Don’t Overlook the Importance of a Good Landscaper (Date 6 of 35)

16 Sep

I was in a room surrounded by approximately 20 business professionals, all in their late 30s/early 40s. All wearing their best suits. Loafers. Ties. Heels. Pearls. Everyone was shaking hands, exchanging business cards and “making things happen.” I did my part to work the room and was relieved at the thought of it being over, when I saw him standing to the side of the group. He wore jeans, a polo shirt and a cap. He was young. Really young. I looked around. No one else was paying him any mind, at all. None. “Who is that guy?” I asked one of my peers. “Oh, Kevin? He’s just a landscaper, no one important” she responded, waiving her hand and going to take her seat.

I watched Kevin as he went to take his seat at one end of the table, sitting between a high-powered media relations director and a highly respected attorney. No one so much as turned their head to even glance at him. The first person at the table, a wealthy financial planner, stood up and proceeded to give us his 30 second elevator speech. At the end, he said that he was looking to be
connected to some high-powered CEO of some company. He sat and the next person stood. And the next. And the next. They all had different professions and a different speech, but it always ended the same. They all asked to be connected to some high-powered CEO of some company. Then it was Kevin’s turn. He stood up and I noticed that people at the table were already talking to each other! Paying Kevin NO mind. So, being me, I loudly asked “So Kevin, who are you looking to be connected with?” He said “No one right now, really. Business is really good.” People’s eyes started catching each other’s, giving those knowing glances that seemed to say “Seeeee, I told you this 18-year-old isn’t good for anything.” Kevin went to sit but suddenly pushed himself back up and cleared his throat. Everyone looked at him. Then he said “I am not looking for any business right now but, I do know “insert high-powered CEO” and “insert high-powered CEO” and “insert high-powered CEO” and a few more. He pointed at each person who had asked for those specific connections as he stated the CEO’s name. Everyone stared at him in disbelief. Then he shrugged and said “I mow their lawns.”

After Aces and I made the split official, I felt lost at how I was going to meet someone new. Yes, I know that I run Singles in the Suburbs but, for various reasons, I find it difficult at this point in time for ME to meet someone through SITS (although many others do, daily). I hate online dating too. But that’s a story for another day. Jess McCann, dating and relationship coach, asked me a very “spot on” question during our meeting on Wednesday. “If you can’t meet guys through SITS and you don’t online date, where on earth are you going to meet them?” I just looked at her, silently. I had no clue where I’d meet men. I just shrugged.

On Wednesday night, I met “Date #6”, Steve, at Woody’s Golf in Herndon to play some miniature golf at Perils of the Lost Jungle. Steve was tall, talkative and funny! The couple behind us seriously wanted to kick us off of the course because we’d get to the next hole, only to stand there and talk forever until we realized that they had come up behind us and then we’d haphazardly play and move on to the next hole, where it would happen all over again. We were disappointed when we got to the last hole so quickly and decided to go grab a drink at Carpool in Herndon to keep the conversation going.


During our conversation, I learned that Steve does improv. Specifically, that he does improv with the troupe at The Comedy Spot in Arlington. So I asked him if he knew a very good friend of mine, who also does improv with the troupe at The Comedy Spot – and he does. Pretty well actually! It was a totally random, Six Degrees of Separation, type of occurrence. Our common friend had not referred Steve for the 35/35 project.

You may think that you don’t know anyone who could help you with your “search for love” but you know more people than you think and there is a good chance that these people know someone who can give you helpful advice, useful information, another connection or, may themselves, be the one. You won’t know – and they won’t know to offer it up – unless you ask!

Think about it. For a job search, we utilize all of our connections. We put in 100+ hours a month, responding to every job posting that interests us. We e-mail our resume and specifics on our search out to all of our friends and ask them to forward it to their friends to forward it to their friends. Yet, when it comes to finding our “life partner”, we usually don’t come close to that level of investment. We just assume that we know our “personal network” and, therefore, we’d know if a friend had a potential “love referral” for us. But we don’t. (Much like everyone in the networking group overlooked Kevin’s connections.) And our friends won’t know to help us look (or how to help us look), unless we ask. (Much like Kevin wouldn’t have thought of offering up that he knew all of those people, had the group not asked.) Had I simply asked my improv friend at any point if he had any single friends that may be looking for a fun night out, I might have met Steve before this 35/35 project.

