Tuesday, February 23, 2010

guest blog: How easy is it to date in cincinnati?

If you asked people what their #1 complaint about Cincinnati is, most people would say “everybody hangs out with people they went to high school with”. If they’re single, their #2 complaint likely is “it’s so much harder to date here than it is in other cities”.

Having talked with friends in many other cities, I can tell you that they say the same thing about their hometown too. Dating in general isn’t easy in 2010. We’re working more hours, living further from the city, spending more time conversing and relating with our friends on Facebook and Twitter…it gets very easy to keep hanging out with the same group of people, going to the same bars and hangout spots, and next thing you know it’s been weeks or months since you’ve met anyone new and interesting.

The good news is that, if you’re willing to venture outside your comfort zone, there are plenty of places you can go (other than cincinnati imports, but you’re already coming to those events anyways) or things you can do in town to meet people who share some of the same interests that you do, and might be able to introduce you to a few new experiences along the way.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

Support the arts – When someone mentions the local arts, your first thought is probably of shows at the Aronoff Center or Taft Theatre. But there’s a lot more going on than just Broadway productions and big-name performers in town. The Contemporary Arts Center is always hosting unique exhibits in their facility. If you’re into alternative or smaller plays and productions, the Know Theatre has a schedule packed full of them. Fringe Fest is coming up in May, which gives you the opportunity to see over 20 plays and art exhibits for a low price. Cincinnati also has a great opera and symphony if you’re interested in those as well.

Get political –Political campaigns tend to be staffed by young, single workers, and run on a limited budget, so they can always use free and competent labor. You may get asked to do a lot of grunt work and tasks you’re not totally comfortable with, but you’ll have the security of knowing that anyone you meet there already holds the same political beliefs that you do. Plus the work hours usually run pretty long, so if you’ve already got a ready-made group of people to go have a drink with. If you want to find a candidate to work for, check with the Hamilton County Democratic or Republican Party, or Tea Party, websites. Or if none of the candidates appeal to you, there are plenty of other groups to get involved with, like the Young Democrats and Republicans, Drinking Liberally, and the Southwest Ohio Libertarians.

Go online – If you think online dating is only for desperate people, think again. Online dating doesn’t have the kind of stigma that it used to. If you don’t believe me, find ten of your friends that have been single in the last five years, and ask them if they’ve tried an online dating service – at least eight of them will say they have, even if they might only tell you in private. It doesn’t take too much work, other than writing an appealing summary of yourself and posting a couple flattering photos, to meet doctors, lawyers, teachers, and all sorts of interesting local people. Services like Yahoo, Match, and eHarmony all have a large pool of locals to meet.

Live a dog’s life – If you already have a dog, and you’re not taking him/her to a dog park regularly, you’re depriving yourself of a great opportunity to meet some new people (and your dog would appreciate the chance to play with other four-legged friends as well). You know you’re going to meet someone that’s compassionate towards animals and is committed to caring for them, and both of those are plusses. Cincinnati Magazine recently published an article about all of the dog parks in town, and what to look for in each one. A word of caution for those looking to get a dog strictly to meet someone of the same or opposite sex: dogs are serious business, so take the time to know what you’re getting into before you take the plunge and get a puppy or rescue dog.

Volunteer – By volunteering, you not only meet new people, but you’re also performing a service for the community. You can find organizations associated with the city, your church, or any number of organizations. A comprehensive list would be way too long to include, but organizations like Give Back Cincinnati, Habitat for Humanity, and United Way are great places to start.

Get with the band – Sure, you’re not going to meet many people – at least in any meaningful way – at a Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga concert (and whether you’d want to is a completely different discussion). You’re far more likely to enjoy seeing a more eclectic band, like Jake Speed and The Freddies or You, You’re Awesome, at a bar like Northside Tavern or The Comet. Or if a national act like Ani Difranco, Carbon Leaf, or She Wants Revenge is more your thing, the 20th Century Theatre, Southgate House, and the Madison Theatre (ok, the last two are in northern Kentucky, but still…) are great places to see them. They have bar areas where you can congregate before and after the show. Also, the 20th Century is available to rent for weddings, so if you do meet the perfect person there, you’ve already found the perfect place to exchange vows. City Beat and Zipscene both have up-to-date schedules of what’s going on at all of these, as well as many other live music venues in town.

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, but it should give you some ideas on where to get started; only you can know what’s 100% right for you.

No matter what route (or routes) you decide to take, make sure you go into it with the idea that you just want to meet some new and fun people to hang out with. You’ll enjoy yourself more, and you’ll appear more accessible for other people to want to get to know you. Even if you don’t meet that special someone right away, you’ll make some new friends. And you never know when one of them has a cute friend they’d like to introduce you to.

**A big thanks to this anonymous guest blogger for his/her perspective**


redrabbit said...

I like this post, particularly because it says things other than the "go to a bar" that I kept hearing when I was single.

For what it's worth, Dan and I found one another online-- but through Twitter, not a dating site!

Dr. Alex said...

The "go to a bar" idea has been the worlds worse advice to people in our generation and culture.

I would just like to add that you shouldn't forget about church/other religious organizations as an opportunity for meeting like mined and engaged people in your community.


Also, I can't stress the importance of volunteering to meet new friends and potentials. Even eHarmony agrees with me in that "few things make you more interesting—and impressive—than dedicating yourself to a worthwhile cause."


Then again... there are always other ways to hook the ladies.