Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mission Impossible?

Summer is over … such a sad sentiment. What other season yields so much social merriment for single scenesters? (now say “Sally sells seashells on the seashore” six times fast …) Weekend calendars filled with pool parties, bonfires at the beach, and cocktails by the water. All of those opportunities rife with the potential to meet that special someone but, for many, their most faithful companion this summer was the aspirin bottle on the nightstand. Now that the Fall is upon us, countless wonderful opportunities will arise with the potential for these lesser-tanned hopefuls to meet that elusive Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Unfortunately, many of these upcoming opportunities will be squandered by those who are the most anxious to meet the love of their lives. We all know them. Guys and girls who go out on the town on a “mission” – not a mission to simply have fun with their friends, or to make new friends, or to do something new and exciting – but a sole mission to meet that person. They primp, they strategize and then head out with a dogged determination that would make secret agent Ethan Hunt proud.

Yet, too many times these focused and fixated singles fail in their mission, returning home date and digit-less. What these secret agents often don’t realize is that the mission they’re on doesn’t necessarily get accomplished in one covert outing. There are many ways to accomplish the goal of meeting someone with whom you could potentially hit it off – just one of them being the direct go out, meet someone that night, talk to him or her, exchange numbers, go on a date and live happily ever after way. Another way is to lay the foundation for the mission and network (uh oh, the dating/job search analogy is resurfacing…).

Let me elaborate. As many of my readers are aware, I throw social events once a month. These events draw a great, sociable crowd and people meet and connect at my parties. On one occasion, however, I observed a woman who determined right away that there weren’t any guys there for her, so she lost interest in the event and the people at it. She exuded negative body language, crossed her arms, and sent out a vibe that made her seem totally unapproachable. Of course, her attitude kept many great guys away and her mindset became a self-fulfilling prophesy. Now, if this woman (let’s call her “Jane”) had gone into the event with the attitude that it was a great way to meet new, interesting people – even make some new girlfriends who might know someone who is perfect for her – there’s no doubt she would have had a totally different experience even if “her guy” wasn’t there.

In fact, if Jane would just focus on having fun and enjoying the conversation of a quality guy when she goes out (even though she isn’t hearing wedding bells in the background), perhaps the guys she’s talking to will think “wow, Jane is a cool girl” and invite Jane to his friend’s party the following week.* Instead, as Jane is looking over his shoulder, completely disengaged, the guy is likely thinking Jane sucks. No invite. Simple as that.

In the past few weeks, I had two fantastic guy friends recount stories to me of women who were so focused on their immediate mission to meet the “One,” that they lost sight of the fact that every outing is an opportunity to meet someone who knows the person you want to know. Both guys were apparently at intimate gatherings where they met women who simply didn’t want to give them the time of day until they heard something about who my guy friends knew that sparked their interest. In one instance, my friend was ignored for most of the night by a particular girl who was clearly on a mission to meet a nice Jewish boy (no one is thinking my pal is a member of the tribe) until he made it clear through conversation that he had ample single Jewish guy friends. By the time she started to acknowledge his presence, it was too late – he wouldn’t set up a friend with her no matter how hot she was. Then there was my friend (who has ample attractive, successful single guy friends from business school) who told me he was universally ignored at a Hamptons party full of socialites until it came up in conversation that he was very close with a much desired guy friend of theirs who went to Princeton (where he also went). From thereon in he had all the attention he could want from the future ladies who lunch club – but by that point their true colors were out and there was no way he was remaining pen pals with this group.**

It’s clear that everyone in this wonderful city we call the Big Apple knows someone who is single who would prefer not to be. So, maybe the guy or girl you’re chatting with is someone who doesn’t come close to meeting your criteria for a long term (or short term) relationship, but he or she may very well know your Prince or Princess Charming. Of course, if you blow this person off with a perfunctory nod and an immediate trip to the bar, you’ll never find out …

* This approach also applies in the one on one dating context. Indeed, there have been instances where I’ve set people up and they have come back to me and explained that, though they didn’t feel any chemistry on the date, they would love to set up the other person with a friend/cousin/ etc. because the other person was just that fantastic. Even if you show up on a date that doesn’t yield fireworks it can be the sparkplug that results in a Kaboom with someone else. Why not be nice and engaging even if you’re not interested? It’s really common sense.

**Naturally, it’s my view that people should be kind and friendly because, after all, it’s a good way to be (and it’s sexy too).


  1. I couldn't agree more! It's odd how people get this Networking 101 principle all wrong. These closed-off people then gripe about how they're unlucky and can't find the right person when just by being a more open person they might find the best friend of: "that special person," a new client, a hiring manager or a guy who is selling a pair of tickets to the US Open finals for face value!

  2. I could not agree more. The overwhelming majority of women I have dated have been the friend of female friends of mine, or a friend of the girlfriend of one of my male friends. It seems to be a natural "and more productive" way to meet someone -- to be "referred" to someone by a person that knows both you and the other person well - as oppossed to hitting the bars with fingers crossed.

    Marni, your blog also reminds me of going out a few years ago on the very last night of the summer down in Spring Lake on the Jersey Shore. I picked up a female friend from her parents' home (who lived in this great house right on the shore) and remember that as we left for the bars her Dad grinned a big smile and wished us good luck at "The Last Chance Dance."

  3. Thanks for the comments, they both made me laugh! It's a simple point being made, but it seems to be lost on so many people!

  4. Marni, I became a fan and a regular reader quite some time ago, and you never disappoint. Another solid blog post explaining something that is truly "a simple point" and yes, so many don't get it.

    I myself have an event to go next week. The only reason I'm going is because of my buddies was himself invited by the birthday girl. And he and I only became friends this year, and we've become close; but, had I not been open to him when we met, we wouldn't have become good friends - and I wouldn't be going to this party.

    By the way, the birthday girl (whom he's been dating; it's in the early stages) is going to invite all of her girlfriends. Need I say more? ;)

    - Ex-Syosset Brave, Class of '91

  5. Dear Ex-Syosset Brave - I am so glad that you enjoy the blog and I truly appreciate the time you take to post your comments (which are always very good, by the way). Please keep them coming!

    And as you wrote, I am working on another blog (a little more of a serious issue being explored), so stay tuned!

    (and have fun at the party!)