Our network is larger than we know. Ask your friends/family/co-workers for help. Yes, even in your “search for love”. Don’t assume that certain people won’t be able to help you. You’ll be surprised by who they know!


21 Responses to “Don’t Overlook the Importance of a Good Landscaper (Date 6 of 35)”

  1. Marlene September 16, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    Not sure I agree completely with asking to be set up. I think a lot of people don’t feel comfortable. It is still good to ask though. I think the key is try different things where you will meet different people. If you know your friend does improv then go to his show!

    • Rita September 16, 2011 at 7:55 am #

      I agree that not everyone feels comfortable setting people up, and it shouldn’t be an expectation that if you ask someone – they will. I have definitely gotten used to being asked to set people up because of SITS. But if you don’t ask, or ask with specificity, they definitely won’t. People like helping people, when they can. I know that I really enjoy when I’m able to bring two people together. Others may not feel comfortable and that’s ok, that is something to respected. But it can’t hurt to let your friends, people you should feel comfortable with to ask such a thing, know. It’s just another tool in the arsenal that you should pair with everything else. It should NOT be your only tool. In that tool box should also be: Going out, online dating, Meetup groups, etc.

      I’d love to hear others’ thoughts and what Jess and Dave have to say.

  2. Christine September 16, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    I don’t agree with asking to be set up, either. Your circle of friends is sacred. I think people are hesitant to set up friends for the same reason that a lot of people are afraid to recommend someone for a job. You just never know what will happen, and it can have a direct impact on your own relationship with both friends. I agree with what Marlene alluded to – it’s better to cultivate interests, find events within those interests and go out to meet people who share them with you.

    Treating the search to find a mate like a job search makes it seem like all you have to do is cast a huge net to catch the right fish, but that’s not true. If you were fishing for tuna, you wouldn’t head to a freshwater lake. You have to fish in the right waters before you can hope to catch what (who) you want. That leads back to cultivating those interests…

    • Rita September 16, 2011 at 9:31 am #

      But Christine, what if you have a friend like me? I run a singles group with 2,000 members. Chances are, if a friend tells me who they are looking for I would know someone that might be a good networking connection, friend or romantic partner for them. However, there is a high probability that they would never meet but for my introduction.

      • Christine September 16, 2011 at 9:47 am #

        I’m only speaking to finding the right mate; not friends or professional networking connections. I think you’re the exception here because not everyone is involved in or even has access to a group of that size. I’m happily shacked up with the man I am going to spend the rest of my life with, but I am trying to imagine if I were single still and on the search here. The town I live in barely has 2000 people in it total. But along the lines of your singles group, what does everyone in that group have in common? They are single. Just because two people are single doesn’t mean they are compatible. Is it feasible that you could know someone within the group who is perfect for one of your other friends outside the group, or within the group for that matter? Absolutely. But instead of saying “Hey, I want to set you up on a pressure filled date with this stranger whom you’ve never met…” wouldn’t it be better to invite both to an event they would both enjoy so the potential relationship could develop on its own?

  3. Carla @ I Run, You Run September 16, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    When I organized the girls group, we hosted a VERY successful “dating party” — maybe it’s time SITS did that too (I think we had 60 people show up?)

    What’s a dating party? Well, if you’re a single girl, bring one single guy who you think it’s a catch, but you’re not personally interested on. If you’re a single guy, bring a single girl that fits the same criteria. What if you’re attached? Well, the couple can also come, but they must bring another single girl and guy who fits that description as well. (And it’s perfect, because the male/female ratio is always 50/50, and we all have that one great friend, that for some reason we’re just not attracted to, even though we think he’d be a great catch for a lucky guy!)

    Though there was only one love connection from that party (from a volleyball guy friend who I brought over with another friend of mine — they dated a few years, and though it didn’t work out they remain friends), everyone had a blast, and even those that went back home single, still made new friends — which goes back to having more chances at that love connection, no?

