Saturday, March 8, 2003

Letter of Comment
    — To Meet People, You Have to Meet People

Every now and then, I write letters of comment to various places.  (I used to have a long list of where I had written to and which had been published.  Gave that up long ago.)  This week, I managed to have two of them published:

Regarding this article in The Stranger about a school shooting several years ago, I wrote a letter which got printed, titled “Yanked by the Nose.”  (You’ll find it 2/3 of the way down this page.)

Regarding a letter in the “Dear Glenn” advice column in the Seattle Gay News, I sent in a letter about people joining organizations in order to meet people, which he printed.  The column doesn’t seem to be online regularly, so here’s what I wrote (it was slightly edited in the printed form):

Reading Ivan’s letter in the Feb 28 column, I was struck by something which might be worthy of repeating/running a column on/etc.

Ivan spoke of having joined several local groups in the past in search of relationships and/or friends.  We’re often told this by friends: “You need to go out and join a group to meet someone.”  There’s definite truth in that, but it often seems to get misinterpreted.

First, anyone who is joining a club or doing volunteering or things like that in order to find a boyfriend is bound to get disappointed.  With few exceptions, hooking people up in longterm monogamous relationships isn’t the mission of these groups.  They are usually social groups or fundraising groups; you might well expect to meet people (some of whom might have potential for dating), but being upset that you don’t end up in a relationship from the groups is problematic.

Second, these things take time.  I can’t speak for Ivan, of course, but I’ve seen people who join a group, come to a couple events, don’t get what their misset expectations wanted, and then drop out, all in a couple weeks.  Or I’ve seen people decide to take up sports activities: they take a couple short lessons, aren’t instantly experts, aren’t being continually asked to dance or winning races or whatever, and they stop coming, before they’ve really had a chance to meet people and grow into the new activity.  We’ve been led to demand immediate gratification, and to “change the channel” when we don’t get it.

Third, you get out of these groups what you put into them.  This is especially true with the social groups he mentioned (many of which in the gay community are aligned along sports or sexual fetish lines).  If you’re in a running club, you’ve got to go running to meet the people who run, to hang out with them, and to get to know them.  If you join a leather club, you’ve got to have an interest in leather and some of the associated sex activities, you have to go to their group functions, and you have to dive in there and meet people.  You don’t have to step up to a board position right off the bat, but you can bet there are tasks you could volunteer to help with.  If you aren’t being active in the group, the group won’t be active around you.

Thanks for doing your great columns, Glenn.
At least one person (Hi, Tom) knew that it was me who had written the letter, despite it only being signed in the paper with my first name.

Updated on March 12, 2003

Updated on September 7, 2010

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