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And if romance does bloom, it may be hard to do your jobs when you're preoccupied with arranging "alone time." But relationships can take root and thrive in this fertile meeting ground.My copywriter friend, Suzanne, started dating a fellow team member, Joe, at her advertising agency.Reading to a very young child in a hospital room may be satisfying, for example, but it's also an activity that tends to isolate the volunteer.By contrast, preparing food in a community kitchen or playing piano at a senior center — both of which I've done with friends — opens broad opportunities to meet other volunteers.At conferences and work parties when I was single, I approached men who appeared to be alone. While planning her daughter's wedding, my divorced friend, Jane, developed a crush on the florist. From the time he walked in, he waxed poetic about his deceased wife. I couldn't be sure, but it was clear he was neither available nor ready. The subject matter should excite you — don't sign up for a bridge class if you hate playing cards — but the type of class has to be right, as well.I went out with an instructor I talked to over the crabmeat canapés at a faculty event. Afterward, eager to keep the connection alive, she went to his shop and thanked him in person. Years earlier, newly divorced and pushing my daughter on a playground swing, I spotted a cool-looking man with his daughters. At a Web-design course, for example, my divorced neighbor, Larry, faced a computer and a blank wall — no interaction with fellow students, no chance to mingle.
It's easy — or at least logical — to strike up a conversation with a seatmate; if nothing else, you've got your destination in common.
As a writing instructor, I had an ironclad rule (unarticulated, of course! An editor taking the course wrote some poignant essays about his son's wedding, becoming a grandfather and learning to live alone. Think about splitting the rental of a group ski lodge or beach house.
I waited until after the last session, then made my move: "If you sell any of those pieces," I told him, "I hope you'll let me know. you can get in touch even if you don't sell them." He called the next week, and we went out until I discovered he wasn't exactly living alone. It's a great way to meet like-minded people — provided, of course, you like skiing or the beach!
Next they discovered they were both avid readers and baby boomers who love '60s music.
Talking with her was so natural that Bob felt like his ship had come in.