  4. Kirsten G September 16, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    I actually think it’s a GREAT Idea to ask your network if they know anyone that might be a good match for you! My Sister did this about a year ago, and while she did not (YET) meet the man of her dreams….she put it ‘out in the universe’, and I’m hopeful for her. I haven not yet had the balls to do this myself. Much like job searching…..some people will be more willing than others to help. I think that the argument that your friends don’t want to set you up b/c things may not go well is BS….b/c we’re all grown ups at this point, and we should realize that our friends are a) not responsible for other peoples behavior and b) the reason they are your friend is they have qualities you are attracted to in one way or another and they are likely friends with other similar people….erego, your friends will hopefully not be friends with complete psychos! *unless of course, that’s what you’re attracted to! 😉
    Thanks for this suggestion Rita….I think I’m going to help you publicize your blog and use it as a way to ask MY network for help!!! (since I too hate online dating and have no idea where to meet any decent men!)…..OH…..and if anyone reading this blog knows of anyone….feel free to put them in contact with me! 🙂

    • Christine September 16, 2011 at 10:22 am #

      Knowing someone as a friend and knowing someone as a mate are completely different. Someone doesn’t have to be psycho in order for things to go badly. Then again, there’s that example “Hall’s Post” gave down below – I bet that person had no idea the female friend in that situation would even sleep with someone on the first date, let alone later go psycho over it.

    • Rita September 16, 2011 at 10:34 am #

      I’ll keep you in mind definitely Kirsten! Thanks for following along!

  5. Rita September 16, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Christine – I absolutely agree. Pressure filled set-ups are horrible! That was not where I was going with this thought process although, hearing everyone’s opinions I can see how that could have been interpreted. It’s more like, if you were single and you were talking to me one night and said “I really am looking for a guy and I’d like him to be…X”, then I would know. I wouldn’t rush out and contact all of my single friends and say “ok, who will go on a date with Christine” or try to set you up on blind dates. But rather, as I come in to contact with people – through SITS or through work or through friends of friends or whatever…if I meet someone that makes me go “wow, I think this sounds like the type of person Christine told me she was looking for”, I could make an introduction, let’s say via e-mail. “Christine and X, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce you both. Christine loves photography, X and…Christine, X is engaged in this really fabulous photography project. I thought you two could be a good networking connection.”

    Then, it’s really up to you and X to figure out the extent of that connection. Only photography? Friendship? More? The thing is, had you not told me you were looking for X, then when I was meeting X I may not have had it in my mind that you and he share anything in common that may be of interest. Also, while yes, you could come out to SITS events with me, the chances of that one person being in that one place at that one time are slim. So if I happen to meet someone along the way, why not make the introduction?

    That’s how I view these 35 dates. Simply introductions to 35 people. I was telling Date #4, I believe that everyone crosses paths for a reason. Sometimes we take time to find out why and sometimes we never talk to the person, but everyone crosses our path for some purpose. I’m casting my net a bit wider in hopes of finding that match for me. And you are right, casting a bigger net doesn’t mean I’ll find “the one”. For instance, out of the 35 dates, maybe I won’t have a 2nd date with any of them, who knows? But, maybe one day, Date #4 meets someone else and he’s talking and he thinks “wow, Rita was mentioning something about that, I should introduce those two”. It’s just, we network for jobs, we network for doctors, we network for who cuts our hair, we network for who delivers our babies, we network for where we’ll eat, and what agent we will use to sell our house. We shouldn’t close our mind to “networking” for a potential match. It’s not about forcing your friends to set you up, or your friends even setting you up. It’s more just letting your friends know where you are, what you want, what you are looking for. Then, maybe, someday, they are somewhere and meet someone that they send your way…and you just never know.

    I guess that was really all I was saying. Don’t assume that your friends are limited to their circle of friends that you know they know…or that they wouldn’t want to help you…or have you in your mind. It’s just a statement, just something that your friend has buried away with a million other facts in their mind…but if on one day, they encounter someone who could be a good person for you to meet…you’ll be glad they had that fact in their mind. That’s all.

    • Christine September 16, 2011 at 10:25 am #

      The scenario here is exactly what I meant – you know so-and-so and I share a common interest in photography, so you suggest the connection. There is absolutely no harm in that whatsoever, and, in fact, that’s a great thing. I guess I misunderstood your first post about asking friends to set you up.

