Ottawa
3 min

Six degrees of being single

Googling towards happiness

Credit: Capital Xtra files

I’m as guilty as the the next person of romanticizing the single life.



In my most oppressively conjoined moments, I’ve imagined being single as an endless feast, a dizzy merry-go-round of scin-tillating conversation and titillating trysts.



Unfortunately, the reality is not quite so rosy.



It’s a small world when you’re single, and in our small city the pickings can seem awfully slim. Walk into any bar in town on a busy night, and there’s a good chance you’ll see someone interesting. There’s also a good chance that someone you know has dated them. Maybe several people.



And if you’re “not into the bar scene” you won’t be exempt from the one consistent fact of queer dating. Although there may be six degrees of separation between any two people in North America, you are lucky if there’s two between you and that hot prospect you met at yoga.



This might not seem like a problem until your ex-ex gets wind of the fact that you have your eye on your friend’s old flame. First, there’s the dangerous possibility that said hottie has already been informed of your more exotic predilections, your dating history, even your intimate geography.



Even worse, your friend might decide to “help” you. It makes one shudder.



So what to do? Well, there’s a reason that internet dating services are one of the biggest moneymakers on the web, next to porn. There are hundreds of sites to choose from, and whether your goal is lifetime companionship or hot and anonymous, you’ll find one that caters to you.



Have an unusual kink? You might be reluctant to reveal it to a sexy stranger on a first date, but it’s much easier to lay it on the line when you hide your identity behind a clever screen name. The chances of finding someone willing to indulge you improve exponentially when everything is out on the table.



Of course, it pays to be careful. We all know that there are bad people out there. They know all about online dating services too. You need to take some basic safety precautions, even if your intention is to stick to one-handed typing and good phone.



The rules for virtual safe sex are simple:



Keep your identity and your address a closely guarded secret.



If you do decide to take it offline, meet in a public place and resist the temptation to move to somewhere more private if things begin to heat up. Anyone worth the effort will understand your caution.



Exchange some verifiable information with your potential paramour. Both of you will feel safer knowing that you are who you say you are. Show each other picture ID, and consider doing a simple background check before revealing any details – especially your address. If travelling, make your own travel and accommodation arrangements.



Trust someone close to you with your plans. It might be a little embarrassing, but it beats becoming the victim of a smooth talker with malicious intentions.



If you’ve ever had a dry spell when finding even one person that is remotely dateable seems like an impossible dream, imagine opening up your e-mail to discover heartfelt messages from dozens of candidates, all of whom meet your dating criteria, and all of whom want to meet you.



Here are some strategies to make sure you get a suitable coterie of companions to choose from:



Know thyself: be honest about who you are (to a point) and what you’re looking for. Then craft a profile that will attract people of like mind.



Cast a wide net: be specific, but try not to eliminate anyone prematurely. What’s the harm in attracting the attention of a chain-smoking Celine Dion fan who drives an 18-wheeler? It’s only e-mail after all.



Be your charming self: take the time to write a really interesting and original profile. Get some help with it – get together with a friend and write one for each other. It’s surprisingly fun.



Use a picture, a good picture. It’ll improve your response by an order of magnitude.



One last piece of advice: be wary of novelty. The latest fad in internet connection is something called a friend network. You may have heard of some of the popular ones like Friendster or Linkedin. The premise is that you invite your friends to join and they do the same. When their friends join, they become part of your extended network too. It’s six degrees of separation in action. A relationship pyramid game.



But before you succumb to the buzz, remember that last blind date your friend arranged with “someone who is just perfect for you – and single!” Avoid amateur matchmakers. It’s time to take matters into your own hands.



Get googling!