By Mark A. Leon
My years of successful and unsuccessful dating has embedded a sense of wisdom that has taught me a number of things including how places, patterns of behavior, ideals, morals, personal convictions and personal interests can all be identified by choices in places resided. I am fortunate to have a wonderful, caring, compassionate and beautiful woman in my life, but there are still some even in this holiday season that are looking for someone special to create and share memories with.
To begin, we can eliminate Church’s Chicken, Pizza Hut, Wal-Mart, prison, rehabilitation centers (maybe not entirely), mud wrestling tournaments and race tracks as possible options for meeting your next partner.
Understanding the culture of an establishment will help you make an educated assessment on the type of person who chooses to be there. The choices in nutrition, entertainment or exercise are lifestyle choices so that needs to be a critical element in your decision to seek out a potential mate.
This list is not compiled through a statistical study and thus there is no formal ranking system outlined below.
Now it is time to put the app down for a while and communicate the old fashioned way, through genuine human interaction. Still the best way to find love.
Best Places to Meet Quality Women and Men in the Lowcountry
Lowe’s / Home Depot (Home Improvement Centers)
We have evolved into a society who has made tremendous strides in gender equality. The strength of an independent woman who can create, fix and enhance their residence is a very attractive quality that should never be overlooked. If you visit your local Home Depot or Lowe’s you will find amazing women who are looking to do home improvement, building, painting, construction or aesthetic enhancements to the home. If you are a strong willed man that values a woman who can go toe to toe with you; one that knows her way around a power tool; and one that can live a vivacious life of independence and success, this may want to be a regular scheduled stop in your pursuit of the perfect mate. Of course, if she is alone or with other female friends, you need to keep an eye out for the big indicator: the ring. We don’t want to encourage the notion of breaking up marriages. We are a family friendly blog. Women, this strategy holds strongly for you. Men, by nature, love to build, fix and even break things, so we can fix them again. Home improvement centers are a bit of a male adult playground. Feel free to frolic.
Whole Foods / Trader Joe’s / Earth Fare (Organic / Health Based Grocers)
These three grocers and smaller independent markets have built a culture around being environmentally sensitive, organic and health conscious, and promoting mental/physical fitness. You are not going to find many lazy, lethargic or sloppy women or men here. On a given day, you will observe matching running outfits, business professionals or earthly/flowery sundresses. If you want to impress, don’t go in and just buy beer and chips unless it is a good craft micro brew and organic veggie chips. These establishments breed individuals that care about the environment and wellness. So, ladies and gentlemen, if you chose to take on this challenge, bring your own re-usable bags and water bottle, dress neatly, and don’t be afraid to show a little of inner and outer beauty.
Dog lovers are creatures of habit. They love their dogs as if they are children and treat them with the same caring nature. A dog lover can make an excellent mate but make no mistake, you will most likely be number two in their world. The key to being successful at a dog park is to modify the behavior of your target. When you see that special potential someone, schedule your dog park time the same as them and feel each other out for a few days (of course it should be obvious that you have a dog as well). Each day, give your pup a pep talk about flirting with your targets dog. If the dogs work out, you are in like Flynn. If that does not work and the dogs become rival enemies, this will present a whole new set of challenges and often one you cannot overcome. Make sure when you first start talking to each other (humans), be very complimentary about their dog, ask its name, how old, and mention how good the two of them look together. When you tell a mother or father how adorable she is with her child, it is like melting butter on a warm slice of toast. This approach will take patience. It may be a week or two before the idea of an off site puppy date is brought up or better yet a puppy date at his or her place over dinner. If you get that approved, bring some good wine because you have a really good chance with this one.
I hesitated to put beaches on this list. Beaches offer a sand to sand endless pool of possibility. From Folly to IOP, beaches are about sun, fun, flirting and a even a little drinking perhaps. In hindsight, all of this invites more an opportunity for a short term fling than a long term relationship, but if you are a little vain and believe in looks above and beyond everything else, then you may meet that perfect mate. Here is where the hesitation comes into play: focus. Obviously, the women and men will be wearing the bear minimum of clothing and men tend to focus their attention on certain regions. When the chance occurs to strike up a conversation (say after you mistakenly throw the football by a group of girls or lose a flip flop near the boys), the likelihood is that you will not be focused on her eyes or his face. You need to train yourself prior to a beach day if you have any chance of success.
Coffee Shops (Independent preferred)
I am not by any means disrespecting Panera, Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. In fact, I met one of the most amazing women I have ever known in my life at a Caribou Coffee in the mid west. This is targeted for those with a lifestyle around arts, creativity, music and personal/spiritual enlightenment. For all the poets, musicians, painters and true “artists”, the independent coffee shop could be your haven for love. Be specific and do your research. Each establishment has a life of its own and a culture it breeds. Find out what type of music they play, the backgrounds of the owners, the art on the walls and chose wisely. Choosing the right coffee shop is almost as important as the right home.
Intellectuals are stable, intelligent, philosophical, insightful and frisky. When you think about librarians, book sellers, teachers or professors, you think proper. My experience has shown and certainly not true for all is that all that pent up proper behavior has to be released somehow. Believe me, in very adventurous and experimental ways. If you want an intelligent wild cat or a nerdy hispster with a hidden wild boy side, this might be a good place to start your search. If you do, don’t pick a cliche book to read; be original and make it an extension of yourself.
Gym / Fitness Center
If physical fitness is your game, this is an easy choice, but know how to read the signs. Typically working out is either a couple or individual activity. If a girl is by herself know what to look for. If she is wearing a hat, leave her alone. She is driven and has a goal in mind. You interrupting her is not in the plan. Again, look for the ring. That is vital as well. If you spot a girl you would like to know better, follow her routine for a few minutes (cardio, weights, stretching..) and try to find a good place to slip in a casual meeting. In this day of IPods, it can be harder than you think. Adjacent treadmills or bikes is a great starting point. It is an extended activity and gives plenty of time to see if eye contact is made. Remember, girls at the gym want a confident man that is not afraid to step up to bat. For you type A physically fit women or ones focused on a goal, you have a room of testosterone; work it to your advance and take ownership of the situation.
Charleston is becoming a haven for individually owned and operated breweries. These facilities offer unique craft brewing experiences in a casual and trendy way. These settings offer an intimate and casual environment for people that appreciate quality beer, good conversation and local support. Often, these establishments are less crowded than bars and offer bar seating, community tables and outdoor areas. This is the perfect place to avoid the crazy bar scene and hang out with hip and cool people that think like you and enjoy a good local cold brew. Sounds like a good place to meet someone compatible to you.
Yes, bars and clubs are so yesterday and online dating isn’t going away, but do you want an analysis tool to find you love? Tinder…hmmmmm need I say more.
To all the men and women looking for that true connection, good luck. Even with all the tips in the world, we are a tricky bunch, but there are a good number of humans that are genuinely amazing creatures with beauty, intelligence and warmth. If you are lucky enough to find the one that warms your soul and has you yearning for more each and every day, you need to hold on, embrace and cherish it for the rest of your life.