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A Guide To Dating After College

Your days of flip cup and beer pong are over, and consequently, you have to turn in your all-access pass to tons of gorgeous, intelligent and extremely available men your age. Once you've left campus behind, the Dating scene becomes a lot less like Girls Gone Wild and a lot more like Sex and the City. Guys are no longer inviting you back to their dorms for cuddle sessions on a nightly basis. But, alas, this doesn't mean that you have to live a life devoid of Dating. There are tons of places, and ways, to meet your Prince Charming (without a red cup in his hand!).

1. Work. Okay, it's probably not the best idea to date a co-worker. However, co-workers open up tons of new doors and create lots of potential for new friendships and relationships. That new girl in the office might know a sexy, single guy about your age. The woman in the cubicle next to you could have a hot single son. Or maybe a friendly guy in another department lives with an eligible bachelor. You'll never know unless you ask! Be open to new people and new experiences - you never know where they might lead you (or who they might lead you to).

2. Bars. If college taught you one thing, it's that alcohol is a catalyst for making (and sometimes breaking) relationships. After a martini or two, your self-confidence skyrockets and you have no problem talking to a potential boyfriend (or anyone, for that matter). Just be careful when talking to a new guy for the first time. Bring along a trustworthy girlfriend who will make sure the guy you decide to chat up isn't a total sleazeball (and she can also serve as your designated driver). If sparks fly between you and the bar-guy, get his number and arrange for a more formal first date.

3. Online. You can do everything online - from shoe shopping to grocery shopping to watching movies and T.V. shows - so why not use the internet as a way to find love? Technology has become such a quintessential part of our lives and has made online dating services super popular. The great thing about these sites is that everyone who creates a profile wants to meet someone. That way, you don't have to worry that the cutie you approach will flash you his wedding band or race off to meet his girlfriend. Popular, trusted sites to try are e-Harmony.com, match.com and Yahoo! Personals. However there are sites tailored to certain age demographics and sexual preferences. ChristianCafe.com and JDate.com are two religiously-affiliated matchmaking sites. Most sites will allow you to browse profiles and receive matches for free - so you don't have to commit to paying a fee without viewing your options first.

4. Speed Dating. Speed Dating, originally used as a way for Jewish singles to meet, is a fun, new way for all singles to meet a large amount of new people - fast. At a speed Dating event, you go on a series of "dates". The dates are only a few minutes long - which is just about enough time to gauge whether you are compatible. The organizer of the event will ring a bell or buzzer at the end each "date" and you will move on to the next potential partner. At the end of the event, you choose who you would like to give your contact information to. If there's a match, your info. is exchanged and you could be well on your way to romance. When you join a speed dating event, you can ensure that everyone attending is single and ready to mingle, no strings attached. To join an event in your area, check out sites like 8minutedating.com.

5. Local events. Attending local art shows, community festivals and concerts are awesome ways to meet singles in your area. Call up some girlfriends to accompany you as you scope out the awesome art - and bodies - at your county's art show or fair. Strike up a conversation while you're in line for a burger and fries at the next concert you attend (at least you will know the guy has good taste in tunes!) Better yet, find a band you like and follow them throughout the state or area - you'll be sure to run into a lot of the same faces. Join a local recreational adult sports team that is co-ed, like volleyball. You can find tons of random events to attend by visiting craigslist.org and selecting your city.

6. Join a cause. Passionate about animal rights, the environment or the '08 Presidential election? The perfect way to meet a like-minded gentleman is by getting actively involved in whatever you feel strongly about. Volunteer to help with the Special Olympics or assist with a Habitat for Humanity project. You can also spend your time on some local community service - like picking up trash on the highway or feeding the homeless in your area. There are so many programs available that it's almost impossible for you not to find an organization that suits your interests. Seriously, who wouldn't want a guy that is interested in making the world a better place? Plus, you'll both be feeling so good about contributing to society in a positive way that it will be easy to talk, even though you're complete strangers.

7. Throw yourself a party. Send invitations to everybody in your social circle and encourage them to bring their friends, brothers and room mates. Throwing a party at your humble abode is the perfect way to meet a nice guy. You will obviously have some mutual friends (or at least mutual acquaintances). Not only that, but you will feel uber comfortable talking to a guy who maybe normally would've intimidated you because he will already be in your ultimate comfort zone, your home.

8. Go to the gym. So maybe you hadn't hoped you'd meet your next man while you were sweaty and smelling less-than-lovely. But joining a gym gives you the opportunity to check out tons of hot guys on a regular basis. You'll probably find yourself working out with the same group of people if you pick a workout time and stick with it. You can also take a workout class guys would be interested in (less yoga and more rock climbing). Perhaps you can even find yourself a workout Buddy to accompany you on your daily jog. Better yet, sign up to be an Eco-Runner at www.eco-runner.blogspot.com and help the environment while improve your health And if you don't meet your future hubby? Well, at the very least you can feel good about dropping a few pounds and gaining some super sexy toned thighs.

9. Unusual parties/services. If you're feeling a little frisky, or perhaps just a little adventurous, get involved in some of the latest crazes. Ever though about attending a cuddle party (where all guests attend in their pajamas and engage in non-sexual embraces all night long)? Check out www.cuddleparties.com. Or how giving adrenaline dating a try? Going on an adrenaline date takes the edge off by setting daters up to engage in extreme sports the first time they meet. No matter how crazy it might seem, you'll never know what possibilities exist unless you try!

10. The local coffee shop. Just like the friends on Friends, the coffee shop is the perfect hang out for young Adults. Buy yourself a frappucinno, pick up a copy of the latest New York Times to inform yourself and be sure to say hello to that hot guy who sits by you. If you're lucky, the shop will host cool events like poetry readings, open mic nights and even hippie-esque drum circles that you can get involved in.

11. Improve yourself. The most important aspect of dating someone and falling in love is, obviously, loving yourself first. So do whatever you can to increase your love for yourself and the world around you. Take classes that you've always wanted to (how about a salsa dancing or tango class?). Try something you've always been afraid of like skydiving or bungee jumping, especially if you want to meet a super adventurous, outgoing man. Go to your local book store and buy a few about subjects you are interested in. Not only will you be learning and making yourself a more dynamic, interesting person - there's also the chance that you could meet a cute guy hanging out with a good book, too.

Basically, the key to finding your dream man is to put yourself out in the public eye as much as possible. Engage in new activities and learn new things. The more you know and the more you are involved in, the greater your chances of meeting someone fabulous. Plus, you'll be so busy you will soon find yourself not worrying so much about finding that perfect guy. But hey, if you do find him in the process, he will be an added bonus to the new and improved you.

By Erica Strauss - 23-year -old college student pursuing a B.A. in English.  

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