort of social activity. As I
pondered my sudden emergence as the “It” girl, I still
managed to keep my eye on the ball.
I was the woman
in charge of finding men for the Sisterhood.
That was the whole point of the Quest.
‘I know they are out there’, I told myself.
I got a hold of a
valuable resource listing all sorts of clever places to meet
men. This list had surely been written by some enterprising
woman who had probably learned about these places while
blazing a trail similar to mine a few years earlier. This
resource was a veritable goldmine of good ideas to continue
I went to Unity
Church one Sunday and lifted my spirits with song. At the
conclusion of the service, I whispered a prayer, “Lord, let
there be peace on earth and help me find where the men are
I went to
Galveston as a volunteer on the tall ship Elissa.
To my pleasant surprise, my prayers had been immediately
answered. There was a whole nest of cute guys. Definitely
a place for a girl on the hunt to check out. Good place to
get a tan, too.
three-legged races at a Jewish Community Center picnic.
I hobnobbed with
intellectuals at the Van Gogh exhibit at the Museum of Fine
I had lunch at
the Houston Chronicle for a conference of Houston media
representatives. Many men. Many many men. Yes. And very
I met with fellow
bookworms at a reading club at the Downtown Library. To my
delight, there were three men in the group I considered to
be sharp guys.
I attended a
conference at Rice University on the future of newspapers.
Like the event at the Chronicle, I trembled at the abundance
of attractive, intelligent men. These men reminded me of
the same guys I known back in college… bright, inquisitive,
determined to change the world. I smiled in the knowledge
that all those Young Men from college really were still
Six women lawyers
placed a group personal ad and invited me to their party at
Café Adobe to stock the pond with extra women. We were
there to greet the men chosen from 200 respondents.
One night I
joined two girlfriends for a night of dancing at élan,
Houston’s fanciest Disco. There was a score of handsome
businessmen there, but they preferred to drink and watch
rather than actually dance. Too bad. The three of us ended
up taking turns dancing with a young man my age named Hank
who could really move. I chatted with Hank long enough to
discover he was dirt poor. He had used a friend’s pass to
get in. I was amused to see Hank was the one who got the
girl. My friend Pat left with him while the Fat Cats
watched in disbelief. Surely there’s a lesson here.
I went to an
Amnesty International meeting, to a movie at the Jung
Center, and to a macrobiotic dinner at the Yoga Center. I
even flirted with the men in my coed aerobics class.
Slowly but surely
as I established my network of contacts, the men were coming
out of hiding. Or maybe they had been there all along and I
had been looking in the wrong places.
truth, I engaged on a whirlwind tour of dating. Some days I
might have three different meetings. I had breakfast dates
at the House of Pies, lunch dates at the Hobbit Hole, dinner
dates at Vargo's. I had frozen
yogurt dates, hot dog dates, book store dates, and jogging
Along the way, I
got horribly confused about who was who and at what stage
the relationship was at. This wasn’t just an assignment
anymore. This had all become very personal. One day I
finally admitted the truth. I wasn’t just looking for a
boyfriend; I was looking for the One. After all this work,
I wanted a husband.
My editor had
chosen me for this assignment because I was perfect. Fresh
out of graduate school, new to Houston, with no bitterness
towards men and totally unattached, who could possibly be
better than me to send out on the Quest?
Delores had a
hunch I was in for more than I bargained for. Her last
words of advice? “Guard your heart, child.” Ah, famous
last words indeed. Did I listen? Well, I heard what she
said, but I had no idea she had envisioned the jam I would
get myself into.
needed my beloved mother, may she rest in peace,
more than ever. Here I was, the gentle daughter,
the bookworm who was too busy to date in college,
now juggling four boyfriends with two more distinct
possibilities on the way.
first time in my entire life, I had actually been
forced to resort to fibbing to get through the day.
As each relationship moved forward, each man became
more curious about my Quest or more specifically how
I was spending my time and with whom. I was
besieged with an astonishing barrage of questions.