      • Rita September 16, 2011 at 10:33 am #

        No, you didn’t misunderstand – it was that I don’t think I made it clear. But, because I didn’t make it clear, it led to some good discussion. 🙂

    • Maria September 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

      Everything is fair game! Networking, set ups, what do you decide about sex, etc! And the only accountable person is yourself… We are talking about grown ups here… I can’t believe someone would blame a friend for a set up that didn’t work… Pleeease… Give me a break… It is so difficult to meet people as it is and if you can’t ask your friends, who know you and love you, I don’t know who can you ask…
      Rita, now that I read that you are in a writing group, I am feeling a little self-conscious about posting… hehehe

  6. Hall's Post September 16, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    I think it’s perfectly fine to ask to be set up and tell people you are looking.. just find it usually a hard thing to make happen as a lot of people don’t feel comfortable or don’t want to be blamed if it doesn’t work out. I have no problem helping, but I’ve ended up with my egg on my face several times trying to do set up people. One time the couple slept together on the first date and the girl went psycho about it.. that was great.

    • Rita September 16, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      Ha! And sex finally enters the blog. It’s official! 🙂

      • Kirsten G September 16, 2011 at 10:34 am #

        I knew what you meant the first time! 🙂
        Halls Post….sorry you ended up with Egg on your face, but hopefully the guy friend in your case didn’t hold you accountable!
        Christine….what Rita said 😉

        To me, I think the most crucial part of it all is just remaining open to whatever the universe has in store for you….and being open to meeting new people whenever and however that may happen!

  7. Catherine Hedden September 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Rita and Christine,

    I think asking friends to “introduce you to single, available guys” is a great idea. Asking to be “set-up” is asking for a disaster. To me, the difference is in the expectations.

    When you asked to be introduced to single guys it leave space for a natural pace of acquaintance and friendship to evolve. It is ok to just be acquainted. It allows a friendship to develop. It creates relationships that will last beyond a first meeting. It is much more relaxed and comfortable. It feels better to everyone.

    There are several benefits to asking for this much more expansive request to “be introduced” rather than to be “set-up.”

    First, when you ask to be introduced to single, available guys, then there is no pressure on either side for something magical to happen. There is no “right” or “wrong” or “good” or “bad” judgement on anyone’s part. No, “OMG, how could she think I would like him?” No, “OMG they slept together?” and No, “OMG, did she really think I’d want a date with her?”

    Second, single people know lots of other single people. When the expectation is set at a baseline of acquaintance, both people feel comfortable introducing each other to their single friends. If I met a single guy, who wasn’t a match for me, but would be a great fit for my friend Sally, then, I could introduce them. A “set-up” just doesn’t allow for other introductions.

    Third, it is much more comfortable, because there is no point of possible rejection. There is no pressure of, “Will he ask me on a second date?” because the meeting isn’t a first date. It is two single people meeting and getting to know each other. Maybe they are a match or maybe there are connections that can be made for friends. Or, maybe, like Rita is discovering, a nice friendship will develop. Either way, asking for an introduction, rather than a set-up give everyone the space they need to allow the relationship to organically grow in a natural, comfortable way, to a place that works for everyone.

    Just my experience….


    Cousin Cathy

  8. Jane September 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Hi Rita! I am in your writers group and am so glad that you told us about this blog – I am loving it!

    Your honesty is so refreshing and your experiences are extremely interesting to read about. You have a very keen eye for details, which translates very well into your writing.

    As a fellow single woman in the DC area, I know how tough the dating scene can be. So, I am really enjoying being along for the vicarious ride.

    It sounds like you have already learned so much – and you have taught the rest of us a lot in the process. I am definitely going to take your advice and try to branch out with my networking skills – I am always open to suggestions… 🙂

    Thanks again! I can’t wait to read more!

    Peace always,

    • Rita September 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

      Hi Jane!

      Thank you so much for following along!! As a peer in the writing group – please also feel free to e-mail me offline about anything “technical” that catches your eye!! I hope to make it out to a writing event soon…probably after the 35/35!! 🙂

  9. Alexis Brandenburg Tuttle September 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Hi, Rita.

    I know Steve too. We worked in cubes next to each other for about a year. Great guy! Funny, you speak of 6 degrees of separation, but now you have 2 people you know in common.

    Fantastic project you are doing. It’s been fun reading about it.

    All the best,
    Ali Brandenburg

    • Rita September 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

      Hi Ali!!

      I hope you are doing well! Haha, that is funny. AND, it’s actually 3, because my friend Marlene is the one who referred him to the 35/35 project. So I had 3 different people out there who knew Steve. It is a small world when you think about it. I’m glad that you are enjoying reading about it. I’m enjoying learning. 🙂

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