You have signed up on several large dating sites and posted a great profile.
So far, you've had some nice responses, but these haven't led to a meeting yet.
Someone told you about a singles group at your church and there is an organization in your city for singles who want to volunteer, and hopefully meet other like-minded people.
You've lost count of all the parties, happy hours and clubs you've been to, hoping to meet compatible singles.
It's a lot of effort just to be in the right place at the right time with the right people.
Or is it?
In towns and cities everywhere there are single people (likeyourself) going about their daily lives. Schedules consist oflong hours at work and/ or school, commuting, appointments,errands, leisure time pursuits/activities and everything elsethat is part of the fabric of one's existence.
In the course of a day, the average person encounters many strangers on the street, elevator, store, metro, etc.
Have you ever really thought about the possibility that Mr/Ms Right could be the person behind you in line or across the aisle on the metro?
If not, now is a good time to raise your awareness and broaden your thinking on the subject of how and where you can meet compatible singles.
Armed with some newly acquired skills, your next chance encounter could lead to a first date and more.
The following are areas to start building the expertise that will help you to stand out and get the right kind of attention when an attractive stranger comes into your sights.
* Always be prepared.
You just never know, so you need to makethat extra effort before you rush out of the house. Take a quicklook in the mirror, comb your hair and change those (horrid) oldsweats into a nice pair of jeans.
How you feel about yourself will be projected onto those around you, and really - you do look like your mother in THOSE pants.
* Raise your general awareness of what and who is around you.
Don't walk with you head down, avoiding any eye contact.
Try smiling at people you pass on the street and offer a nice greeting or remark to the folks who wait on you when you shop, do your banking, pick up your clothes at the cleaners, etc.
Take special note of strangers who appear to be single and to have characteristics you seek and surreptitiously check to see if that cute guy/girl is looking your way.
If so, smile and say hello if it feels appropriate to do so.
* Watch your body language.
Along with holding your head up,remember to keep those shoulders back and walk with acomfortable erectness.
Have an "open" posture.
Don't wrap your arms around yourself as you stand or huddle in a corner when waiting/standing in a line. The eyes say it all; so let yours say "friendly."
Communicate to others that you are approachable and let them see that you are interested- if you are. What you don't say speaks volumes.
* Learn to be a good flirt.
Along with body language and communicating interest with your eyes, you will probably need to smile and have a few good lines available.
Rule of thumb - only approach someone who is reciprocating your interest through his or her non-verbal language.
Starting with a question is always a good move.
Make it real, non-threatening and impersonal.
For instance, you are in a sandwich shop grabbing lunch and you are standing in back of a very cute guy.
"Excuse me, have you ever tried the Italian sub here?" "It looks really good, but I hate it when they add too much oil." Safe, easy to answer and very open-ended.
This allows the other person to share their experience with the shop (or lack of) and to add any comments or ask a question of their own.
If they do, respond back with something that offers them the chance to keep talking.
* Become a great conversationalist.
Yes, anyone can master this.
It's about focusing on the other person, deeply listening and offering interesting, upbeat thoughts and topics.
With a stranger, keep it simple. After the first exchange, ask them easy questions about themselves.
Not too personal or probing. "So, if you come here a lot to eat, you must live/work nearby."
"I've been here a few times, but don't think I've seen you before."
Or offer something about yourself. "I'm a vegetarian and this is the best shop for meatless sandwiches that I have found."
You get it - safe, pleasant ways to ask about them, share about you and keep the conversation going.
"On nice days like this I often eat in the park down the street- want to join me?"
* Use common sense and take precautions with any strangers. He's very cute, but so was Ted Bundy.
Never give out your home number, address or any personal information to someone you have just met "on the street."
Most people completely understand and agree with this kind of caution and would not be offended if you explained your need to only give a first name, work phone number or an email address.
If this first meeting leads to an offer to get together again, accept by all means if it feels right.
But plan to meet in a public place until you have more information about them.
Once you have had a few meetings/dates, you can exchange home phone numbers and more personal information.
* Close the deal.
So, you two have been standing in line and talking while your sandwiches were being made. You are very interested and don't want to just say good-bye.
What can you do?
You can reiterate that you eat here a few times a week and tell them that you hope to see them on Wednesday at around noon.
You can pick up on something they might have shared such as their participation on their workplace sponsored softball team. "
My team will be playing on the mall on Sunday at 4, when do you guys play?
"Perhaps we will play opposite each other and can talk after the game."
Of course, there's always the suggestion of eating your sandwiches together at that park down the street...
Joining singles clubs and groups, posting personal ads and/or doing volunteer work are all great ways to try to connect with compatible, available singles.
However, they are not the only way. Many great loves started from chance meetings in the couple's everyday world.
So, get out there, really mingle and open your mind to the possibility that when you go around the next corner you will come fact to face with Mr/Ms Right.
About the Author: Toni Coleman, MSW is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach who has been quoted in many publications including: The Chicago Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel newspapers and FamilyCircle, Woman's Day, and Star magazines. She has been featuredon ABC News; Discovery Health Channel and AOL Online. She is a weekly contributing commentator on the KTRS Radio Morning Show,(St. Louis, MO). Toni founded Consum-mate.com in 2002.