To my surprise, I had so many irons in the fire that
even a smart girl like me began to have trouble
remembering what I had told to whom. This was
Fortunately I had one ultimate shield and I used it
whenever I got in a jam. Whenever someone got a
little too close to the fact that I was seeing half
of Houston, I simply explained that these weren’t
dates, these were “appointments” for my article.
Except that some were really dates with another
man. I idly wondered if my magazine had a Reporter
Protection Program when this was all over. I might
My Life had
become one long, endless date. It was time. I knew it and
I suspected my editor knew it too. Delores had called me.
It was time to come for a talk.
On the morning of
my scheduled meeting, my mind was so abuzz with stories,
facts, and impressions that I could not calm myself down.
If I didn’t collect my thoughts, I would make a complete
fool of myself at the meeting. In desperation for
sanctuary, I went to the Cheesecake Connection for a
much-needed treat. I intended to take my prize to a corner
and organize my presentation.
Nosy by nature,
one simple question revealed that Jack, the man who helped
me, was the owner. I could not resist asking. It was
practically a reflex behavior now. “Are you by chance
“As a matter, yes
I am,” Jack replied, a little surprised by my boldness.
I blushed. Where
was that shy, tentative girl who had demanded men slip their
driver’s license under the door at the start of the Quest?I
barely recognized myself any more.
store was empty and Jack was curious, so I whipped out my
note pad. Now that I had discovered Jack was another single
Houston man, I immediately began to pepper the poor man with
questions. Pretty soon I forgot what I had come here for in
the first place – a little solitude. Instead I had spent my
precious hour of free time cluttering my mind with more
information. Plus I got cheesecake on my notes. I am such
a klutz when I get excited.
I can’t keep this
up, I thought. I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.
As it turned out,
my talk with Jack would mark the end of my interview cycle.
My editor suggested it was time to put something on paper.
I heard the message loud and clear. Stop flirting and get
to work. Yes, Ma’am.
My working title
for this piece was “A Manic Depressive Tour of the Houston
Mating Crisis” because I swung back and forth so many times
between wild optimism and deep discouragement.
So where did I
stand at the Finish Line? What did I have to show for all
these dates and my hope chest full of file folders on the
I have talked
with 100 men and gone out with 50 of them. It made me
busier than I have ever been in my life. I had so much fun,
and I did need that. I have never laughed so much in my
life. Okay, so maybe our anonymous therapist is right.
Maybe only half of these guys have grown up. Who cares?
They make me happy.
I had no idea boys can be this much fun.
Of the 50 I went
out with, 15 are of real interest to me. After the article,
I intend to get to know all of them better, some as friends,
some as, well, we’ll see. I might even marry one of them
after I travel up the Nile and down the Amazon.
Of the 15, four
men have already become dear to me. I make a point of
seeing them regularly. I have had at least enough sense to
keep each of these men at half an arm’s length with the
promise that I will see much more of each of them when the
project is over. I dread being forced to choose.
my onset of stress-induced mental illness caused by
an overdose of men, I consider my Quest a success.
Okay, yes, maybe I overdid it. I am a nervous wreck
thanks to too many men in too short a time as one
friend cattily put it.
have so much to show for my adventure. My contact
with 100 different men helped my self-confidence
around guys grow dramatically. I had not dated much
in high school and college, but this whirlwind crash
course definitely brought me up to speed. I can
safely say that I now know every trick in the book
and every line backwards and forwards.
even hold my alcohol a little. Along the way I
learned the meaning behind “Tequila – helping women
lower their standards for years”. Yes, another
valuable lesson learned.
knowing that when the time comes to make my choice
out of the Final Four, I will do so with some
experience under my belt.
else have I learned that I can share with my
reader? I was disappointed
to learn that the
Houston dating and mating climate is not as hot and
heavy as I had expected it to be.
