For hundreds of years in some cultures partners met each other when walking down the aisle of their own arranged marriages.
Nowadays, people meet well before marriage and in a variety of venues.
Joseph met Anne during orientation week at college. He was instantly attracted to her, but Anne had a boyfriend back home. They began a sweet friendship in chemistry class and began backpacking on weekends. Anne’s longdistance relationship eventually disintegrated, and her friendship with Joseph started to ignite. They shared a kiss one evening over a campfire and became insatiably inseparable ever since.
Steven met Roman online at OKCupid.com. Steven’s profile said he wanted a man between 30 and 39 who liked cats, sarcasm, snowboarding, bluegrass music and meditation. Roman fit the bill perfectly, and two years later they were married at the top of Vail Mountain, snowboards in hand.
Lorrie met Don, Daniel, Edward, Peter, Sean, Bill, Mark and Jesse at a speed-dating event. She spent eight minutes with each man before being shuttled on to the next. At the end of the evening, she chose Peter, who luckily also chose her. The event coordinators e-mailed the pair each other’s phone number and they dated for the subsequent seven months.
Nat met Erica at a small Shabbat dinner at a friend’s house. They shared the same circle of friends, but had yet to meet each other until their friend Paul set them up. Knowing Nat already came with a sound recommendation, she was open to taking an evening stroll with him after dinner. Seven years later, they are still taking evening strolls.
Sally met Sarah on Facebook. They used to date back in college in the ’70s, but recently found each other again on the popular social media site. Sarah had a work trip to San Francisco, where Sally was living, and the two met up in Chinatown for dinner and drinks. Now, Chinatown is a monthly tradition Sarah flies in for.
Today, more than 10 million singles employ electronic technology to meet, whether by online dating or to find groups and events to meet other singles. The booming industry of online dating has yielded more than 1,400 virtual bars and many a marriage. Partners-to-be can streamline the process of meeting people with shared values and interests by perusing pages upon pages of profiles.
While online dating can save time, many complain that the constant rummaging rules out potential candidates too quickly, not allowing enough time to let the magnets do their magic before impulsively window-shopping to the next profile. As local couples’ therapist Ben Cohen points out, “People can get into a consumer mentality to meet as many people as possible.”
However, those opposed to online dating don’t have to sweat being single. We still meet partners in bars and parties, in classes, at dinners through friends of friends, at the gym, on the Mesa Trail, at in-person speed dating events, through matchmaking services like Just For Lunch, or through Meetup.com, where people find groups and events with like interests.
And then there are those who don’t have to sweat being single because they prefer the solo lifestyle. The Quirkyalone movement, started by Sasha Cagen, highlights those who prefer to be single rather than settle.
Cagen states, “Quirkyalone (or choosing to stay single) isn’t so much about being alone as it is about connection: with yourself and others. … It’s about developing comfort with aloneness and recognizing that comfort is crucial to being with someone else.”
These people enjoy being single, but are open to relationships with the right person. But whether we date the right person, or the right person for now, meeting a future partner can be an art. Some hunt in the wilderness, some prefer to shop in the meat market at the kosher deli, and some prefer to sit down at Southern Sun for a delectable veggie burger. What kind of meat or where you shop does not matter. If you meet the right person, the meal never gets old.
Joseph still sings Jack Johnson songs to Anne 10 years later.
“Do you remember when we first met? I was crazy about you then, and now the craziest thing of all is over 10 years have gone by and you’re still mine.”
Ultimately, it’s about the connections we create.
Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist. She runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www. theintimacyinstitute.org