07/24/2013 11:36 am ET Updated Sep 23, 2013

Creative Ways to Meet a New Squeeze

Maybe it's the summer doldrums but a number of my friends and clients are lamenting the lack of romance in their lives and expressing frustration over how to meet new people. Bringing up obvious suggestions like online dating or MeetUps elicited too many eye rolls and yawns so I got to thinking what are some creative ways to meet potential partners? I put the question to friends and colleagues and what follows are some of their suggestions.

Borrow a Dog. My friend Daryl began walking his sister's dog when she was sick. He now happily walks the pooch everyday simply because, as he puts it, "Having a dog at my side means I get lots of attention." He says it also makes it easy for him to talk to other pet owners. "Everyone loves it when other people lavish love and admiration on their beloved pet," he says. "It's a great way to show off your capacities for unabashed love and excessive physical affection. And who knows, cooing over and stroking someone's animal might just morph into human foreplay." Of course this could raise the sticky issues of blending pet families. The website, a dating site for people with pets, provides guidelines for taking these next steps to greater and deeper intimacy.

Hang Out on a Political Website. A woman I know in Southern California developed a serious relationship with a man from Hawaii on a political website. "I began by reading the comments closely and picking out people who were smart, articulate and shared a similar view of the world," she said. She then jumped into the conversation. As she put it, "A nicely phrased response can pique someone's interest." It certainly caught her guy's attention. Last year she and her man got married on a beach in Kauai.

Have Afternoon Tea. Some of the men in my survey came up with some novel suggestions focusing on venues mostly frequented by women. Gerry, an engineer friend, recommends going for a formal afternoon tea. He suggested taking along a grandmother or sister along to help start conversations. As he put it, "This makes you appear even more adorable."

Stay at a Health Spa. Another male friend, Rob, suggests heading out to a luxury spa for a few days. "These are mostly female attended places," he explained. "The few men who go there can be assured of meeting many high quality women with minimal competition."

Attend a Relationship Seminar. An old neighbor of mine told me he used to hang out at dating workshops to meet women. Again the audience was heavily female and he said he would always raise his hand and ask a question that revealed what a wonderful sensitive guy he was. He always kept a pocketful of business cards to hand out in the lobby where, as he put it, he "was swarmed".

Learn a New Sport. Gwen, a therapist friend, also recommends putting oneself in locations teeming with the type of person you're looking for. Women looking for men, for example, might take up a sport that draws a lot of men. Gwen took up golf last year and has met lots of new people. She's also healthier and more relaxed. She recommends public golf courses because they're affordable and they often have friendly cafes and bars. Another attorney I know decided she wanted to find a partner with a similar income and lifestyle. She targeted a high end sports club that attracted many doctors and attorneys. She went at it with military precision, showed up several times a week, and became a whiz on the racquetball court. She ended up landing a big beefy orthodontist with whom she now has two children with perfect teeth.

Become a Coffee Shop Regular. There's something about the casualness and randomness of the coffee shop that makes for easy conversations. The trick is to choose carefully to find the right one for you. Near where I work there are three to choose from and each seems to have a different type of customer. The Peet's Coffee Shop on our street tends to draw the most eclectic and edgey people in the neighborhood. The nearby Starbucks seems to be more mainstream and the customers don't interact as much with each other. Our Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is small and cramped and caters mostly to the takeout crowd. My friend Sean started hanging out at our local Peet's when he was getting over a bad breakup and needed to get out of his apartment. He dropped by several days a week and soon became part of the rambling group of regulars who are very open to new people joining in their conversations. In time Sean became part of the gang and was being invited by his new friends to meet other friends at parties and get togethers.

Enjoy Happy Hours. Patrick, a psychologist I know, noted that many good bars and excellent restaurants offer very affordable and fun Happy Hours. "Happy Hours are mostly attended by people after work, often in lively groups," he says. "Work's over, the vittles are good and cheap, and people are in the mood for bantering and flirting."

Sign Up to Volunteer. A dental hygienist, Betty, suggests volunteering as a great way to meet new people. She says this also satisfies her need to do something useful. She recommends researching carefully before taking the plunge. As she put it, "Aim for something with potential." For example, volunteering at Habitat for Humanity or for a local hospital or political campaign, means you not only rub shoulders with lots of interesting people, it can also segue into you being invited to lots of fun parties and fundraisers where you'll meet even more people.

Hang Out at a Swap Meet. This is my personal favorite offered by a friend of mine, Glenda, who met her beau at a Swap Meet. Glenda is a very easygoing open person and loves to buy interesting antique clothes. Her shtick was to find a neat old dress or jacket, try it on, and then ask passing men how it looked. It sounds blatant but she pulled it off with a lot of class and panache. Best of all, it worked for her!

Please share below if you have your own novel ideas on how to meet potential partners. And if you're single and looking, best of luck out there!

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