Tag Archives: Relationships

Connecting with People in Vancouver

I’ve heard many say that it’s hard to meet people in Vancouver. Newcomers think that locals hang out with their local friends and don’t open up their social circles. Singles go online to meet hook ups, potential dates, or future spouses. People in the same office building exchange polite hellos and smiles without knowing the barest details of each other’s lives. With these habits, how does one break through these barriers to make a new friend in person? Too often it seems people become suspicious when a complete stranger wants to know more than directions to a landmark. Approach someone you don’t know to ask him or her random questions about favourite hobbies and restaurants and you’re likely to get something ranging from a strange look to questioning from police.

People don’t socialize with strangers

Busy people are everywhere. If there is a long lineup at the coffee shop, we take out our smartphones to check our friends’ status on Facebook, text a friend about weekend plans, reach the next level on a game app, or screen work emails while we stand around. There we are, multi-tasking our social and professional lives, considering ourselves efficient in our use of time. I can’t recall when someone turned to a stranger to say something other than, wow, this lineup is long.

We connect with people at events

We open ourselves up to meeting new friends only when we attend an activity or event where socializing is part of the event. For example, at a birthday party, my friend introduces me to her friend who is finally back after six years in Europe and now she’s in the same career as me so she and I should talk. Or, I join a swimming class and one of the ladies lives a block away so we decide to carpool and perhaps have dinner after class since we’re pretty much neighbours.

People have noticed that meeting people through some haphazard coincidence is unlikely. To address this situation, lifestyle coaches and other professionals hold workshops about how to meet people in Vancouver. Yes, they teach you how to do this type of social interaction.

We learn how to connect at workshops

ways-to-meet people
Vancouver event where people learn to connect with others

I think it’s ironic to sit with a table of strangers and open a conversation with, “Hello! You’re having trouble meeting people too? This problem we both have has finally connected us.”

Apparently, people are so afraid about how a stranger would react if you tried talking with them out of the blue that they’re likely to let the moment pass. So even if you think the woman at the table next to yours might be interesting to get to know as a friend, you will keep your thoughts to yourself and not say anything in case she calls you a freak.

For others, it was a lack of social skills that brought them to the workshop. The presenter taught us how to look a stranger in the eye, begin, and maintain a conversation. We had to be taught these things, because apparently it’s a skill we lack.

I spoke with a few people after the workshop finished about why they were there. They wanted to connect with others, network, and learn how they could increase their circle of friends. Most of them were single and trying to avoid meeting potential dates online. Some still believe in organically starting a relationship.

Generally, I found it easy to meet and chat with people at a How to Meet People event. I exchanged phone numbers with some ladies after a quick chat about interests and what activities we could attend together the next time we met.

Some people don’t feel the need to connect

What surprised me were the people who attended the social event and made their escape as soon as the workshop was over. I had so many questions about their purpose in attending that evening.

Did they have to run because they accidentally ate some chili peppers? Or did they simply want something to pass a couple of hours in their day? Were they learning how to connect with people so they could practice the skill on someone else? Most importantly, did they think the people from that evening were not worth connecting to? I guess I’ll never know because I didn’t speak with them.

Finding chances to connect with others

My biggest takeaway from the workshop experience was that only the brave ones are willing to ask a random person if they are enjoying the sunshine, or if they would like to join them at their table and have a chat over coffee. Trying to make friends with the person sitting next to you on the bus seems almost taboo. Perhaps our culture has to change. Perhaps people need to be friendlier. Or maybe making a new friend each day is too ambitious or unnecessary a goal for most of us. What do you think?

How to Find Your Soulmate

The weather has warmed up for summer, and you’re craving a partner for trips and outdoor activities. You could attend a spring singles mixer in the hopes of finding that special someone. I went to such an event, lured by the promise of hundreds of singles in a wide age range.

The place was crowded and the music was booming when I got there. I was handed a number, a paper with questions, and a matchbox that would lead me to my counterpart. As I caught up with my girlfriend, I saw glimpses of men, some strikingly good looking, others more forgettable. So the adventure began, with the goal of finding my special match by the end of the night.

Step 1: Leave Your Comfort Zone

To find my soulmate, I had to be willing to try out new places and activities. If I hadn’t found him yet, there was the possibility that he wasn’t where I normally frequented. Time to change my routine. This night was unusual for me. Having a number stuck on my arm, like I was an item at the auction house was atypical also.

When I walked into the room, I reminded myself to check off all the pointers on that mental list for making myself more noticeable. Look confident. Check. Meet guys with solid eye contact. Check. Smile. Appear as if searching a crowd of singles for right match was a totally normal activity. Check and check.

Step 2: Engage in Conversation

We were given a piece of paper with statements in a grid pattern, like a game of Bingo. The purpose was to approach guys and ask them questions from the paper. For example, I had to find someone who owned a truck. If the guy I spoke to owned a truck, then he would sign his name in that square. When I filled all the squares with names, I could enter my paper in a draw for a prize.

The benefit of this set up is that shyer folk would have a purpose for approaching a complete stranger and speaking with them. The questions could begin a conversation, or, if the conversation fell flat, you had a reason to move on and ask another guy another question from the paper.

The disadvantage of this set up is that more outgoing folk had to ask questions about things that weren’t relevant to my interests. In the spirit of completing the questionnaire, I had to find a guy who liked the colour pink, and another guy who used to wear braces.

I can hold my own in a conversation with a stranger, and I would have preferred the chance to just mingle and ask questions about what I really wanted to know, such as what brought him to this event. Or whether he was there as a wingman for a friend. And if there was one thing he could change about the world, what would it be. The writer in me wanted to feast on these insightful bits of information.

The most important tip for getting to know someone, though, is picking the right venue. The music was blasting into our ears, dampening the atmosphere for mingling. I spent the next few hours yelling at people, or screaming into their ears.

I would rather have gone on a coffee date in a quieter place. If the chemistry is right, no conversation is ever dull.

Step 3: Look for Common Goals and Interests

At the singles mixer, we were each given a match box. When I slid the box open, the word handwritten inside was WEALTH. A guy in the crowd supposedly had the matching word. Someone, maybe, who shared my dream of having a successful side business that would allow for early retirement.

I wondered what he looked like. I dreaded that he would turn out to be a much older man who would converse about politics until I drowned in the words. Or that he would turn out to be the younger man who was ambitiously drinking several bottles of beer at once. A few guys looked at my Wealth box, and said, I wish I had that, and showed me their box with the mismatched word. But all night long, my box’s mate never appeared.

At least I could still dream, and consider it a metaphor for my life – I was still searching for this soulmate who would say the magic words: We share the same dream.

Step 4: Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In

My girlfriend was disappointed in the mixer and returned to her previous belief that she’d met so many guys – none were The One. If he hadn’t appeared in her life by now, he wasn’t going to. There was someone in her life at the moment – they fought a lot – but she thought ┬áhe was okay and she was pushing him to discuss having a common-law relationship. I really hope that she won’t settle.

My soulmate wasn’t at the singles mixer. I laughed, thinking that maybe he’d gone to another event, hoping to meet me there. One of these days, we would cross paths if we continue to do the things that interest us. Just not that day. After I returned home, I placed the matchbox on my kitchen counter. It’s a beacon for The One.