Among the Under 35 crowd there is a pervasive pessimistic attitude that love is too
Given the tendency of
marriage-eligible men to retreat to the safety of
their jobs or jump to the next
best offer anytime a lady gets too close, many
women literally give up for months and years at a
time just to recharge their batteries for the next
crusade. Some women I met have been unhappily
celibate for so long they worry that they have
rusted shut. Working late or working out, there is
an entire army of women sublimating like crazy.
later this summer I have
six weddings to attend listed on my calendar.
That is all the proof
to conclude that despite all the fears and
all the social upheavals, men and women have been
connecting for eons… and continue to do so even
while our world is changing so fast.
Men and women need each
other too much.
Chapter Fourteen - Strategies for Finding the Right
Delores liked my article.
She said I touched on a surprising number of hot
topics with insight. However could I do her
one more favor?
Given my recent experience, would I mind writing a
short cookbook with some practical recipes for meeting men?
I smiled and said it would be
my pleasure. My first suggestion would be to develop
a Starting Point, but don't limit yourself to just one.
Choose several and be willing to add and delete your choices
after you explore a bit. Don't rest until you
find one or two Starting Points you are confident
have a chance to pay off.
While selecting a Starting Point,
pick a couple of
activities you would
enjoy pursuing that also
carry the potential for
meeting men. It can be something like jogging. If
so, I would say find
a jogging group and join it. Or find an
organization that you are
interested in and volunteer. One good example would
be the Houston Rodeo. Get on a committee and help
plan something. You will
instantly meet more businessmen than
you can ever imagine,
but they will wear a disguise. If
you see men wearing jeans instead of a business suit, don't let
that fool you.
I would suggest that
within these locations you choose
to pursue your interests and activities,
develop friends, both male and
female and not necessarily potential boyfriends.
This network of friends – both women and men
- will pay off in ways you might
not expect. As you get accepted at your chosen
location, your new friends might just lead you to
various networks and inner circles that are
opinion, too many people believe in the power of
Serendipity. They think some random meeting at the
zoo or the grocery store will magically pay off with
the love of their life. Maybe so, but the odds
aren’t very good. It is difficult to bridge the
social barriers you will come up against in these
opinion, the Serendipity approach is like trying to
hit the Lottery. The math is simply not in your
favor. This quick fix
strategy involves clever pickup
lines that have little chance of success
- especially women - are
inherently afraid of strangers who come on too
strong or show too much interest.
Thanks to my
experience, I no longer believe in
trusting luck or 'Fate'. Very few women I spoke to found their
men through accidental meetings in unexpected places like sitting
next to some cute guy at a movie. The meetings themselves
might have been unexpected, but the women pointed out they were in
that place to begin with because they chose that spot in advance.
my favorite stories involved a lady named Vickie who volunteered to
work for free at a friend's booth at the Texas Renaissance Festival.
She said there are parties galore at the closing of each day.
Vickie said she would come in the afternoon, give her friend a
break, then stay to experience the crazy world that comes alive
after the public goes home. At one of these parties, Vickie
met the man who would become her husband. In other words, it
was a chance meeting, but at a deliberately chosen spot.
Yes, I was
irritated in the beginning that women
can't just sit there and be pursued like we want to be, but I got over it. If I were to
do this all over again, I would develop a long-term strategy
based on linking my interests to
three or four recurring
It is all based on finding a Starting Point, so don't limit
yourself to one spot.
A "location" is defined as a place
where you like to play. If you like books, then the
book club you settle on becomes your location. We
assume, of course, that you have scouted this club and have
noticed at least a couple of interesting men, hopefully even more.
Now you make a firm commitment to attend these meetings
frequently enough to make friends. Hopefully current
members will take you under their wing and introduce you to
other possibilities that were not previously on your radar.
Give it at least a month, but don't be afraid to move on if
the prospects seem dim.
If you volunteer to work for
the Texas Renaissance
Festival, let me know and I will
join you. I would love to work one season at the
While it is true that many women find
their soul mate in the most unexpected places, I don't
believe in sitting around waiting for Destiny to happen.
I would definitely investigate every one of the
traditional places to find men.
Here is a list of the tried and true
places people have used since the beginning of time.
