Dating Great! with advice by

Surviving as a Single By Lena Katz (Lavalife columnist)

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It's the nightmare scenario that Bridget Jones' Diary was built on: A dozen happy couples and one solitary singleton.

Luckily, though, you're not Bridget Jones -- and you can deal with this scene, no problem.

That said, it's not easy to be the only solo flier in a situation where everyone else is paired off. So we've collected tips to help you relax, glory in your singleness and maximize any of these so-called "awkward" travel situations for your own benefit.

Single in a Couples' Paradise

Even if you're marooned on an entire island full of honeymooners (a situation I found myself in recently), you can still have a romantic, quality time. With yourself. After all, as they say in the self-help handbooks, loving yourself is the most important thing.

Capitalize on off-peak times. Unless you have a heart of stone, it's slightly depressing to be surrounded by loving couples watching the sunset together. So... skip the sunset. Or go early enough so you can score a prime table, just for yourself. Get up early and watch the sunrise. Go to the gym while everyone else is still snoozing.

Make friends with the bartenders and the concierge . Not only are they fixtures at the hotel, they also are looped in on all local events. Also, other resort guests are dropping in and out of the bars, so maybe you'll find a couple of kindred spirits. Or get the bartender to tell you what the locals are up to that night. There's always something.

"At some of these Caribbean islands, a certain place can be quiet all week and then one night, turn into a total party," says Nina Zapala, PR Travel Consultant at Fareed & Zapala Marketing. She mentions Friday nights at True Blue Bay in Grenada. Normally this area is posh, discreet and residential. But once a week on Fridays, it turns into a local block party.

Get happy. Unlike metropolitan bars, where Happy Hour crowds tend to be mostly local business people converging for a few after-work drinks, resort Happy Hours tend to draw an across-the-board assortment of guests who share one common goal: getting tipsy on the cheap before heading out for a night of indulgence.

"Anyone who shows up is usually in the mood to mingle and meet other people -- and the vibe is almost always casual," says Zapala.

Maximize your singleness. Once you put self-consciousness and self-pity aside, you'll realize that romantic resorts offer endless opportunity for self-indulgence. You can do whatever the heck you want and no one's going to whine at you. Turn your iPod up to top volume, buy all the magazines you never get a chance to read at home... go snorkeling or kayaking or just take a long nap. Drink wine in the bathtub. Order room service. Be completely self-centered.

Family Events

The reunion. The holiday dinner. The anniversary party. Nothing puts the pressure on a single more than family get-togethers. A few rules to get you through the second-cousin juggernaut.

Don't Feel Guilty. There's something about the well-meaning but relentless interrogation methods of older relatives that can make even a seasoned single feel like an errant child. But remember: It is not the 16th century. You are in no way obligated to Aunt Rose, Uncle Pete or dear old granddad to shack up and produce a few more heirs for the sake of the family. Live your life the way you want, and make no excuses.

Smile for the Camera. If you just split up with someone last week or had your newly minted girlfriend bail on you at the last second, there's no reason for the whole world to see your pain --or record it for posterity in a family portrait. And you certainly don't want them questioning you about it during the next get-together. So put your troubles aside, slap on an ear-to-ear grin, and pretend you're having the time of your life. It may manifest in reality -- and if not, the cameras will never record the difference.

Less Is More. Under the constant beady-eyed scrutiny of relatives, you might feel the urge to dish inconsequential, premature or private details about your personal life: the fledgling romance you just began last week, the rocky on-and-off relationship that's driving you to drink, your temporary desire to enter the priesthood and swear off lunatic women altogether.

You know what? Keep it to yourself. Your relatives won't appreciate the finer points of your situation. They're going to hear SCANDAL -- and they're going to quiz you on it six months from now, which you will hate. So when the questions start, just smile noncommittally, say "I've been really busy with other stuff right now," and let the focus switch to something less personal.

Single At the Wedding

We originally thought this was the most potentially painful situation, but former femme fatale and unlikely wedding-mag writer Charyn Pfeuffer showed us a whole new perspective.

Single + Wedding = No-Strings-Attached Fun. "It's very easy to get caught up in the throes of l-o-v-e, celebration and togetherness when you're at a wedding," says Pfeuffer. Plus, she adds, "Everyone is there to have fun, and if your idea of fun involves a little below-the-belt action, it's the perfect place to indulge... as long as you're behind hotel room doors." She recommends scouting your potential playmate at the rehearsal dinner, laying the foundation early on, and "going in for the kill" at the reception.

Doll It Up. Ladies! Just because you're dateless doesn't mean you're consigned to wallflower status. Far from it. Pfeuffer calls weddings "an all-you-can-eat buffet of eye candy," and recommends, "throw on a killer party dress, sexy stiletto heels...and "whammo, you've got the makings for some action." However, in deference to the bride, she advises, "Remember to wear underwear."

The Thing Is, You Never Know. OK. So we say we're looking for no-strings nookie. But if it turned into something more... well, wouldn't that be a nice surprise? Says Pfeuffer, "Weddings are just another social situation, and if you put yourself out there, you never know who you may meet... and isn't dating a numbers game, anyway?"

Single in the Great Outdoors

From the camping trips of youth to the chalet getaways of adulthood, soft adventure travel seems at first glance to be something you should do with a partner. But that's far from the case. In fact, singles' adventure tours are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the travel industry.

Look at small group travel as an alternative to solo travel. "You get a lot of pampering," says Dave Wiggins of Austin-Lehman Adventures, who are adding more singles programs to their calendar to accommodate increasing demand. "If you haven't done biking, horseback, etc. you'll have a lot of people to help you."

Broaden your horizons. "Generally if you go with groups of friends, you do the same things over and over again," says Wiggins. (Too true -- hence the whole "Guys Weekend in Vegas" thing.) "Going somewhere alone, with people you don't know, you're more apt to try something new." If everyone is in this adventurous mindset, it creates a very supportive, encouraging environment for singles. "Fellow travelers and guides will coax you up that last mile, to climb that last peak, to see the 360-degree view from the summit."

Don't look to hook up. If it happens, it happens. But most singles' tours are not an excuse to meet potential mates. "People tend to be there because they like an active lifestyle. They're looking for new experiences, to learn a bit about a destination, to really come away enriched in a lot of different ways," says Wiggins.

And if you meet the love of your life along the way... well, that's just a bonus.

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7 Scorching Winter Dates
Spring Clean Your Life
A Guy's Guide to Dating Guys (For Girls)



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