Ms. Communicate: How to meet single progressives

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Editor's Note: This column is the second of a two-part investigation on dating for progressives. Read the first part here.

1. Online

Yes, many cool lefties are meeting online. It's not just for "losers" anymore. My own past few significant relationships of two years or longer in duration (as well as other less-significant relationships) were all from various online dating sites. The easy part is that you can already know a bit about the person beforehand, and have a sense of areas in which you will find common ground, if they answered the questions on favourite music genre and movies, etc.

I've heard that there are some people who go on dating sites who are not actually single and/or available, and there are a few tricks to ferret out such a*holes, I mean people. Obvious ones include getting a landline number rather than a cell number, when it seems appropriate for such numbers to be exchanged; rotating where sleepovers take place, if you're into that; and others.

The one main disadvantage to this method is you need to develop a highly honed screening process, but keep in mind -- do you want to date, get serious, see how you connect with each person? Having a clear idea of what you're looking for is helpful. Fun times or a summer fling? Well, maybe the person doesn't have to have read the complete works of Saul Alinsky. I recommend coffee or drinks for a first date. Why? Because both time and funds are limited for a coffee or a drink. For a first meet, I personally am not necessarily ready for the one hour plus that is involved with sitting down to lunch or dinner. I'm also usually nervous on a first date, and eating rarely goes well with nervousness.

2. Through a friend

The myth goes that if your friend (or a friend of theirs) knows Person A, then A at least "isn't an axe-murderer." I've always pondered this assumption, given that there are many people out there who would be very bad dates/ flings/ partners/ boyfriends/ girlfriends (question: do we still use the terms boyfriend and girlfriend when we're over 35?) who probably have lots of friends.

The good part though is that you have access to a lot of information both before the date and as the relationship progresses, if your mutual friend doesn't mind being the go-between, not unlike the role formerly played during high school by your best friends.

"Does A like me?" "What did A think of me?" "What did A tell you about me?"

This can lead to more juvenile behaviour, but when dating those are the risks that we take. Are you in or out?

The negative part of dating someone who your friend recommended is when it doesn't work out. Please don't take me as a cynic for saying "when" rather than "if," but the truth is more relationships fail than do not. Dan Savage, sex advice columnist extraordinaire, said "All relationships fail, until you find the one that doesn't."

So... when it doesn't work out, you will be in an odd situation. If it's an instant "non-connection" you might have a difficult conversation with your friend "I can't believe you thought I would like a doofus like A." If it lasts for a bit before ending, there will be the inevitable return to the high school drama of "What did A say happened? Did A tell you that A said the most ridiculous thing?" And on and on.

See, this is why our coupled friends won't fix us up anymore.

3. Through work/paid employment

Three words: don't do it.

And when you do it, don't come crying to me. While I have heard of a few success stories of people meeting at work and engaging in either ongoing relationships, or non-horrible breakups, they are very scattered. Dating from this pool is not for the intermediate-level lefty single. I'm just saying.

4. Through political organizing/activist groups

This is almost as fraught as meeting someone through a friend, just less personal.

The good points are that the politics are already known, and good and solid. Or maybe it becomes foreplay to debate the merits of anarchist tactics versus pacifist methodology. Whatever floats your boat, people!

But, since there is a life outside of politics, there may be other, equally significant areas of life in which there is no compatibility. Style, personality, messiness, the great minimalist/maximalist divide and other areas.

The other warning is that if this is a group/cause/action that is important to you, then (you know what I'm going to say don't you?) when the relationship fails, how will you negotiate being in the group at the same time as your ex? Or will you both be miserable? Or will one of you leave and then "the movement" suffers? Okay, that was a bit of a joke. But then again, so is dating most of the time.

In summary, it's hell being single. There are always risks and always rewards. Being a lefty and finding someone for a short or long term connection, or anything in-between or around, makes it even more challenging. Good luck!

Ms. Communicate's column appears on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. Please send in any topics that you would like her to cover, as well as any letters seeking advice, which she'd love to answer. Her email is mscommunicate(at)rabble.ca.

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