What you need to keep in mind is that these are only
Once you get established, then a
random encounter might take you in an entirely different
direction. But you have start somewhere!
1) Your Interests.
Find some place where you can learn to cook or dance
or learn public speaking. Find a book club, a coed
softball league, a running club, or a sailing club.
2) Seminars. Every professional meeting
that involves other people in your field is a prime
opportunity to meet a wide cross-section of
individuals who have something in common with you.
3) Work. Yes, we all know that dating
someone at your place of work carries great risk,
but if you have developed a friendship where you
work that carries the potential for a real romance,
then think it over. Before you accept that offer of
a date, remember that workplace romances may not pan
out. If so, before you make your move, ask yourself
what's harder to find, a good man or a good job?
4) Friends. One of the
things I learned during the Quest that I did not
know previously is that a good friend has the
ability to introduce you into large circles or
networks of people you previously had no knowledge
of. For example, they can invite you to parties or
gatherings you would have never known about
otherwise. Let me add that a good friend is
also important when your spirits lag during
your own personal Quest. A couple
times I nearly went off the deep end only to be
rescued by my girlfriends.
5) Parties. Like seminars, parties carry a
much higher chance of a useful random meeting than
say trying to approach an
attractive stranger at a
doughnut shop because people are naturally
more receptive to meeting new people.
you get established in a circle of friends, throw a
party of your own. Ask
everyone to invite someone new.
The Hostess always has the advantage.
6) Church. Church socials and church
singles organizations are very productive places to
look. If you are cynical, try different religions
on a rotating basis. When you discover the best
religion for meeting men, be sure
to say a thank you prayer, then settle down
and begin to make friends.
7) School. Night school has some potential,
but what I mean here is
adult education classes. Whether
you sign up for a Spanish class, a film
appreciation class, a kayak class,
or a photography class,
you are sure to meet new people. If you stick to
things you are interested in, even if you don’t find
any prospects, you will still find the time well
spent. Using the art of the
innocent question, be sure to talk to everyone about
other classes they like. You never know where
that will lead you.
8) Volunteer. One woman I met said she
found a legion of eligible men by volunteering to
help organize events for the Houston Livestock and
Rodeo. Another woman volunteered to help with fund
raising at United Way and met her future husband.
9) Bars. Clubs
and Bars are generally a mixed bag.
Definitely not a place for the faint of heart. Let
me warn you a lot of angry people hang out in bars.
Furthermore, in my conversations, I gather
more women have gotten their hearts broken by men
they met at bars than all the other environments
combined. At the same time, several women told me
they met their husbands in a bar. If nothing else,
except for the wolves who take their rings off
before entering, at least most of the men are
One suggestion – if you are going to hang out in
bars, do four things. First, develop the ability to
make conversations with total strangers. Second,
learn to dance. Third, learn how to handle
rejection without losing your confidence. Fourth,
stick to the same one or two clubs so you can begin
to make a circle of friends. If you go to different
clubs all the time, you will be always be a stranger.
But if you pick one you like, you can become
a regular. People will greet you and begin to let
down their guard. Think “Cheers”.
10) Exercise class.
Few women ever get a man by being out of shape. Yes,
it is true that few men take exercise classes.
However, aerobics classes are awesome places to make
girl friends who can introduce you to new circles.
If you are good at starting conversations with
strangers, then a health club or gym will put you in
more contact with men. Side note - if you like going
to bars, don't forget that bars favor the beautiful.
If you are out of shape, avoid clubs like the plague
until you get in shape. If you have a thin skin, the
rampant hostility in clubs will eat you alive.
11) Dancing. No
clean-cut activity known to man puts you in the arms
of a man faster than a dance class. Dance classes
are also a very simple way to make friends
over a period of time. Few
people have the ability to learn to dance overnight,
so you will have built-in opportunities to make
friends of both sexes in a relaxed setting.
Plus a dance class carries the opportunity to visit
bars in groups which is much safer.
