My friend Marla used to believe that meeting a man was as easy as following her bliss. After she and her long-term boyfriend broke up, Marla decided to pursue the interests she had neglected when she was in a relationship. She took acting lessons, joined a book club, and became devoted to yoga.
The result: She met tons of smart, funny and fascinating... women. "Don't get me wrong," says Marla. "I'm really glad I did all of that stuff. I made some wonderful friends and expanded my horizons. My new pursuits nourished my soul, but I have to say they did zip for my love life."
Marla realized that if she wanted to start dating again, she'd have to think a bit more strategically. Because contrary to popular opinion, men are out there. "Here's a little-known fact: One out of every two people is a guy!" says an exasperated 32-year-old Newark, New Jersey, panelist for Answerology.com, a Web site that aims to bridge the communication gulf between the sexes. With the help of Answerology creator Matt Milner, we've asked men from around the country to tell us where the heck they are—and the easiest ways to meet them!
BEST PLACES TO LOOK
1. Comedy Classes. Acting classes are filled with gorgeous nymphets and men who make great shopping buddies. Your average stand-up class, on the other hand, is a festival of testosterone. True, comedians have a tendency to be emotionally needy and self-centered. But if he makes you laugh, you may be willing to put up with the occasional bout of insecurity. And breaking the ice is easy: A simple "Your routine was hilarious" (preceded, of course, by hearty laughter) should do the trick.
2. Baseball Diamonds. Even if you know nothing about the game, you can still enjoy sitting outside on a summer night with a bag of peanuts and a hot dog. The beer line should be packed with fans; so get behind a cute one and ask him about his favorite team, advises a 39-year-old from Vancouver. Better yet, join a softball league -- you're sure to find a wide array of physically fit boys of summer.
3. Music Clubs. Next Saturday night take a bunch of your girlfriends to a nightclub that hosts local bands. You'll find them right up on stage: clusters of men, pouring their hearts out, trying to impress you. But don't get too seduced by musical talent. Tortured artists are dazzling on stage, but can be a drag in real life. On the other hand, a nice middle manager (during the day) indulging in some innocent rock-star fantasies (by night) could be just the ticket. The big drawback of music clubs, of course, is that the noise level can make it hard to hold a conversation. But if you say, "Hey, fantastic set!" he'll hear you.
4. Business Conferences. If you've been meaning to do some meet-and-greets as a way of boosting your career, here's some added incentive: Business conferences and seminars are filled with smart, ambitious men with whom you can talk shop. "Strike up a conversation around your mutual business interests, then ask 'How did you get to where you are today?' You'll learn about his path of life so far, including education and goals," says Nina Atwood, author of Be Your Own Dating Service: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Maintaining Healthy Relationships (Henry Holt, 1996). Just be sure to check his left hand for a ring or tell-tale tan line. "Business events often include a certain number of men who are looking for an extra-marital fling," says Atwood.
5. Blood Drives. While the Red Cross does not release statistical data on the male/female ratio of blood donors, any guy who would give up his own body fluids to help out a stranger has got to be a quality date. And even if you don't meet an altruistic hottie, you've helped save a life. Striking up a conversation is easy. After you've made your deposit, hang out by the snack table and ask a light-headed cutie whether he recommends Oreos or Cheese-Its as his strength-builder of choice. From there, you might both decide that dinner is the best option.
6. Science-Fiction Conventions. You'll find a slightly geeky crowd here, but that's OK. Guys who weren't popular in high school make excellent boyfriends. After the braces come off and the acne clears up, you're left with a smart, nice-looking man who on some level will always feel extremely grateful to have a girlfriend. Plus, they're handy when your computer crashes. So, read a couple of good science-fiction books -- or just rent The Lord of the Rings. Then ask a late-bloomer about his favorite Phillip K. Dick novel, and he'll take it from there.
7. Regular-Guy Bars. Don't go to that super-trendy night spot filled with icy women in towering heels and snarky men in shiny shirts. If you want to find a nice, laid-back guy, go to a bar that has sawdust on the floor and bowling trophies on the walls. Sports bars are particularly good because 98 percent of the clientele will have a Y chromosome. Also, the game playing on the bar's many TVs provides a natural conversation-starter. Your neighborhood tavern is also a good bet. Find one that has games -- pool, darts, foosball -- and then challenge a flannel-shirted cutie.
Check out our relationship panel's advice on picking up someone at a bar:
8. Car Shows. Sure, you'd rather see the new Matisse exhibit; just squint your eyes and pretend it's abstract art. Guys who are really into cars tend to be very capable and good with their hands, even if they sometimes provide you with more information about your Jetta's carburetor than you really need. You don't have to exhibit any particular knowledge of cars, says a frequent visitor to such shows. "Just say 'Hey, nice car!' As long as you're talking, that's good enough," he says.
9. The Internet. Online dating used to be for computer nerds and agoraphobics, but times have changed. There are now millions of nice, normal guys a mere click away. "It's becoming one of the best ways to meet people, as it allows you to sift through large numbers of people while sitting in your own home," says author Atwood. Of course, one does have to read the ads with a skeptical eye -- the veteran online dater understands that words like "tall" and "fit" are pretty subjective. But as a woman, the odds are in your favor when you use Internet dating -- Match.com, one of the nation's largest online dating services, reports that 62 percent of its members are men.
Check out our panel's advice for writing the perfect online profile:
10. Your Own Home. Throwing parties is one of the best ways to get yourself into the dating scene. Even if you don't meet an eligible bachelor at your own shindig, becoming the hostess with the mostest will naturally get you reciprocally invited to barbecues, wine-tastings, poetry readings, etc. And if a friend does bring along a handsome stranger to your next house party, you have ample reasons to chat him up. After all, he'll need you to take his coat, fetch him a drink, and tell you where he's been all your life.