Tammy Shaklee wants everyone to find their match in time for Valentine’s Day, but if that’s too fast, then she has some tips for connecting singles with someone with whom to share dating, romance and possibly a long-term relationship or marriage.

Shaklee is founder of H4M, a traditional matchmaking service for gay men. When her business grew, she began the same services for lesbians.

10 Tips on How to
Find Love in 2017 —
Take It Offline

1. Close the Laptop — Turn off the device and try things differently, or more traditionally.
2. Get Fresh — Get a cute outfit, makeover, teeth whitening, new trendy frames, contacts.
3. Meet Up — Check out the online social site MeetUp.com only long enough to find and schedule three events to attend.
4. Volunteer — Sign up to work events, staff a registration table for your passion, politics, or for pets.
5. Go Shopping — For two weeks or up to two months, try a new gym, new coffee shop or new place of worship.
6. Break Up — For two months, change up your routine, try out different grocery stores, dry cleaners, and car wash.
7. Call Your Crushes — You know who they are, so set a goal to invite three of them for a coffee or one drink.
8. Headshot — Update your online profile, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Facebook, with a new photo.
9. Plan a Holiday or Event Mixer — Buddy up with a friend or neighbor to have a social with strategy: every couple must bring a dateable single, for example.
10. Start 2017 Fresh! — If you do any or all of the above in 2017, you’re going to be a more refreshed and interesting single, with new topics, new places to talk about and a renewed you having met new places and people.

Dating in the LGBTQ world is different, but in “most basic human ways, very similar,” Shaklee told qnotes. Her business model is based on more traditional introductions, courting and dating for today’s LGBTQ singles.

“Generally speaking, gay men (of all ages) have not had much experience in actually dating in which sex is off the table, so they spend an initial visit (of no more than two drinks or two hours) getting to know a little about each other and what they enjoy outside of work, and finding things of interest, not necessarily in common or mirroring,” she said. “Meeting the same person twice is simply dating. Dating is simply a couple of ‘hanging out’ or ‘getting to know you’ sessions, not an audition for marriage, and can still lead to great sex with someone you’ve taken the time to learn a bit about,” she added.

However, there are challenges that have to be addressed. Getting some counseling from someone who is in the relationship business or in traditional counseling or therapy can be helpful, especially for those who are seeking something more than a hookup or a short-term fling.

“Often times, unless we introduce both singles who are in the same place of healthy self-love, acceptance and contentment, the chance for a lasting relationship may not be as likely. Another issue is that of an inordinate amount of negative head talk, as it’s called. Two bachelors may meet, have a great date, call in with their feedback the next day that is extremely positive and reflective of a great match, but then say, ‘I don’t think I want a second date.’ When asked why, the answers often have to do with preventing rejection, when all along the other bachelor is looking forward to seeing him again. So, we provide unlimited dating coaching for all of the singles we match. Our process of providing facts, over fear, sometimes saves the start of what can be a great relationship. We coach that two dates can start to determine if this is the one you want to be with, while so many singles dismiss someone after only one initial coffee or drink,” Shaklee said.

Using online services takes a little bit of savvy and also some time investment in order to get satisfactory results.

Shaklee shared, “In addition to physical attraction, I encourage gay singles to seek like-minded individuals. As matchmakers, we focus ultimately on key qualities and values in a person, that makes them compatible for a long time.” She added, “For example, the classic New Yorker does not always last with the Midwestern farm-raised single. The most common requests I hear from singles is someone who is also driven, financially responsible, kind, genuine, simply a good person who takes good care of themselves. For online daters, that means getting to know the person beyond their (often dated) photo. It takes meeting them offline to see if they prove to hold the core values you are seeking.”

Online dating services or other dating resources present challenges to those who use them. Some are better than others and some are more successful in facilitating a good relationship. Shaklee said that she has vetted online dating sites and apps. She found that OkCupid was the leading site, with Match.com falling in last.

“Singles report the most complaints about the apps, whose users are only seeking sex. And, increasingly, the social site of MeetUp is the one growing in popularity to meet like-minded singles. I coach not to use MeetUp for trolling, but to select three LGBT-related events to visit once, with the goal to meet the singles attending who may not have even RSVP’d. If pets, politics or your passions (like hiking, or gaming, or live music) are important in your future relationship, search those types of MeetUps, and you’re guaranteed to meet someone who meets that criteria, which is a great place to start,” she concluded.

For more information, visit h4m.com.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' former associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director.