12) Sports. Men love sports the way women
love dancing. If a gal has an ounce of athletic
ability, I say join a coed
volleyball league, a running club, or a coed
softball league. You will find
men galore. And for you guys who are
cheating by reading my article, read my suggestions
in reverse… join a dance class or join an aerobics
exercise class. These two activities are very
popular with women. You won’t regret it.
13) Apartment projects that cater to singles.
Do some research. If you find an
apartment project that has
a social schedule… pool parties, Sunday afternoon
volleyball, dance parties in the recreation
room, bingo night, wine tasting night, and organized
group trips to a nearby club… you might be on to
Bridging the Gap
Few things in
the Quest are more terrifying than approaching strangers.
Most people are so afraid of rejection that they remain
rooted to their seat even though they know full well this
may be their only chance. Women in particular are
phobic because they have so little experience, but I learned
that many men are just as reluctant to risk rejection.
that practice makes perfect. When it came to making
phone calls and talking to strangers in the beginning, I had
one case of cold feet after another. A few of the
early rejections really got under my skin. However, by
the end of my two month of interviews, I realized I could
approach anyone and strike up a conversation.
Number One is to study a person's signals.
Have the two of you made eye contact? Has the
person smiled? Do they look tense or do they
seem at ease? Are they talking to someone or
are they free for you to make your move?
to have a modus operandi. I had the advantage
of saying, "I am writing an article. Can I ask
you a few questions?" However, if I had that
luxury taken away, I would simply fall back on the
approach of the Master, our friend Miguel. He
started every conversation based on the one single
thing that connected his customer to him - the food.
If the initial conversation produced a smile, he
then moved to "Where are you from?" and played off
the response to that simple question.
Therefore I say the best approach is to keep it
simple. Initiate a conversation with a comment
or better yet a question based on the reason why
the two of you are in this same spot together right
now. If the person helps a little, then be
sure to have your second question ready. If
the person doesn't help, then bounce off and move
on. You can always try coming back to them
conversation has been warm, be sure to conclude with
a request for a phone number or, if you are feeling
particularly bold, a chance to meet again.
"I've enjoyed talking with you. I would like
to do this again sometime. Would you mind if I
called you?" Memorize that. Say it a
thousand times. Then practice smiling while you say
say yes, then great. Good for you. If they say no,
take it in stride. Don't immediately assume there is
something wrong with you. They may be in a committed
relationship. They may live in another state.
They may be gay. What difference does it make
what the reason is? You did the best you
could, so bounce off and move on.
immediately begin the self-criticism. "I'm ugly. I'm fat.
I'm too nervous. I'm boring." Just stop the self-criticism.
Stop it now!
Every person in
sales learns to practice their approach and not to use too
much pressure. Just be friendly, do the best you can
and vow to yourself you will try again if it doesn't work
the first time. Approaching strangers is never going
to be a sure thing. Remember that even the best
hitters in baseball rarely average better than .333.
And what's their attitude when they strike out? Keep
swinging. Rejection is part of the game. Get used to
it and you will find the sting diminishes dramatically with
Once you aren't
afraid of the sting anymore, it gets a lot easier.
Once the fear in your voice disappears and you begin to
relax, you might just surprise yourself one day and hit a
The Butterfly Philosophy
I firmly believe
in the long term approach. This means developing a strategy
and sticking to it. Most important is picking the right
locations based on their potential for meeting single men.
I call it the “Butterfly Garden” approach.
No one can force
another person to be attracted to them. Attraction is like
a butterfly – very pretty and very elusive.
You may be attracted to a butterfly, but
you have no control over the situation. I say the
smart approach is not to pin all your hopes on one
butterfly, but rather find a spot where lots of butterflies
appear on a regular basis.
Assuming you get my drift, I
suggest you put yourself in
situations where there is a good potential for meeting men
and just relax. Once you have found your
particular butterfly garden, get involved. Water
the plants and pick the weeds.
Plant some flowers and bring
cookies for the butterflies to munch on. Help make the
garden a friendly place.
It is all based on the odds. The
more butterflies you come in contact with, the better the
chances that one day a
will come sit
and sit on your shoulder.