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Online dating, singles events, and matchmaking services like speed dating are enjoyable for some people, but for others they can feel more like high-pressure job interviews. And whatever dating experts might tell you, there is a big difference between finding the right career and finding lasting love.

Instead of scouring dating sites or hanging out in pick-up bars, think of your time as a single person as a great opportunity to expand your social circle and participate in new events. Make having fun your focus. By pursuing activities you enjoy and putting yourself in new environments, you’ll meet new people who share similar interests and values. Even if you don’t find someone special, you will still have enjoyed yourself and maybe forged new friendships as well.

Tips for finding fun activities and like-minded people:

  • Volunteer for a favorite charity, animal shelter, or political campaign. Or even try a volunteer vacation (for details see Resources section below).
  • Take an extension course at a local college or university.
  • Sign up for dance, cooking, or art classes.
  • Join a running club, hiking group, cycling group, or sports team.
  • Join a theater group, film group, or attend a panel discussion at a museum.
  • Find a local book group or photography club.
  • Attend local food and wine tasting events or art gallery openings.
  • Be creative: Write a list of activities available in your area and, with your eyes closed, randomly put a pin in one, even if it’s something you would never normally consider. How about pole dancing, origami, or lawn bowling? Getting out of your comfort zone can be rewarding in itself.