"I'd like to date more, but I'm not sure how and where to start. I have my job, church, and friendships, but how can I expand that network with new people?"
If you want to date more, meeting more people is the best way to start. When I was single, I wanted to meet at least five new people a week for three months. I "released" myself two days a week. It was a job, especially in the beginning, but it gave me some really nice experiences. And much more boldness in addressing people. My big discovery was that most people don't mind talking back at all, they just don't know how to start a conversation.
Recently, a single that I coach told me about her efforts. She was a bit clumsy at first. For example, she walked a boy out of the station to work, but the boy kept going a little faster and did not respond to any question. Instead of quitting, she kept going faster and asked a new question every time ... "Of course I should have stopped, but I thought: you seem nice, so I want to contact you." She probably scared the boy. Or he just wasn't such a morning person.
But she persevered and became more and more adept at it. She had a nice chat with a neighbour who lived two houses away, a church member she met in the supermarket but had never spoken to before, and someone she met at her new running club. The latter led to a date, and then one more and one more ...
Dating as a social experiment
Think of dating as a social experiment. Certainly if you cannot find someone in one go and you have to work on it, you better make real work of it. Try to see it as a challenge to keep getting to know someone else. Change your routines, your habits, your activities. Sit somewhere else in the church, on the train or at work. Don't drop out immediately when you meet someone who is in a relationship. Not all encounters have to end on a date.
A handy rule of thumb for basically everything in life is the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent do what you always do and stay in your comfort zone - nothing wrong with that, that's how people function. And twenty percent going out, doing new things, meeting new people. That's how people develop.
Along with other single friends
For example, leave your phone at home. Yes, everyone else around you will still be staring at their phone, but see if you can still make eye contact with someone. Start a new hobby or sport in a group setting. Sign up to volunteer in your church or hometown. And don't go into this experiment alone. Start a WhatsApp group with other single friends and make it a competition of who is the first to meet someone new that day. Will give you good stories for sure!
Made for connection
I hope that making contact is not an art that we all forget, thanks to our phones and our busy lives. I hope that in 20 years' time my children will still be able to start a conversation with a stranger, without it being scary or complicated. People are made to connect!
Aukelien Van Abbema is a singles and couples counsellor, public speaker, and successful author, including the title Dare to Date.
Helping people with Christian dating, relationships, singleness in church, dating in church, loneliness, connectedness, christian connection, healthy relationships.